Sunday, September 6, 2009

NACB Senior Football Final: Christopher's v Parnells (Chi)

Christopher’s 4-15 Parnells (Chi) 0-7

Christopher’s followed their first Boston Senior Championship last week with a North American title. It was a significant moment, Christopher’s fielded a team with 5 American Born starters and ended the game with 7. In fairness the manner in which the home team ran away with the game allowed for giving everybody a run. Right from the get go it was clear that Christopher’s were the superior side by a long shot. After the first 30 minutes Christopher’s led by 9 points and it just became more one-sided in the second half.

North American Senior Football Championship winners: Dan Cabral, Dan Kenneally, Ryan Graber, Brendan Kelly, Paudie Kenneally, Jerry Kenneally, and Paul Bannon (All American Born) - along with Donie Kenneally.

Christopher’s had to literally change their shirts inside out since there was a clash of colours and the home team are the ones to oblige. Having turned their shirts inside out, Christopher’s proceeded to turn Parnell’s inside out with some dominant performances in all over the field. Dan Kenneally impressed in midfield and Parnells had no answer for the eldest of the three Kenneally brothers on the field. Sean Kelly was on form at center forward and in the corner Finbarr (Barry) O’Driscoll put in an effortless performance. Christopher’s had seven points on the board before Parnells opened their account with a point from center forward Martin Rafter. Parnells forays into opposition territory were few and far between. Martin Hogan, Brian Lonergan, and Brendan Kelly proved a tough barrier to get around for the visitors. With Christopher’s ahead by a score of nine points to two, Barry O’Driscoll netted a fine goal. Sean Kelly worked hard to win the ball back and found O’Driscoll who planted his low shot into the bottom corner. As half time approached there was a scare as Lonegan and Dan Kenneally had to leave the field for treatment due to a clash of heads.

Christopher's celebrate their first North American Senior Football Championship.

The injured players reentered the fray to begin the second half. Parnells accounted for the first point after the restart through Brendan Doherty and for the first 15 minutes matched Christopher’s. Doherty and Rafter put a couple of points together, but this may have something to do with Dan Kenneally having to receive some additional treatment to his head injury. Scuffles began to break out and after swift warnings from the referee matters settled down again. The game was over for sure 18 minutes into the second half. Jerry Kenneally goaled from close range in the 17th minute, and O’Driscoll followed with another one minute later. Paudie Kenneally found the net with Christopher’s fourth goal two minutes later, and with the final scores of the game, Rowland and Paul Bannon put the finishing touches on an amazing season for Christopher’s.

Christopher’s: R. Graber, E. Cotter, N. Ryan, B. Lonergan, R. Hogan, B. Kelly, M. O’Meara, D. Kenneally, I. Rowland, S. Kelly, J. Kenneally, F. O’Driscoll, P. Kenneally. Parnells: J. Hanratty, P. MacFionnachada, S. Boyle, J. Rafter, B. Lynch, C. Munn, D. O’Dowd, W. Sherlock, B. Doherty, M. Rafter, C. Griffin, J. Cunningham, P. Clark.

By Rory O'Donnell

NACB Senior Hurling Final: Wexford v Tipperary

Wexford 3-15 Tipperary 2-8

It was Wexford versus Tipp Mark II for the North American Senior Hurling Final, albeit with a slightly different complexion as some of Tipp’s key players had returned to Ireland during the week. Wexford gained a measure of revenge for last weeks defeat with a handsome win. The Game was neck and neck until mid-way through the second half when Wexford raised the intensity a notch or two and pulled away with some fine scores.

The sides traded points to get things underway, and with the sides tied at three points a piece Ryan O’Dwyer goaled from close range. O’Dwyer looked more comfortable on his injured knee than a week ago, and was back to his up tempo running style. After Stephen White put Wexford four points to the good with a point Tipp came back at their opponents. Daithi O’Mahoney put two frees over the bar and then Tipp won a penalty. Pat Howard made no mistake with the shot. Paul McGrath pointed before half time to put Tipp one to the good at the break, 1-6 to 1-5.

The first fifteen minutes of the half saw the sides unable to separate from each other. Mike Heffernan and McGrath points were matched by Paddy Breen and Tony Murphy for Wexford. Wexford then raised the tempo a little and the challenges began to adopt a little bit a heavier air about them. Wexford started to work the ball well into the forward line, and captain Dominic Magill started to get control of the half back line. Jim Howard was called on to make a great save in the Tipp goal, but Wexford started to pick off several unanswered points. Jamie Kehoe and John Walsh put three over the bar between them before O’Dwyer goaled for the second time. With Tipp looking like they were fading the outcome began to appear inevitable. Murphy, O’Dwyer, and Walsh pointed to put Wexford eight points ahead and White then delivered the coup de gras with a superbly taken goal. White went on a solo run and cleverly tipped the ball over the defender before whipping home a shot that Howard had no chance of stopping.

