Sunday, May 31, 2015

Senior Football Championship: Aidan McAnespies v Kerry

Kerry 4-10 Aidan McAnespies 3-15

Depending on your viewpoint, it was a comeback of epic proportions or a collapse of epic proportions, either way, it was epic.  Having held the advantage for three quarters of the game and leading by no less than nine points entering the final 15, Kerry found themselves on the losing end of a two point decision.  McAnespies scored 2-5 to nothing for Kerry to finish the game. 

It was championship stuff between Kerry and Aidan McAnespies
It was a lively opening half with each side getting off the mark with a goal.  McAnespies struck first when Jamie Cox netted following a run from wing back, John Carney.  Kerry hit back rapidly, however.  A good move where Robbie Croft, Phil O’Sullivan, and Darren Foley liked up ended with Andy Menton netting from a tight angle.  The sides exchanged points as play flowed up and down the field, though Kerry looked a little tighter in their own defensive area. 

Kerry then hit a goal and two points with no reply.  A short kickout ended up in the hands of Croft, and the Dubliner found John O’Keefe totally unmarked with the keeper to beat.  O’Keefe finished with a low drive and Kerry were in the driver’s seat.  McAnespies could have answered in kind through Cox who found himself with the keeper to beat, though in fairness to the corner forward, the angle was tight and the ball went over the bar from the edge of the small square.  The half ended with two points for each side, Cox and Diarmaid Spratt for McAnespies and Croft with both of Kerry’s to see the Kingdom into the break with a four point lead.

Jamie Cox is out to this ball first.
Kerry extended their lead shortly after the restart.  A John O’Keefe goal extended the lead to 6 points.  Paddy Coakley made a great initial save, however, the Rathmore man was on to the rebound to force the ball over the line.  Foley was in behind the defence shortly afterwards following a high ball into the box as Kerry found the holes in which to operate, however this time the deflection from Coakley’s superb save was cleared.  Kerry were up for it now and Ronan Driscoll’s anticipation led to a score from Croft.  Driscoll’s play in the half back line was a shining light for Kerry as the wing back covered a lot of ground. 

McAnespies pointed four times to Kerry’s three before Joe O’Shea delivered what would have appeared to be the final blow to the McAnespies challenge with a goal and the game entering the final quarter.  Kerry were now nine points to the good and surely on track for an early two points.  McAnespies were still kicking though.  A sweeping move upfield led to Driscoll bundling Collie Donnelly over in the box, and Jamie Cox made no mistake with the spot kick.  Calum Comiskey then pointed to reduce the gap to five.  Then, a short kick out went wrong and ended up in the hands of Collie Donnelly who found Sean McConville to net – and the nine point difference was reduced to two in the space of a few minutes.  

At this stage the teams were headed in different trajectories.  McAnespies had the bit between their teeth and the belief that they would win the game was palpable while Kerry’s body language seemed to indicate that the collapse was unavoidable.  Everything ball offer was won by a pair of McAnespies hands and play was all in one direction.  Donnelly and Brickland pointed to level the scores before Comiskey and McConville made sure of the win with a point apiece.  A fantastic way to start for McAnespies, quite the opposite for Kerry.

Kerry:  S. Enright, J. O’Keefe, J. Barry, J. O’Shea, L. Healy, R. Driscoll, D. Foley, P. O’Sullivan, J. O’Keefe, R. Croft, J. Long, A. Menton, C. Whelan.  Macs: P. Coakley, M. Bogue, M. Boyle, J. Carney, C. Comiskey, B. Shaughnessy, J. Brickland, G. O’Neill, R. Kennedy, C. Donnelly, D. Spratt, S. McConville, J. Cox.

By Rory O'Donnell

Senior Football: Christopher's v Galway

Galway 2-5 Christopher’s 1-14

Christopher’s held off a late Galway challenge in the pouring rain to secure an early two points.  Starting the game conditions were greasy, however the rain began to fall in heavy waves as time went on, making conditions very difficult for the players.  Christopher’s established a practically unassailable lead over the first 50 minutes, however, Galway battled to the bitter end and can take heart from that last 15 minutes where the tribesmen tallied 2-3.

