Gaeltacht colours regain minor football title
Gaeltacht . . . 1-7; St. Mary’s . . . 0-7
An Gaeltacht drawn from Rinn ogCuanach and An Sheana Pobal, collected their fourth County Minor Football (B) title in thrilling fashion at Fraher Field Dungarvan on Saturday afternoon last, when they finally managed to get the better of a fancied St. Mary’s combination in a rip roaring decider on score line of 1-7 to 0-7. Last winners in 2003 when completing back to back title wins, Gaeltacht showed tremendous tenacity and no mean football ability in coming out in top amid a welter of intense excitement and under the most atrocious weather conditions imaginable. Still to their ever lasting credit, the vanquished drawn from Kill, Newtown, Bonmahon and Ballyduff, mounted a terrific challenge, certainly never gave up hope until the last blast of the whistle, and greatly contributed along with the victors to one of the best deciders seen at this level for a mighty along time.
St. Mary’s aspirations of completing a notable under eighteen double – they meet Cois Bhride in the corresponding minor hurling final replay at Walsh Park this Saturday, came unstuck at Fraher Field in this instance, and it was certainly was not for lack of effort, but on the day had to concede that the big ball honours rest firmly and squarely where they belong . The quality of the football on offer emphatically belied the grading system, as surely both teams would surely have done justice to the ‘A’ grade, and perhaps ended up in the ultimate shake up into the bargain.
This game bristled with lots of good football from the very beginning, and even when the weather really turned out to be a spoil sport, both teams continued to rise to the occasion, and in the heel of the hunt it was a pity one of them had to go away empty handed. But the dictates of sport lay down that there must be a winners, and on this occasion, the boys from the Gaeltacht area to be very pleased to get it right in the end. They certainly had nothing soft from their Eastern opponents, and perhaps laid the foundations for success with a crucial early goal, and then a half time lead of 1-5 to 0-5. The winners had the assistance of an exceptionally strong first half breeze, and as the initial period progressed made good use it, despite the fact that it was the losers who scored first, and their solid defence kept the winners lead down to manageable proportions going into recess. Indeed the talking point during the break, primarily focused on the question ,whether or not the Gaeltacht five points advantage would be sufficient enough to see them through in the second half.
Despite their best efforts St. Mary’s stayed in step on the resumption, but by the end of the third quarter still found themselves four points adrift, and while two subsequent pointed frees brought the deficit down to two, it was not enough to see the Eastern colours triumph at this level for the first time since 1999, and fittingly and no doubt it was appropriately that the winners outstanding team captain had the distinction of securing a fabulous additional point in the dying seconds to put the seal on what proved to be a most worthy victory.
The scoring trend
The Eastern champions led only once in this match and this was in the 7th minute, when despite playing into the wind, they succeeded in opening the scoring with an excellent point from Conor Hennessy. Inevitably with the elements in their favour, the Gaeltacht side reversed the situation, and it took a peach of a goal from Breandan O hOgain in the 11th minute to open their account and secure a lead never subsequently surrendered. Building on their new found advantage, the winners went four points clear before the end of the first quarter, thanks to a brace of points from placed balls by their ever industrious full forward Pol O Cuirrin.
It took probably the score of the game from Paudie Raher to bring St. Mary’s back into the reckoning after nineteen minutes and when Ben Gallagher added another from a free just over sixty seconds later, onlookers certainly knew they had a mighty game on their hands. Still due to their territorial possession, the Western side consolidated their position before the break – a searching run from half back Cionnaith O Murchu, put a goal between the sides in the 24th minute, and during the three minutes leading up to the break, Pol O Cuirrin raised a further two white flags from frees, to give the Gaeltacht outfit the cushion of a 1-5 to 0-3 interval lead.
Rousing second half
Given the strength of the breeze now accompanied by driving rain, and a little piece of thunder and lightning thrown into the mix, a five points half time deficit didn’t look unassailable for the Eastern combination, yet it was certainly made a little more difficult when Gaeltacht restarted where they had left off with a another pointed free from Pol O Cuirrin in the 34th minute. Still it view of the amount of pressure now applied, St. Mary’s should have been faring better. They had their first score of the second half in the 40th minute, when Mairtin de Paor pointed from a free, and four minutes later, the Ballyduff lad saw his pile driver of a shot come back into the play off the upright. Undaunted the second half introduction of Niall Clifford paid off when he narrowed the gap to four point on the three quarter hour with a fine point, certainly posing the question why he hadn’t been in the team from the start.
For all that, the simply majestic defending of the Gaeltacht boys continued to determine how this match was most likely to end. Time and time again promising ‘Mary’s attacks were interrupted and short passing movements invariably brought the ball away from the danger area. Eventually two well-taken Conor Hennessy points from frees in the 56th and 58th minutes, heralded a grandstand finish, leaving just two between the teams, but this was the closest the Eastern visitors came to taking home the spoils. The chances to at least get a second bite on the cherry did present itself- again the winners rearguard held firm, and then in the dying seconds, Gaeltacht’s inspirational team captain, fittingly and very appropriately came surging forward for a fabulous and ultimate insurance point, leaving the Western champions winners in the end to the tune of 1-7 to 0-7.
In a well drilled Gaeltacht side none played better than team captain Cormac O Innseaduin, Deaghlan O hArtaigh, Breandan O hOgain, Pol O Cuirrin, Daithi O Briain, Cionnaith O Murchu agus Seamus Breathnach, while for St. Mary’s such as Ciaran Buckley, Thomas Dunphy, Paul Cummins, Conor Hennessy, Tommy Raher and Mairtin de Paor impressed most.
An Gaeltacht: Pol O Cuirrin 0-5, Breandan O hOgain 1-0, Cormac O Innseadun agus Cionnaith O Murchu 0-1 each.
St. Mary’s: Conor Hennessy 0-3, Paudie Raher, Mairtin de Paor, Ben Gallagher and Niall Clifford 0-1 each,
An Gaeltacht: Seamus Breathnach, Corey de Roiste, Daithi O Briain, Cathal O Curraoin, Cionnaith O Murchu, Deaghlan O hArtaigh, Seaghan O Curraoin, Tadgh O hUallachain, Cormac O Innseaduin, Seaghan O Liathan, Ferdia O hAodha, Breandan O hOgain, Domhnall de Carltun, Pol O Cuirrin, Niall O Muirthe, Fear Ionad- Padraig O Liathain for D.de Carltun.
St. Mary’s: Luke Scurry,Michael Kirwan, Tommy Raher, Eoin Fitzgerald, Martin Scurry, Ciaran Buckley, Thomas Dunphy, Gary Shannon, Paul Cummins, Conor Hennessy, Paudie Raher, Mairtin de Paor, Ben Gallagher, Brian Flynn, Jamie Burns. Subs – Niall Clifford for J. Burns, Joe Roche for P. Raher, D. Murphy for M. Kirwan
Referee: John Power (Dunhill).