With the clock ticking down, Paul McGrath’s frustration got the better of him as he saw red for an incident while play was stopped, and a consolation goal came from Daithi O’Mahoney. A reversal in outcomes from last week, but a split of the trophies seemed an appropriate end to the year since there was very little between the sides all season.

Wexford Captain Dominic Magill accepts the North American Trophy from former GAA President, Joe McDonagh, a great advocate for the GAA abroad. The first few lines of Dominic's speech is included.

Wexford: G. Griffey, P. Nolan, E. O’Shea, B. Dalton, D. Magill, J. Walsh, S. White, D. Redmond, P. Breen, K. O’Rourke, R. O’Dwyer, P. Ryan, T. Murphy. Tipp: J. Howard, M. Heffernan, J. McGrath, N. O’Grady, D. O’Mahoney, C. Power, C. Dempsey, B. Howley, P. Howard, C. Kavanagh, D. Kealey, P. McGrath.

By Rory O'Donnell

NACB Ladies Senior Football Final: Tir na nOg v Fog City Harps (SF)

Tir na nOg 0-7 Fog City Harps (SF) 2-14

The Fog City Harps turned it on in the second half to claim the ladies senior North American Football championship. There was a point between the sides at the end of the first half, but a goal from the throw-in at the restart followed by a flurry of points put the west coast ladies in control, with the local side playing catch-up for most of the second half.

Tir na nOg's Niamh Daly tried to put the shackles on Gemma O'Sullivan.
Sinead Bunyan opened the scoring for the San Francisco side with a well taken point. Tir na nOg answered with back to back scores from Laura Breathnach and Emma Conlan. Harps answered in kind. It was to and fro as each side put together some good passing moves. Claire Hehir pointed in fine fashion for Tir na nOg and was followed by Sheila Moran as the scoring was spread out between the home forwards. Fog City were a match however, and Sinead Bunyan at full forward was proving to be particularly effective, pointing twice more before half time. After an evenly contested half, Harps led by a point.

The second half was a different story. Jillian Joyce was introduced and the Galway county footballer proved effective in spite of being somewhat hobbled by a knee injury. The west coast side netted right from the restart through Siobhan Dolan and followed with some quick fire points as Tir na nOg were caught off guard. The visitors kept the squeeze on and did not let their opponents free from the chokehold that they held on the game. Joyce, Dolan, and Gemma O’ Sullivan added points as the game got away from the home team. Tir na nOg eventually found their feet, but by the time they managed to put some scores over the bar it was too late. Emma Conlan, Claire Hehir, and Catriona Traynor pointed, but another goal came for Harps from the boot of Joyce. Disappointment for Tir na nOg, and a well deserved victory for a good San Francisco side.

Fog City: C. Fay, J. Lynch, C. Prendergast, K. Janiak, E. Griffen, T. Lynch, R. Fox, K. Gordon, C. Burke, G. O’Sullivan, S. Edgecomb, E. Cornelan, S. Dolan, S. Bunyan, U. Creegan. Tir na nOg: F. Gohery, A. Snee, M. Moloney, C. Kelly, N. O’Neill, N. Daly, L. Brick, E. Conlon, S. Moran, L. Breathnach, C. Hehir, M. Keane, C. Treanor, S. Bannon, A. Maguire.

By Rory O'Donnell

NACB Junior Hurling Final: Fr. Tom Burke's v Naomh Padraig (SF)

Fr. Tom Burke’s 0-11 Naomh Padraig (SF) 1-5

Fr. Tom’s juniors faced a tough Naomh Padraig from San Francisco in Sunday’s final. The game was always on the line as apart from the first 10 minutes, there was never much more than a score between the teams. Na Fianna trailed by four points at the break, but made a comeback in the second half and came within a point. Tom’s survived a few scares late in the game and had David Hession to thank for some solid goalkeeping in a tremendously exciting finish.

Fr. Tom's James Brett and Stephen Noonan of Naomh Padraig contest a high ball.
Chris Cullinane pointed for Tom’s to open the scoring. Naomh Padraig hit two early wides before Kevin Mooney put Tom’s two to the good. Tom’s added a third point before Naomh Padraig got on the board through Stephen Noonan. Noonan and Timmy Buckley worked very hard in the forward line for the west coast side, Noonan pointed a second and Buckley a third before half time. Tom’s kept ahead through the free-taking of Cullinane as the balance of play broke even. At the half Tom’s led by four points.