Jamie Kehoe on the move for Galway.
Christopher’s took the break four points to the good in poor conditions as a heavy rain started to fall with about 10 minutes left in the half.  Tom Fahy got Christopher’s off the mark with a pointed free, and Christopher’s followed with an additional four unanswered points.  Eoghan Buckley (2), Mark Delaney, and Fahy hit the mark.  Galway keeper, James Kelly pulled off a fine save as Christopher’s were merrily moving the ball in the right direction while Galway struggled to gain any traction. 

The first shot at goal from the Brighton men came when the half was about 15 minutes old, and there were four wides before JJ Doyle finally broke the duck with a fine effort that went over the bar.  Galway added a second from Shane Regan as the westerners finally worked their way into the game, and at the break it was a 0-6 to 0-2 Christopher’s lead.

Christopher's Mark Delaney wins this ball.
The poor conditions made for sloppy football with both sides making errant passes and struggling to hold on to the ball.   Galway found themselves on the back foot, and did not help their cause by giving up possession when on the move.  Each promising move ended with the final pass falling short or into the hands of an opponent.  Christopher’s proceeded to pop the points over the bar as in the first half, each score putting the game further out of reach for their opponents.   David Cash, Delaney, and Eoghan Buckley pointed and the lead grew to 14 points. 

Galway plugged away and eventually good things started to happen for them.  Sean Marshall’s shot from distance sneaked into the back of the net, and shortly afterwards Kevin Cummins finished a great move to knock another three points off the Christopher’s lead.  Further points came from Cummins, Marshall and Jason Campion though time was not a friend of Galway’s at that stage.  Fahy finished the scoring for the day and Christopher’s will be happy with the win.

Christopher’s:  E. Keogh, K. Fuglianeti, L. Kitterick, P. Kenneally, E. O’Neill, J. Horgan, D. Kenneally, C. Murphy, M. Delaney, D. Cash, T. Fany, P. Manning, E. Buckley.  Galway:  J. Kelly, G. Lundy, P. Cummins, D. Lowrey, D. Egan, J. Kehoe, S. Marshall, J. Campion, D. Gallagher, D. Reddin, S. Regan, K. Cummins, JJ Doyle.

By Rory O'Donnell

Senior Football Championship: Shannon Blues V Connemara Gaels

Shannon Blues 3-6 Connemara Gaels 1-8

The Blues ground out a hard earned win over the Connemara Gaels in a game that began to resemble water polo the hour went on, such was the amount of rain.  The Gaels got a good early start with a Sean Conneely goal, but the Blues applied themselves in the poor conditions to gain a half time lead and hold on to it for the rest of the game.

Shannon Blues off the mark a win in the 2015 Championship.
Shane O’Connor got the scoring going with a well taken point for the Gaels, and as the Connemara men ran at the Blues in the early going Conneely finished a nice move that also involved Fintan Cooney and O’Connor to have the Gaels ahead by four.  Conditions did not make for a running game and once the Blues got into the swing of things the Gaels struggled somewhat.  

Barry Dwyer and Dara Roche each pointed from frees before the Blues earned a penalty that Trevor Wallace put away.  Another goal followed from Dwyer with Denis McElligott and Roche also involved.  With the Blues in the ascendancy McElligott added another point to open the gap to five, a large lead in the sloppy, sluggish conditions.  The Gaels did not have much going their way, however Martin Farrragher had the final say in the half with an exquisitely pointed free.

A Roche goal mid-way through the second half more or less put the game away.  Neither side could really gain total control as anything was possible with players were splashing in puddles, slipping and sliding as the rain came down almost horizontally at times.  

Late in the game the Gaels introduced Jack Kielt and the Derry native pointed four times after entering play.  A goal would be needed for the Gaels to pull off a comeback, and it did not look like materializing as the Blues closed off every Gaels attempt to find a path to goal.  Two points for the Blues and back to the drawing board for the Gaels.

