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 

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