Naomh Padraig pushed Tom’s all the way in the second half. A goal after 10 minutes brought them right back into the game and Noonan followed with a point. Tom’s had to fight hard to keep themselves in front. Aidan Staunton worked hard in the half back line, and on a number of occasions David Hession made some great stops as Na Fianna threatened to add another goal to their first. Robbie Croft put Tom’s two points to the good with an unusual point that came off the top of his helmet, and Keenan put a score between the teams with another. Tom’s had to resort to some desperate defending in the final minutes and managed to hold on to win their first junior championship since 2003.

Aidan Staunton was awarded the MVP for the game, and throughout the season Mike Moore, Larry Giunan and Sean O’Brien made significant contributions.

Toms: D. Hession, M. Moore, L. Guinan, A. Staunton, S. O’Brien, J. Brett, J. Moore, S. Scullane, C. Cullinane, N. Lawrence, R. Croft, K. Mooney, D. Fox. Naomh Padraig: L. Headd, C. Collins, P. Hogan, F. Burke, S. Corban, D. Long, P. Mahon, E. O’Brien, S. Noonan, V. Flaherty, T. Buckley, B. O’Brien, D. Walsh.

By Rory O'Donnell

NACB Junior Football Final: Aiden McAnespies v Wolfe Tones (Chi)

Aiden McAnespies 4-16 Wolfe Tones (Chicago) 0-8

The junior A football championship came to Boston for the first time in eight years, Cork were the last Boston junior team to bring the trophy to Beantown in 2001. The game was close for the first 20 minutes, and once Rory Maguire goaled late in the first half, McAnespies began to pull away. McAnespies ran out easy winners as the second half was not much of a contest.

Stephen McGettigan and Jamie Kelly put McAnespies into a two point lead, which the Tones soon cancelled out as the Chicago side kept pace in the early going. Rory Mone and Anthony Corcoran pointed for the Tones. Jamie Kelly and Mone then exchanged scores, and it was tit for tat. Things got a little testy early on with a few off the ball episodes, and the referee felt the need to issue warnings to players on each side. After Peadar Nugent put a lovely point over the bar, McAnespies began to pull away. McGettigan and Kelly pointed, and Maguire netted to put the home team in command. Colm Donnelly pointed before the half time whistle to put McAnespies ahead by 1-7 to 0-4 at the break.

From a Wolfe Tones viewpoint things degenerated in the second half. McAnespies dominated the game and kept the Tones scoreless until the final five minutes. All the while the home sided piled up the scores. The Tones were unable to keep up in the middle of the field as McAnespies strolled through the Tones defence. Kelly, Nugent and Mike Allen pointed, and Donnelly goaled to put the game beyond the visiting side. The Tones put some respectability on the scoreboard with a flurry of late points, but it was all too easy for McAnespies in the end. Corkman Mike Allen collected the MVP (Man of the Match for the folks at home) as Eugene McKenna lived up to his promise made in the Sly Fox pub 5 short months ago.

Macs: N. Duffy, N. Clancy, S. Magill, G. Hennessey, K. Hudson, P. McCusker, C. Donnelly, S. Lynn, M. Allen, R. Maguire, S. McGettigan, J. Kelly, P. Nugent. Tones: M. Campbell, M. Gallagher, D. Mone, C. Delargy, S. Folan, L. Elliott, M. O’Brien, J. Kerley, R. Mone, S. Meehan, S. Keenan, A. Corcoran, P. O’Brien.
By Rory O'Donnell

NACB Senior Camogie Final: Eire Og v Shamrocks

Eire Og 4-7 Shamrocks (SF) 4-2

Eire Og regained their place as kingpins of North American Camogie with a well deserved victory over Shamrocks of San Francisco in the Final. The early morning conditions were blustery and not the most ideal, but both teams coped well with the conditions. The game was keenly contested, and after a close first half, Eire Og displayed some fine shooting and pulled away in the final 15 minutes.

DUCK! Referee and Shamrocks alike had to duck as Fiona Gohery plays the ball.
Eire Og got off to a fine start to the game. The locals established an early goal and 2 points lead before the Shamrocks opened their account through the stick of Ciara Moran. Eire Og struck right back with a goal and two points and led by 2-3 to 0-1 with 10 minutes to go in the half. Fiona Gohery converted a penalty after Riona Daly was brought down, and shortly afterwards Gohery pointed from a 65. The Shamrocks were hardly out of it however, and Sharon O’Brien was forced into making a great save. The San Francisco side kept pushing and had a goal disallowed for an infraction in the square. Eventually the visiting side were rewarded with a goal from Suzette Bradley and soon afterwards another three pointer from Moran. At the half Eire Og held a slender 2 point lead.