Blues:  D. O’Brien, T. Wallace, S. Kelly, D. Clifford, L. O’Connell, C. Mullen, W. Guthrie, G. Horan, D. McElligott, P. Murray, D. Wallace, D. Roche, B. Dwyer.  Gaels:  E. Connolly, D. Leech, L. Purcell, D. Doollan, R. Caffrey, C. Mulkerrins, K. Rice, S. O’Connor, F. Cooney, N. Graham, M. Byrne, S. Conneely, M. Farragher.

By Rory O'Donnell

Sheehan Cup Semi-Final: Tipperary v Galway

Galway 0-5 Tipperary 2-14

Tipperary sent a message to the other hurling clubs on Sunday afternoon by advancing to the Sheehan Cup Final with a convincing win over Galway.  Tipp held the trump cards, and looked sharp and fit.  The forward line did not need any breaking in time and from the beginning the scores flew over the bar.  Galway made a better game of it in the second half, however, the outcome was never going to be in doubt.

Galway faced an excellent Tipperary side on Sunday.
Tipperary had the game in the bag by the time the half time whistle sounded.  Both wing forwards pointed early on, Colm Galvin and Rory Sludds got Tipp off the mark.  After Tipp went three points ahead, a goal came in unusual fashion.  Galway keeper Ray Grealish swung to take the puckout, however, unaware that the hurley was cracked underneath the tape grip, the end flew off and the ball fell to a grateful Oisin Hickey who put the ball away.  Tipp were in the ascendancy and continued to pick off the points from various angles and distance before Galvin netted a second from close range.  At the break Tipp were 2-11 with Galway yet to score.

Colm Galvin has a go for Tipp.
Galway opened the second half brightly with a couple of points from Darren Donoghue and Darragh Murray, although at this stage the horse had bolted the barn.  The objective at that stage was for a better showing in the second period while Tipp coasted, satisfied to maintain the distance between the sides.  Tipperary looking like they will take some beating even at this early stage in the season and will meet Fr. Tom Burke’s in next week’s final after Tom’s handily beat Wexford Friday night.

Galway:  R. Grealish, M. Lennon, J. Kinsella, W. Welch, P. Durcan, D. Swetland, D. Murray, C. Stack, C. Finn, L. Allen, D. Donoghue, M. Kelleher, E. Daniles.  Tipp:  S. Delaney, D. Moloney, S. McGarr, J. Healy, J. Rigney, Marty, P. Moriarty, C. Dempsey, C. Galvin, A. McRedmond, R. Sludds, K. Lee, O. Hickey.

By Rory O'Donnell

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Senior Football Championship Opens Sunday!

Sunday next sees all 8 of Boston’s senior football teams in action to open the 2015 championship.  With 4 games on the schedule there is plenty of action to look forward to.  An early win or two can make all the difference when the middle of August rolls around and playoff spots are on the line.  Clubs have been busy bolstering their home based panels and and getting into shape for the season.  Some clubs have already landed top tier names, and with the coming weeks seeing the addition of away players, the season promises to hold plenty of twists and turns as well as the best live gaelic football and hurling action in North America.

Shannon Blues started 2015 the way they ended 2014 - with a piece of silverware to celebrate.
First up are Aidan McAnespies and Kerry at 1:15 next Sunday.  Things have not gone well in the early season for Kerry.  Some key home based players have been lost to injuries in the cup and challenge matches.  An ankle injury means Ian Whelan’s participation is in doubt, while Mike Godley is likely out for the remainder of the season at least.  Kerry will still look to Robbie Croft and Ronan O’Driscoll to keep the ship pointed in the right direction.  McAnespies have brought in Offaly man Johnny Brickland in the middle of the field, as well as marksman Sean McConville, to bolster the home based panel and will fancy their chances in this game.  

