Monday, August 23, 2010

Sun August 22 - Senior Football Playoff: Christopher's v Donegal

Christopher’s 1-6 Donegal 0-14

Christopher’s hopes of repeating as senior football champions ended on a soggy Sunday evening in Canton. Without two of their key men, Sean O’Hare and Cathal McNally, Christopher’s made a gallant effort to turn Donegal, but scoring proved to be a big problem for the current champions. Donegal themselves were without Conor Rafferty who had injured himself in training, but were up to the task of getting through this tough and unexpected playoff round, and into the semi-final against the Wolfe Tones on Tuesday night.

Donegal's Paddy Kelly pursued by Chris Alyward.
The first half was tightly contested for the first 15 minutes. Christopher’s players seemed to adapt well to their new roles in a rearranged lineup. Alan Maloney and Eoin McCarthy found spaces in Donegal’s back line, and the Christopher’s defenders did well forcing Donegal to cough up the ball on several occasions. Christopher’s led by four points to two at one point. Maloney, McCarthy, and Eoghan Buckley pointed for Christopher’s in the opening quarter. Donegal took over in the big way for the remainder of the half. John O’Loughlin led the way. The Laoisman took over in the middle of the field and there seemed little that Christopher’s could do to stem the tide. O’Loughlin himself burst through the Christopher’s defence to point and reduce the deficit to a point, then points followed from Kieran Lillis, Brian Kelly, Michael McGinty, Collie Carr, Paddy Kelly, and Carr again. That makes six different Donegal scorers in a 10 minute spell that more or less put paid to Christopher’s chances. With O’Loughlin in charge in the middle, Donegal won the breaks and worked the ball well. Michael McGinty covered the back line well and Christopher’s were unable to breach a Donegal defence that had shut the gates. As if to underline his role in all this, O’Loughlin was last to score before the half time whistle and Donegal led 0-10 to 0-4.

Christopher’s made some changes to start the second half. On came Patrick Delaney and Mark O’Sullivan. Christopher’s did manage to slow down the Donegal attack as Barry McNally moved back to his familiar center back position, but the scoring problems persisted. A Sean Kelly goal provided brief hope for the champions. Christopher’s still trailed by four points, but with 18 minutes to go they had hope. But that door was well and truly shut. Donegal’s defence hassled and harried, and blocked well when Christopher’s forwards eventually found shooting space. Brian Kelly and Michael McGinty restored Donegal’s six point advantage and with 10 minutes to go the writing was on the wall. Eoghan Buckley scored a consolation point in injury time. Donegal will need to regroup quickly for their next assignment, while Christopher’s still have football to play themselves. They will face the Shannon Blues in an intermediate semi-final, also on Tuesday night.

Christopher’s: P. Kenneally, C. McDonald, C. Alyward, B. Kelly, C. Brosnan, R. Good, B. McNally, D. Kenneally, A. Maloney (0-2), S. Kelly (1-0), J. Moylan, E. Buckley (0-3), E. McCarthy (0-1). Donegal: M. Boyle, T. Maguire, N. Collins, D. Graham, G. Reddin, K. Lillis (0-1), M. McGinty (0-3), J. O’Loughlin (0-2), B. Lafferty (0-2), B. Kelly (0-2), C. Carr (0-2), S. Burke, P. Kelly (0-2).

By Rory O'Donnell

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