Monday, May 23, 2011

May 22: Senior Football Championship - Connemara Gaels v Shannon Blues

Connemara Gaels 3-11 Shannon Blues 2-13

In a game that saw three red cards and five goals the Connemara Gaels came away with the points. There was tremendous excitement as the game ebbed and flowed. Twice the Gaels looked like pulling away but the Blues reined them back in and it all boiled down to the final kick of the game, a free that drifted just wide to the relief of the Gaels and disappointment of the Blues.

Barry Murphy carries the ball out of defence.
The Blues held the edge over the Gaels for most of the first half. Whether running the ball from midfield or making the long pass into the corner the Blues had the Gaels back line in a little bit of disarray. Kieran Hurley capitalized for the Blues with some accurate free-taking. With the teams level on two points each, the Blues established a three point lead. The Gaels seemed stuck in the blocks and were unable to get a foothold in the middle of the field. The Blues were first to the breaking ball and enjoyed the lions share of posession. The Gaels kept working to make something happen, and eventually got a reward for their efforts with a goal from Stephen Monaghan that leveled the scores. Brian O’Connor beat his man on the edge of the box and passed to the incoming Monaghan who side-footed home from close range. Following the goal the Blues lost Kevin O’Shea to a red card for striking an opponent in full view of the referee. Having drawn back to level terms, the Gaels now had the bit between the teeth. Further points came from Robbie Fox and O’Connor, and a second goal just before half time from O’Connor seemed to put the Gaels in the drivers seat, but not for long. The Gaels lost O’Connor shortly after the goal for a second yellow card, and now the sides were level in personnel. At the half, the Gaels led by four points, 2-4 to 0-6.

No holds barred when the Gaels and Blues met on Sunday.
The Blues stormed right back into the game after the restart and were on level terms within 2 minutes. Hurley, who was having a fantastic game in the corner, won the ball from behind his marker and after turning blasted home from close range. The corner forward followed with a fine point from a free and the sides were level. The Gaels introduced Tommy Walsh, and the former Galway minor made an immediate impact with a point to put the Gaels back in the lead. A goal came soon afterwards from Stephen Monaghan. A great ball from Walsh found the incoming Monaghan who chipped the keeper from an angle and the Gaels were back in front. Now it was the turn of the Blues to take over, and rattled off five points in a row. Shane Cahill seemed a magnet for the ball and the man from Mitchelstown won ball after ball for the Blues. Four Hurley points ensued, one was a real beaut under pressure on the sideline. Denis McElligott tallied the fifth and with the sides level and the game in the balance the Gaels looked like they would finish the stronger side. Barry Murphy dispossessed his marker as the Blues looked to launch another attack, and the Gaels swept down the field for substitute Niall Judge to handpass over the bar. Cathal O’Neill added another before another sending off, this time the Shannon Blues Sean Moriarty. Things seemed to be in hand for the Gaels, Tom McDonagh and Niall Judge extended the lead to five points. The Blues weren’t done however. Denis McElligott, who put in a tremendous 60 minutes for the Blues, poached a goal as the Gaels back line lost concentration, and Cathal O’Neill added a point. With just a point in it, the Blues had a chance to salvage a point from the game but Hurley’s free from 45 yards went just wide of the posts. A hard won two points from the Gaels, for the Blues a fine performance that just fell short. If this game is anything to go by, the outlook looks exciting for the rest of the season.

Gaels: B. Joyce, L. Wylie, W. Callaghan, B. Murphy, P. Hogan, S. Manley, B. O’Connor, T. McDonagh, R. Fox, C. O’Neill, B. Carroll, S. Connolly, S. Monaghan. Blues: G. Kissane, S. Sinnott, C. Mullen, D. McElligott, P. Magee, D. White, P. Murray, K. O’Shea, K. O’Sullivan, S. Cahill, M. Lyons, S. Moriarty, K. Murray.

By Rory O'Donnell

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