|The Connemara Gaels had a very important win over Christopher's on Sunday.|
It was a hard earned win for the Connemara Gaels at the expense of Christopher’s. The Gaels threatened to take over the game on a couple of occasions only to be reeled back in by a persistent Christopher’s side. It was an exciting, high scoring game with play flowing up and down the field. There was a controversial ending to add to the excitement. With the Gaels leading by three points in injury time, Christopher’s were denied an injury time goal for a square ball, though in fairness the whistle had blown before any contact was made with the ball as it dropped to the edge of the square. Pat McNicholas, Brian Connor, and Niall Judge did well for the Gaels, while Kevin O’Driscoll, Shane Beston and Aidan Walsh were best for Christopher’s.
Each side enjoyed dominant spells in an action packed first half. The Gaels started the stronger of the two sides, but lost two players early on to injury. Barry Murphy and Gordon Kelly had to leave the field of play in the first 15 minutes. After a strange start where Barry Murphy received a yellow card and the ensuing free was retaken to be put over the bar by Eric Hegarty at the second attempt, the Gaels went on a five points to one scoring spree. Pat McNicholas and Brian Connor featured prominently in the Gaels efforts. Connor, Steve Monaghan, Sean Conneeley, and Niall Judge all found the mark as the Gaels kept traffic going in the direction of the Christopher’s goal. The Gaels could have gone further ahead having won a penalty after Connor was brought to the ground. Paudie Kenneally was quick to save the initial kick from Connor, and Eoin O’Neill saved the second attempt from Judge. Christophers got back into the game and started to win some midfield ball. Some great interplay in the forward line led to scores from Shane Beston, Kevin O’Driscoll, and Hegarty. Again the Gaels put in a spurt. Points from Monaghan and Connor were followed by a fantastic goal. Cathal O’Neill played a ball over the top to Niall Judge who found the incoming Connor, and the big man from Offaly buried the shot. Christopher’s answered with two points, one each from Hegarty and Beston, as the game went to and fro. The half ended with points from Connor and Brian Toner for the Gaels and one from Kevin O’Driscoll for Christopher’s. The Gaels led by two at end of a high scoring and entertaining first half, 1-9 to 0-10.
The second half opened in spectacular fashion with a goal from each side before the half was 2 minutes old. Christopher’s first with a goal right from the throw-in. Aidan Walsh finished the move after Colm O’Driscoll found him coming in from wing forward. The Gaels answered within the minute. Again it was O’Neill finding Judge in the corner and Judge to Connor who planted the ball in the corner of the net. The Gaels followed with a string of points from Monaghan, Toner, Conneeley, O’Neill, and Connor to open up a 7 point lead with 15 minutes to go before Hegarty stemmed the bleeding with three pointed frees. The Gaels at the same time proceeded to kick 5 wides in a row as accuracy eluded the forwards. With the game down to the final 5 minutes the Gaels held a tenuous four point lead. Connor made it a five point gap with a free from close range. A tense finale was set up after Hegarty pointed twice to leave a goal in it with injury time to play. After Aidan Walsh dropped a high ball onto the edge of the square the whistle blew and a free was awarded for a square ball, a decision that was met with much protest from Christopher’s as the ball had ended up in the net. Two points for the Gaels who stay on track for the playoffs, while for Christopher’s a win is desperately needed to remain in the hunt.
Gaels: G. Joyce, L. Wylie, S. Manley, P. McNicholas, B. Murphy, B. Carroll, B. Connor (2-6), G. Kelly, S. Connelly (0-2), B. Toner (0-2), C. O’Neill (0-1), N. Judge (0-1), S. Monaghan (0-3). Christopher’s: P. Kenneally, N. Ryan, E. O’Neill, P. Manning, A. Greaney, S. McNally, D. Kenneally, P. Delaney, K. O’Driscoll (0-2), C. O’Driscoll (0-1), A. Walsh (1-2), S. Beston (0-2), E. Hegarty (0-9).
By Rory O'Donnell