Christopher's Tom Fahy in action.
Christopher’s and Galway meet in the second game.  Both teams missed out on the playoffs last season and will be eager to take this chance at a couple of points to get off the mark.  Christopher’s were disappointed with last year’s showing and will be hoping to get this year off to a winning start.  With Tipperary man, Tom Fahy, leading the way in the forward line they might just do that.  Galway have struggled the last couple of years having made the semis in 2012 where the tribesmen fell to Donegal.  Galway are now the lone club flying the football flag in Brighton and although the last two years have been barren, the team has always proved to be a tough nut to crack.  Eoghan Kavanagh’s injury will keep him out for the season, a huge loss for the Brighton men.  However, with Danny Reddin, Kevin Cummins, and Jamie Kehoe on the field Galway have a solid home base to build upon.  An early win will be important for them on Sunday.   

Connemara Gaels have it all to do to overturn a hot Shannon Blues team.  The reigning champions look well positioned to defend their title having captured the Pat O’Brien Cup in impressive fashion last Saturday.  The Blues have managed to acquire the services of Austin Stacks midfielders Wayne Guthrie and Greg Horan to anchor the side for the season, while the rest of the squad looks well focused on retaining the championship if last Saturday’s performance is anything to go by.  The Gaels have made some nice additions to the team in David Black, Jack Purcell, and Tommy Higgins however it will take a massive performance to come out with the win on Sunday.

Cormac Joyce-Power and Wolfe Tones will be looking for a good start Sunday.
Donegal and Wolfe Tones will provide the grand finale to Sunday’s action.  Donegal are looking to make 2015 a season to remember having taken a little bit of a back seat last year.  Already Leitrim’s Emlyn Mulligan is in the fold, while Gavin “fireman” Gallagher and Killybegs man, Matt Smyth, are back for another crack at a Boston senior championship.  Wolfe Tones have always been a leader in the early season and once again look to be serious about capturing that elusive first Boston senior football championship.  The home based stalwarts Gary Brilly, Cormac Joyce-Power, Mike O’Brien and Marty Farrell will need some help to carry the team over the finish line in first place this year.  Maybe 2015 will be Blue and Navy – the story starts Sunday!

In addition, Friday night sees Tom’s and Wexford meet in the first Sheehan Cup semi-final, while at noon on Sunday, a hotly fancied Tipperary team, featuring Clare prodigy Colm Galvin meet Galway in the second semi-final.  Tipp recently traveled to New York and captured the 7-a-side trophy and will be looking to take a step towards a second piece of silverware this year.  

The Ladies footballers got creative and will be playing a blitz on Sunday to determine which two teams will make the Orla Benson Cup final for the following week.

So, things really starting in earnest for the Boston GAA.  If past seasons are anything to go by there will be plenty of twists and turns, controversy and conversation pieces, and of course, top class GAA action over the next 3 months.

By Rory O’Donnell

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sheehan Cup Q'/F: Fr. Tom Burke's v Worcester

Worcester 1-6 Fr. Tom Burke’s 3-20

After a tight first half in which Worcester proved to be a good match for Tom’s, the game opened up in the second and Tom’s pulled away thanks in large part to an early flurry of scores from Laois marksman David O’Mahoney.  O’Mahoney put away a quick 2-2 to extend the Tom’s lead to 11, and the outcome was in little doubt from then on.

Terry Doran in action for Tom's.
The North American Junior C Champions got off to a flying start with an early goal from PJ Heffernan.  David O’Mahoney and Dan Swetland had traded scores to get things going.  Heffernan’s goal was followed by a Liam Kelly point as Worcester opened a 4 point lead.  Tom’s gradually worked their way into the game and were level by the time the half was 15 minutes old.  Jack Martin almost had a goal, however, Jared Gorry saved well and Martin satisfied himself with a point.  Points came from O’Mahoney, Chris Donoghue, and Terry Doran as Tom’s built patiently from the back.  Worcester worked hard throughout.  The O’Shaughnessy brothers gave little away in midfield, however, an ankle injury to talisman player, Dan Swetland near the end of the half did not help Worcester’s cause.  A free from Swetland just before the break closed the gap to three points at the break, 1-4 to 0-10 in Tom’s favour.

