Wolfe Tones 2-12 Connemara Gaels 3-5
The last game of the day saw Wolfe Tones come out on top over a Connemara Gaels side that threatened to make a run on a few occasions, but could not sustain the momentum. In spite of scoring just three times in the first half, the Gaels actually led by a point after 20 minutes, but the Tones raised the tempo when required and made their annual case for championship contenders with a very good display in difficult conditions.
The Wolfe Tones had the upper hand for most of the first half. The only blemish on the first half performance was two conceded goals that will have the backroom staff emphasizing concentration in defence, since the apart from that, the Tones were solid at the back. The Tones put three points over the bar before the Gaels got themselves on the scoreboard. The Gaels struggled to maintain possession and moves out of defence constantly broke down. The poor conditions could be used as an excuse, except for the fact that the Tones did not seem to suffer the adverse effects to the same degree. The Tones, in marked contrast, played some good passing football. Sean McVeigh was an important factor in midfield for the Tones, and each time the Tones were in possession a score looked likely. Wing forward Gary Sayers opened the scoring for the Tones with a point, and almost had the ball in the back of the net shortly afterwards as he latched on to a poor pass out of defence. Chris Kerr made a great save to deflect the close range shot over the bar. After Marty Farrell put the Tones three points ahead, the Gaels drew on level terms. A low ball across the face of goal was tipped into the net by a diving Michael Magill, who capitalized on his first real chance.
Wolfe Tones' Derek Scullane tries to contain Michael Martin
The Tones continued to pick off the points however as Stephen Donaghy and Sayers restored the lead to two points. The Gaels struck again with a second goal. This time Aiden Flanagan finished a good move and buried the ball from close range. A performance lifting score for the Gaels? Quite the opposite as the Tones response was efficient and ruthless. The Tones tallied a Marty Farrell goal and three points in the final 10 minutes of the half put them firmly in control of proceedings. At the break it was the Tones ahead by five points, 1-9 to 2-1.
In the second half the Gaels looked to eat into the Tones lead, and in the early going that looked like a possibility. Three points came in the first 10 minutes, and while the Tones kept some distance with points from Brian Maguire and Donaghy, at least the Gaels were competing on level terms. Michael Magill, Thomas McDonagh and Michael Martin found the mark for the Gaels. With the Gaels pushing into Tones territory with more frequency than in the first half, the Tones struck a killer blow mid way through. Having won the ball on their own 14 yard line, the Gaels again gave away possession in a dangerous spot, and this time a goal did come. Dan McCabe made no error as he picked up the errant handpass and rounded the keeper and chipped into the empty net. From a Gaels viewpoint it was a case of a lot of hard work undone by one mistake.
With seven points now separating the teams the Gaels went looking for a goal. With less than 10 minutes to go a missed 21 yard free underlined the Gaels troubles. The Tones banged some bad wides, but holding the lead and time running out they were as good as scores. The Gaels gained some hope as Derek Scullane was sent off for a second bookable offence, and from the resulting free the Gaels scrambled the ball over the line to put four points in it with 5 minutes to go. Conor Magill made it a one score game as the Gaels looked for a last gasp chance to at least steal a point, but Donaghy made the game safe for the Tones with an injury time point. The Gaels will be disappointed since having lost to Donegal earlier in the year, this was another game where the westerners fell short against one of the big guns.
Tones: D. Lyons, E. McHugh, P. Warren, J. Farrell, D. Scullane, B. Maguire (0-1), C. Canning, S. McVeigh, G. Sayers (0-4), D. Walsh, S. Donaghy (0-5), D. McCabe (1-0), M. Farrell (1-2). Gaels: C. Kerr, F. Doyle, M. Kelly, C. Conroy, D. McClarnon, N. Taggert, A. Flanagan (2-0), M. Dougan, J. O’Brien, M. Martin (0-2), K. Cox, M. Magill (1-1), T. McDonagh (0-1). Sub: C. Magill (0-1).
By Rory O'Donnell