Connemara Gaels 1-9
Shannon Blues advance to the junior A1 semi-final next weekend after a nail biting finish to an excellent junior A2 final. It was touch and go all game, though at times the Gaels looked like they were struggling to keep pace with a fitter looking Blues team. Goalkeeper James O'Donnell kept the Gaels in it in the first half, but the Blues eventually wore down the Gaels and in a late-late finish Owen Walsh tallied the winning point, followed by a goal in injury time to deliver the trophy for the Blues.
|Shannon Blues Junior A2 Winners play Donegal in the Junior A1 semi-final next week.|
The first half ended with the Blues taking a one goal lead thanks to a Walsh strike just before the whistle. Conor Fitzgerald opened up the Gaels defence with a long run and offloaded to Walsh who hit the back of the net. James O'Donnell had been keeping his side in the game with some fine saves as the quick Blues attack tormented the Gaels defenders. Several wides also did not hurt the Gaels cause. The Blues had netted earlier through Walsh who skipped through the Gaels rearguard. The westerners played some good football in spurts times. Ciaran Lee netted mid way through the half from a nice pass by Tom McDonagh, and points from Lee, Kevin Owens, and McDonagh had the score at 2-3 to 1-3 for the Blues at the break.
|The Connemara Gaels fell just short in the final minutes of the Junior A2 Final.|
The Gaels showed their mettle and came storming back into the game in the second half. Ciaran Lee pointed four times in on the trot as the Gaels found a new burst of energy. Led by Pat McNicholas, the back line worked hard to close down the spaces that the Blues had found in the first half, and possession was converted into scores. After Walsh pointed from a free for the Blues, the Gaels pulled ahead with 5 unanswered points. Tom Sally McDonagh got the ball rolling with a pointed free and then the man from An Spideál got into a groove and pointed 4 in a row, the last coming off the left boot. With more than 10 minutes to go it was anyones game. Pat Murray leveled the game with a well taken point, but McDonagh pointed another free to put the Gaels one to the good once more. Down to the last 3 minutes and Gaels fans biting their nails as they saw their side hanging on. The Blues had missed a few chances down the stretch, but finally Conor Mullen leveled the scores, and then the ever dangerous Walsh put the Blues ahead in injury time. The
native then put the nail in the coffin with a left footed goal to win the title
for the Blues, who now advance to the Junior A1 semi final next weekend.
Gaels: J. O'Donnell, J. Purcell, C. Conroy, C. Lafferty, P. McNicholas, S. Murray, T. McDonagh (0-3), G. O'Malley, K. Lowe, C. Lee (1-5), K. Owens (0-1), J. Geoghegan, PJ Kelly. Subs: R. Burke, S. Mannion. Blues: G. Henry,
S. Kelly, D. O'Brien, B. Griffen, M. Keegan, C. Mullen (0-2), P. Murray (0-1),
C. Fitzgerald, J. Feeney, C. Sullivan, O. Walsh (3-4), T. Hernon.
By Rory O'Donnell