Shamrocks continued to fight and made the Eire Og defence work hard.
Shamrocks leveled matters two minutes into the second half. After Gohery had put Eire Og three points ahead, Rebecca Bienat netted for Shamrocks. Eire Og took advantage of the slight breeze and proceeded to put some lovely scores over the bar. Gohery pointed twice and Sarah Kelly pulled a score back for the visitors. The intensity rose as the game entered its final quarter. Every ball was eagerly contested. However after Gohery put a fantastic point over the bar from her weak side, Eire Og began to pull away. Maureen Meehan followed with a goal and holding a five point lead, Eire Og found themselves having to put some work in on the defensive end. Ann Greally moved into the back line and worked hard, as did Aodeen Snee and Sharon O’Brien was called upon to pull off some saves. When Caroline Hanley, and Riona Daly each pointed from distance and Caroline Hanley scored a late goal, it was all over. A fine overall display from the home team as the trophy remains in Boston.

Eire Og: S. O’Brien, A. Snee, N. O’Neill, C. Hanniffey, E. Dolan, M. Keane, N. Daly, M. McElroy, C. Hanley, F. Gohery, R. Daly, A. Greally, M. Meehan. Shamrocks: G. O’Sullivan, S. Bradley, D. Ryan, S. Kelly, K. Burke, C. Moran, S. Boyle, M. Keogh, R. Biernat, D. Cunningham, S. Lynch, A. Bryant, A. Morrissey.
By Rory O'Donnell

Saturday, September 5, 2009

NACB Finals - Saturday

Christopher's made the senior football final by beating Kevin Barry's of Philadelphia in the semi final. After a tight first half at the end of which Christopher's led by a score of 1-8 to 1-6, the local side pulled away in the last 15 minutes of the game with some fine fielding from Dan Kenneally and scores from Ian Rowland. Christopher's will meet Parnells from Chicago in the final.

Both Wexford and Tipp made it to Sunday's senior hurling final. Wexford had a rather easier time of it against Harry Boland's from Chicago, while Tipp edged out San Francisco's Na Fianna with a pointed free,which proved to be the last puck of the game (see report).

Aiden McAnespies juniors made it to the final, beating Charlotte James Connolly's in the semi-final. After a close first half, the local side pulled away in the second. McAnespies will have to beat a very strong looking Chicago Wolfe Tones to capture the junior football championship.

There would be no local participation in the Intermediate Football Final as the Connemara Gaels went down to a heavy defeat at the hands of Young Ireland's from Philadelphia. The Gaels fielded a severely depleted side that featured a half dozen juniors, and ended up on the wrong end of a 2-12 to 1-6 scoreline.

Armagh-Notre Dame were pipped by a very good Sons of Boru team from San Francisco by a score of 3-7 to 3-8. The San Francisco side looked like they were cruising, with less than 10 minutes to go led by eight points. Darren Gilsenan and Domininc Magill pointed for the local side, while Darren Maguire popped up to score a goal. There was now three points in it and the Brighton lads were pushing hard for the equlaizing score. The westerners then scored what proved to be the winning point as Armagh-Notre Dame netted on the final whistle.

Michael Devanney contests a high ball for the Gaels.

Brian Boylan and Armagh-Notre Dame just missed on a place in the Intermediate football final by the narrowest of margins.

Senior Hurling Semi-Final: Tipperary (Boston) v Na Fianna (San Fran)

Tipperary 1-16 Na Fianna (San Fran) 3-9

Tipperary and Na Fianna played a tremendously exciting semi-final, and Tipp gained revenge for last year when they fell at the semi-final stage to the San Franciscoans. The last puck of the game from corner back, Daithi O’Mahoney decided it. Tipp won a free on their own 65 and the Islegate clubman put it over to put Tipp into an all Boston final against Wexford.

Na Fianna's John Fox runs at the Tipp defence.
Na Fianna got off to a flying start with two early goals. Eamonn Brennan put both away as the corner forward waltzed through the Tipp defence to finish from close range. Pat Howard and Paul McGrath had each pointed for Tipp between the goals, but Na Fianna looked the stronger side the early going. Wallace, John Fox, and Aidan O’Sullivan each pointed and Na Fianna led seven points. Tipp worked their way back into the game. Cronan Dempsey and Noel O’Grady lifted things around the middle, and the free taking of Pat Howard and O’Mahoney made the west coasters pay for defensive indiscipline. O’Grady and John McGrath scored a couple of nice points from play, and with Tipp trailing by three points, Tipp won a free about 30 yards from goal. Paul McGrath took a short one to O’Mahoney,and O’Mahoney’s shot found it’s way into the net to level the scores heading into half time.