Worcester Hurling Team.
Tom’s made some positional changes to begin the second half, with O’Mahoney moving to the half forward line from midfield, and a goal was netted by the Laois native.  O’Mahoney followed with another two points and a second goal as the game slipped away from Worcester.  Aidan Davoran pointed, which along with Jack Martin, got two American born players on the scoreboard for Tom’s.  Matin netted a third goal for Tom’s after pouncing on a rebound off the keeper and from that point on the result was in little doubt. 

Worcester:  Jared Gorry, M. Dufrene, S. Mahoney, D. Smith, D. Swetland, T. Jackson, Seamus O’Shaughnessy, Sean O’Shaughnessy, M. O’Connor, L. Kelly, P. Mannion, M. Jones, PJ Heffernan.  Tom’s:  D. Fox, J. Dooley, J. Dowling, D. Burke, D. Costello, R. Driscoll, S. Higgins, D. O’Mahoney, A. Davoran, C. Donoghue, G. Kelly, J. Martin, T. Doran.  

By Rory O'Donnell

Shannon Blues O'Brien Cup Winners

Shannon Blues 1-13 Donegal 0-11

Shannon Blues Cup Champions!
Shannon Blues captured the 2015 Pat O’Brien Cup with a fine all round display on Saturday afternoon.  After the first 10 minutes the game took on a complexion that would not change as the Blues took an early lead and looked fairly comfortable holding Donegal at bay.  The fact that the Blues were up for it was evident in several performances.  Shane Kelly, David Clifford, Conor Mullen, and Pat Murray all put in focused, determined performances.  The play of newcomers Dara Roche and Barry Dwyer at corner forwards, Wayne Guthrie in the middle of the field, and Liam O’Connell at center back were also keys to capturing the first piece of silverware of the season.

The Blues held a slight edge at the end of the first half.  Dwyer and Roche looked dangerous with every ball played in, and the Blues controlled most of the play.  Defenders had the better of their men for the most part, while Greg Horan and Guthrie looked strong in the middle of the field.  The Blues built a solid lead with some well taken scores by Roche and Dwyer, while Pat Murray, Conor Mullen, and David Clifford also chipped in.  Donegal had Jonathan Byrne to thank for a fine save that kept his side in the game late in the half.  Donegal had to shift the chess pieces to try and get some change from the Blues back line.  Emlyn Mulligan was moved from corner forward to center forward to get more involved, and towards the end of the half Donegal narrowed the gap to two points with two Mulligan frees and a fine effort from Smyth.

Try as they might, Donegal could not turn the Blues.
The Blues added to their lead with an opportunist goal from the boot of Roche.  The corner forward appeared to have lost control of the ball and casually hit it with the outside of his left foot; the Donegal defenders and keeper froze as the ball nestled into the far side of the goal.  Donegal now had a sizeable gap to close and pushed hard to try and close it.  A Mulligan free and Ephraim McFadden point reduced the gap to a score, however, Roche and Dwyer restored the difference with points in quick succession. 

The Blues seemed content to maintain the status quo and held Donegal at bay.  Once inside the final third Donegal found it hard to make the opening to get a shot off as the Blues defenders were not giving away much in the final third, and options looked sparse for Donegal.  As the clock wound down Donegal accepted that it was not going to be their day, and for the Blues, a great beginning to the year and sets up next weekend’s championship opener nicely. 

Blues:  D. O’Brien, S. Kelly, T. Wallace, D. Clifford, L. O’Connell, C, Mullen, W. Guthrie, G. Horan, C. Fitzgerald, P. Murray, O. Dolan, D. Roche, B. Dwyer.  Donegal:  J. Byrne, D. McBride, M. Canny, S. Doherty, T. McCleneghan, D. Doherty, G. Gallagher, M. Smyth, C. McDevitt, E. McFadden, P. McLaughlin, E. Mulligan, C. Hughes.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Donegal and Shannon Blues into Pat O'Brien Cup Final

The finalists for the Pat O’Brien Cup were decided over the weekend.  Shannon Blues and Donegal enjoyed the spaces of the main field to record impressive victories over Christopher’s and Aidan McAnespies respectively. 

