Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pat O'Brien Cup Semi-Final: Connemara Gaels v Donegal

Connemara Gaels 1-10 Donegal 1-14

The Gaels and Donegal played an entertaining 60 minutes of football on a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon.  The Gaels had the initiative for the first 30 minutes, but ran out of juice for the second as Donegal gradually chipped away at the lead, and by the time all was said and done, had plenty to spare.  Donegal will now meet the high flying Wolfe Tones in the final of the competition.

Brian White and Graham Delaney are two of the
players leaping for this ball.
The Gaels got off to a great start as the underdog.   By the time the first 30 minutes were played the Gaels found themselves in a seven point lead.  Playing it tight in defence, and with some well taken points from David McDonagh, Coleman Mulkerrins, Noel Graham, and a great effort from Coleman Conroy from wing back, an unlikely result looked on the cards.  The Gaels carried the game to Donegal who may have been a little complacent coming into the challenge.  The possibility of an upset became even more apparent when AJ Magee finished a move with a goal, the running being done by center forward Graham to set up his wing man.  At the break it was 1-7 to 0-3 for the Gaels.

Donegal's Rocky Ivers looks for support as Brian Joyce
moves in to challenge.
The second half began with four unanswered points from Donegal who must have realized that they were in a game when they found themselves looking up a fairly steep hill.  Michael McGinty came in at corner forward for the northerners and Donegals attack took on a whole new set of teeth.  Combines with the leadership of Brian White in midfield, Donegal launched a comeback.  Thomas Donaghue put the first point over the bar, and was followed by White, Garbhan Friel, and White again.  In the meantime, Donegal lost the services of Eddie Kelly to a leg injury, but it did not make a difference to their ascendancy.  The Gaels dug deep to get themselves back into the game and started running out of defence in an effort to turn things around.  A David  McDonagh pointed free resulted, but McGinty answered as the Gaels looked like they had tired and running on close to empty.  The late first half goal was keeping the Gaels on top, but Donegal eventually got on level terms with a goal from Rocky Ivers.  McGinty did the hard work and put the ball across to the unmarked Ivers who sidefooted into the net.  The writing was on the wall for the Gaels now.  Noel Graham conjured up a point from a well taken’50,but Donegal answered with four on the trot from Kevin Curran (2), Mulhern, and a fine score from White.  White was all over the field at this stage, cutting out the danger in defence and helping out the forward line.  The Gaels had a last gasp chance at getting a result.  The westerners launched a late foray and Brian Joyce was tripped by Donegal keeper, Peter Boyle.  Boyle was equal to the kick, however, and got down well to save David McDonagh’s kick.  Donegal advance to the final, though they got a tougher game than possibly expected.

Gaels:  J. O’Donnell, D. Doolan, M. Coyne, C. Conroy, B. Joyce, K. Owens, G. Delaney, T. Griffin, AJ Magee, N. Graham, C. Mulkerrins, D. McDonagh, S. Conneeley.  Donegal:  P. Boyle, M. Canney, K. McColgan, K. Mulhern, C. Bell, D. Rooney, E. Kelly, B. White, T. Donoghue, R. Ivers, K. Curran, G. Friel, J. Byrne.

By Rory O'Donnell

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