Tipp's Paul McGrath rounds his marker to score a lovely second half point.
Tipp played some nice hurling in the opening stages of the half. Two Pat Howard frees put them in the lead for the first time in the game, but center back John Fox goaled for Na Fianna. Howard brought the sides level again with a free, and Na Fianna won a penalty which was blocked on the line. Mike Lawlor mopped up with a point and the westerners led again. Pat Howard and Conor Kavanagh brought Tipp back ahead with two points, and yet again the lead changed hands as Na Fianna pressed for the victory. Lawlor pointed twice as at times the Tipp defence was opened up, but Na Fianna failed to deliver the fatal blow. Jim Howard made showed a steady nerve on several occasions and Tipp somehow remained in contention heading into the last few minutes. Again it was fouls that proved to be the undoing of Na Fianna. Pat Howard drew Tipp level with a free and Tipp then spurned a few good chances to go ahead. Then came the deciding score from O’Mahoney and Tipp meet Wexford for the North American.

Tipp: J. Howard, M. Heffernan, D. O’Mahoney, C. Power, N. O’Grady, B. Howley, C. Dempsey, B. Lonergan, P. Howard, D. Kealy, C. Kavanagh, J. McGrath, P. McGrath. Na Fianna: M. Bargary, B. O’Hehir, M. Sheedy, G. Wheelock, J. Fox, T. Carroll, Wallace, D. Young, A. O’Sullivan, S. Byrne, M. Lawlor, B. Walsh, E. Brennan.

Boston runners up, Wexford, faced Harry Bolands of Chicago in the first semi-final and came out winners by a score of 5-10 to 1-10. The game was level early in the second half. Wexford led by three points at half time, and after Boland’s leveled the scores with a goal, Wexford pulled away. Kieran O’Rourke from the back line lifted Wexford’s performance with some forays into the Boland’s back line. After Tony Murphy put Wexford a point to the good the floodgates opened and Wexford netted three times and pointed once to run out comfortable winners in the end.

By Rory O'Donnell

Friday, September 4, 2009

Blues Junior B's out, Eire Og Advance to Camogie final

The news from Canton on the local front is that the Shannon Blues bowed out to Detroit in the junior B football by a score of 2-11 to 0-14. The Blues did not get off to the best start with only 10 players to start the game.

The Eire Og Camogie players got a well earned win over St. Mary's Chicago. The win puts Eire Og into the final, while St. Mary's have to play San Francisco on Saturday to see who will meet the local side for the championship on Sunday. St. Mary's were leading at half time by a score of 1-6 to 2-1, and were looking good heading into the break, but Eire Og battled hard in the second half to go ahead through a Maureen Meehan goal followed by a Caroline Hanley point. Riona Daly scored a second goal, and Eire Og added another point. From Sharon O'Brien in goal, who made several invaluable saves, through Fiona Gohery, to Meehan at full forward, the entire Eire Og team put in a great effort to hold St. Mary's scoreless in the second half and go on to win. The final score was 4-3 to 1-6.

I also managed to catch a glimpse of a Junior C hurling game on the main field between Michael Cusacks from Chicago and a team from San Francisco. I was a little surprised to be informed that all of the players were American. The standard was better than one would have expected at Junior C level, regardless of where the players were from and the game was keenly contested. Late in the game the referee even had to deal with a bit of a free for all, not to be condoned, but perhaps an indication that the Americans are not taking up the game for some kind of cultural experience, they want to actually beat each other. A look at the schedule for that competition is revealing in itself, teams are coming from outside the traditional Irish strongholds. Portland Maine, Akron Ohio, Allentown Pennsylvania, Concord New Hampshire, Milwaukee Wisconson, and Denver Colorado to mention some. It seems that contrary to popular opinion, it is hurling that grabs the attention with the Americans, not the football.

Now, some may feel that in order to hone your skills at the highest possible level, you have to be admitted to some kind of hurling version of Hogwarts that, it is said, is located in the bowls of Kilkenny Castle and only accessible though a secret passage revealed to a select few of the best young Kilkenny hurlers. Also, that in there, Brian Cody plays the role of head sorceror and teaches these young apprentices how to put as fine a point on their hurling skills that the Muggles who live outside Kilkenny can never aquire. From what I saw Friday evening, the skills can be learned by anybody - granted they need to start at a young enough age - but the coaching in hurling is going on with youngsters from North East to South West. Maybe Kilkenny would be a bit much to take on at this point, but who knows, in a few years...