Friday night Christopher’s and Shannon Blues met in the first semi-final, the first game of 2015 on the main field, and the Blues secured a 10 point victory on a score of 2-13 to 1-6.
Saturday evening saw the second semi-final between Aidan McAnespies and Donegal.  Following a tight first half, 3 second half goals, one each from Christy Bell, Emlyn Mullingan, and Gavin Gallagher, saw Donegal through to the final next weekend.

In addition to the cup final, next weekend also sees the hurlers get into the swing of things at the ICC with first round games of the Sheehan Cup.  Barley House Wolves and Worcester will enter the competition and meet Galway and Fr. Tom Burke’s before the Pat O’Brien Cup Final at 5:30. 

Finally, congratulations to the Tipperary hurlers who, along with Fr. Tom’s, traveled to New York to play in the seven-a-side hurling.  The Premier men got their season off to a great start by winning the tournament and taking the cup back up I-95 to Boston.

Emlyn Mulligan was a key part of Donegal's forward line.
Donegal 3-9 Aidan McAnespies 1-6

Donegal made it to the final of the Pat O’Brien Cup thanks to a second half salvo of goals.  Looking very fit, the speedy Donegalmen created the openings for Christy Bell and Gavin Gallagher to score the majors and see their side past the challenge of Aidan McAnespies.
The first half was closely contested.  The sides took the break all square at five points each, which was a fair reflection of the balance of play.  

Nicky Kelly and Emlyn Mulligan got Donegal off the mark, while it was Sean McConville who got the ball rolling on the scoreboard for McAnespies.  Both sides moved the ball well and at speed to set up opportunities.  Collie Donnelly finished off a great move with some running off the ball to put his side a point to the good just before the break, and Mulligan, who was very much the central cog in the forward line, leveled matters just before the short whistle.

Johnny Brickland highest for this kickout.
The second half started with McAnespies looking like a very good bet to push on and claim victory.  A Donnelly point provided his side a slight advantage, and the balance of play seemed to be leaning in their favour in the period following the restart.  There was little to trouble the defending 5, while most possession seemed to be in the hands of Macs men. 

As quick as a flash, Donegal sprang to life and launched a surprise attack, catching the Macs rearguard napping.  Christy Bell finished a move that involved great running and speed from Ephraim McFadden and Gavin Gallagher.  Next was Mulligan with the finish and Gallagher again was key part of the build up.  McAnespies pulled one back, but hope of coming back was extinguished right away with Gallagher providing the final touch himself.  

Donegal went on to finish with four unanswered points to run out 9 point winners, and set up an exciting final with Shannon Blues next weekend.

Macs:  P. Coakley, M. Bogue, R. Kennedy, P.Daly, S. McConville, G. O’Neill, J. McGourty, J. Brickland, M. Boyle, C. Donnelly, D. Spratt, C. Comiskey, D. Kennedy.  Donegal:  J. Byrne, C. McCarron, S. Doherty, T. McCleneghan, D. Greene, M. Dunphy, M. Smyth, G. Gallagher, E. McFadden, E. Mulligan, C. Bell, N. Kelly, C. Hughes. 

By Rory O'Donnell 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Aidan McAnespies and Donegal Looking Strong as Tones and Gaels Fall.

A cool start to Saturday gave way to a hot late afternoon, and there were 2 hot looking teams in Aidan McAnespies and Donegal. 

Two first half goals saw McAnespies past Wolfe Tones and into next Saturday’s semi-final round.  Ruairi O’Domhnaill and Seanie McConville netted.  Wolfe Tones had plenty of chances to make up the gap with points, but some wasteful shooting saw the Tones constantly chasing the game.

Donegal looked particularly impressive in their victory over Connemara Gaels.  Strong throughout the field, even at this early stage of the season, saw Donegal build a sixteen point lead and bring on the subs.  The Gaels truck eight points in the form of three goals and two points in the latter stages of the game and put an air of respectability on the scoreline.

Next weekend sees the semi-final stage of the competition with Shannon Blues and Christopher’s at 4:30 followed by Aidan McAnespies and Donegal at 5:30.

Aidan McAnespies 2-5 Wolfe Tones 0-7

With many new faces on board, and sporting a new lime green trim to their uniform, Aidan McAnespies pulled through a dogged encounter with the Wolfe Tones.  Neither side looked particularly sharp in front of goal, however, two expertly finished strikes saw them through to next week’s semi-final.

Aidan McAnespies had the edge over the Tones on Saturday.

In the early going the Tones scored three times to McAnespies one.  Gavin Walsh, Dan McCabe, and Cormac Joyce-Power split the posts.  However, Ruaidhri O’Domhnaill had netted to compliment a Seanie McConville point to put McAnespies in the lead.  A second goal for McAnespies, this time a well placed finish from McConville, knocked the Tones off their stride.  Several chances to add to the points tally went awry, though Walsh did manage to add a fourth.  At the break it was a 2-1 to 0-4 lead for McAnespies.

Cormac Joyce-Power on the attack.
The second half saw the teams efforts cancel each other out.  Marty Farrell found the mark a couple of times to add to the Tones tally, however, marksman McConville pointed twice for McAnespies, while another from Donnelly maintained the gap between the teams.  McAnespies will have a tough nut to crack in the form of Donegal in next week’s semi-final as Donegal looked tight throughout the field, and were impressive with their shooting, in their encounter against the Gaels.

Macs:  P. Coakley, P. Daly, M. Bogue, M. Boyle, S. McConville, J. McGourty, R. O’Domhnaill, D. Spratt, C. Donnelly, R. Kennedy, J. Brickland, C. McComiskey, D. Kennedy.  Tones:  P. Miskell, D. McGuire, P. Collins, M. O’Brien, L. Kiely, C. McConnell, B. McSHea, D. McDonnell, G. Brilly, C. Joyce-Power, M. Farrell, G. Walsh, D. McCabe.

Donegal 1-13 Connemara Gaels 3-2

It was clear that there would be one winner from the early going in this one.  Donegal had established a seven point lead and late in the first half the Gaels had yet to score.  It was only with the cat out of the bag that the Gaels made any inroads, three late goals put a gloss on the scoreboard.

Donegal had the Gaels on the back foot all game.
Tony McCleneghan opened the scoring with a goal, and the Moville man soon followed with a goal haing taken advantage of a ball that broke nicely to him, Eoin Connolly in goal had no chance.  Donegal’s forwards looked particularly impressive, Ephrain McFadden and Emlyn Mulligan also hit the mark with some fine looking scores as Donegal pulled away.  The Gaels only score of the first half was a Noel Graham point with the period almost up.

Damien Doolan and Tony McCleneghan contest a high ball.
The second half started the way the first ended with the Gaels struggling to make any meaningful inroads into Donegal territory, while the northerners had their way.  Eventually the Gaels struck a blow with a lovely Luke Purcell goal into the far corner, however, Mulligan hit an equally good point from a tight angle and Declan McBride followed with another.  Sean Conneeley and Tom McDonagh netted one each with full time approaching to reduce the gap to five points, but that was as close as it got.  Donegal looking good going into the semi final next week.

Donegal:  J. Byrne, M. Canny, D. Doherty, S. Doherty, D. Green, T. McCleneghan, M. Smyth, G. Gallagher, E. McFadden, C. Hughes, C. McDevitt, E. Mulligan, N. Kelly.  Gaels:  E. Connolly, D. Leech, B. Bentley, L. Purcell, D. Doolan, S. Conneeley, N. Graham, T. Sally, T. Higgins, C. Mulkerrin, R. Caffrey, B. Walsh, M. Byrne.

By Rory O’Donnell

Schedule May 16
Pat O’Brien Cup Semi Finals
4:30 – Shannon Blues v Christopher’s

5:30 – Donegal v Aidan McAnespies

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Losers Turn Winners as Blues and Christopher’s Advance

The losers from last week’s first round games, Shannon Blues and Christopher’s, were the winners on Saturday afternoon as the first knockout games of the Pat O’Brien Cup were played. 

With the weather considerably warmer and spring taking hold, the action began early with Aidan McAnespies taking on Donegal in the final first round game at 2:00.  Donegal prevailed.  Having held an 8 points to one half time lead, the men from the North West held off a second half rally to end up winners by 0-11 to 1-4.

A scheduling snafu, which demonstrates the power of social media, saw Kerry and the Shannon Blues turn up earlier than the officially appointed time, and went ahead with the  game.  The Blues ran out winners by a score of 2-14 to 3-4 and advance to the semi-finals.  Kerry led by 2 points at the break, but the Blues rallied impressively to turn the deficit into a 7 point victory.  Kerry had the misfortune of losing key home-based player, Ian Whelan to an ankle injury in the second half. 

The final game of the day saw Galway and Christopher’s fight it out.  Christopher’s looked like the stronger side with a solid midfield and forward line and were never behind at any stage in the game.  There were some well worked scores.  Christopher’s looked sharp with a first half goal from Dara Bree and another in the second from Aherlow man, Tom Fahy, each involving quick, incisive passing and running.  Christopher’s will meet the Blues in the semi-final two weeks from now.
Next week sees the other 2 quarter finals between Wolfe Tones and Aidan McAnespies at 4:30, followed by Donegal and Connemara Gaels, to see who will advance to the first semi-final.  

Christopher’s 3-10 Galway 2-6
Tom Fahy on the attack for Christopher's.
A strong performance from Christopher’s saw them past Galway and into the semi-finals.  Having led by double scores at the break, 2-6 to 1-3, Christopher’s pressed home their advantage in the second half to run out 10 point winners.

The early going was tit for tat.  Galway answered points from Dan Kenneally and Dara Bree with a Danny Reddin strike, and a Paddy Manning goal was returned in kind by JJ Doyle.  Doyle and Christopher’s keeper, Murt Hunt, required time to recover as they clashed while challenging for a ball on the edge of the small square, it was Doyle’s fist that made the critical connection with the ball to direct it into the net.
With half time approaching the teams were level.  Doing some tidy work at corner forward, Manning had extended Christopher’s lead to two, while a Doyle free and a Jamie Kehoe point tied it up.  Christopher’s, however, struck with a late flurry of scores.  A well worked goal saw Dara Bree finish expertly into the bottom corner, and points from the Aherlow man, Fahy, had Christopher’s sitting pretty to start the second period.

Thomas Gallagher.
Christopher’s fired some early wides, which proved to serve as warning shots for things to come.  David Cash and Doyle traded points before Fahy fired home a third goal for Christopher’s which involved another great move that started in the  Christopher’s half back line and opened up Galway’s rearguard.  Galway began to look increasing frustrated with the turn of fortunes, and some stray passes added to that.  The sides finished up exchanging points to wind things up.  Christopher’s into the semi-finals while Galway will look toward the first round of the championship on May 31.

Christopher’s:  M. Hunt, K. Fuligniati, M. McSweeney, P. Kenneally, E. O’Neil, J. Horgan, P. Delaney, C. Murphy, D. Cash, D. Bree, T. Fahy, P. Manning, D. Kenneally.  Galway:  D. Bindon, G. Lundy, P. Cummins, J. Doyle, S. Marshall, A. Murphy, J. Kehoe, J. Campion, T. Gallagher, D. Reddin, K. Gallagher, JJ Doyle, K. Cummins.
By Rory O’Donnell

Orla Benson Cup
The Orla Benson Cup will start on May 31 with a round robin blitz between the 3 ladies clubs which will decide the finalists.  The final will be played the following weekend.