Monday, August 31, 2015

Junior B Football Final: Aidan McAnespies v Donegal

Donegal 3-12 Aidan McAnespies 1-9

Donegal captured the junior B football championship, the first of 3 finals in which the club would be competing, in a dogged game against rivals Aidan McAnespies.  There was a contrast in styles, with Donegal having the speed to employ the running game, while McAnespies used a more direct approach.  Three goals put the game away for Donegal, the third came just as McAnespies were making a second half comeback.  McAnespies had put three points in a row over the bar and crept within four points before John Duggan canceled them out with one kick of the boot.

A very happy Donegal Captain, Seamus Sweeney, accepts the trophy
from Boston Northeast Chairman, John Cunningham. 
If not for the butt of the Donegal post there would have been just two points in it at half time rather than the five that separated the teams.  Early in the half Neil Donaghy’s shot had Christy McLaughlin beaten but the ball cannoned off the foot of the post with McAnespies leading by two points to one.  Soon afterwards John Duggan dispossessed Niall Duffy and poked the ball across the line, and from that point on Donegal were in front.

McAnespies survived off the free taking of Ryan McCrystal who tallied their first three points from the dead ball – and ended up with seven of McAnespies points from frees.  Donegal had a little bit more of youth and fitness on their side and moved the ball well.  A point from Jason Costello and a second goal from Duggan were the result of sweeping downfield moves involving multiple handpasses till the ball reached the scorer.  Adam Kellet battled well in the full back line for McAnespies, as did Rory O’Donnell at corner forward, as McAnespies tried to undo the Donegal advantage.  Eventually, just before the break, an early ball from Donaghy to Peadar Nugent was buried by the veteran into the far corner to keep McAnespies in it.  At the break it was Donegal 2-6 and McAnespies 1-4.

Donegal tallied the first 2 points of the second half as the speed of the forward line opened up the McAnespies defence again.  Mattthew Cutliffe and Duggan pointed.  McAnespies dug in however and delivered several balls into the hands of Nugent at full forward.  Donegal’s fouling led to three points from the boot of McCrystal and the gap between the sides was closed to four points.

Donegal had another goal up their sleeve.  The ball was worked into the hands of Duggan who sidestepped the keeper and shot into the open net.  Immediately following the score, with Donegal ahead now by seven points, a row broke out that led to the marching orders for Michael McNally, and McAnepies had 12 minutes to try to make up the difference with a man down.  It was not a day for miracles and Donegal shepherded the win home with four points down the stretch to take the junior B football trophy for the second time in 3 years.

Donegal:  C. McLaughlin, S. Sweeney, P. McNulty, M. McBride, H. Devine, T. McConnell, P. McLaughlin, J. Byrne, R. Shovlin, R. Ivers, J. Costello, M. Cutliffe, J. Duggan.  Macs:  N. Duffy, E. Daly, A. Kellet, S. Clifford, P. McCusker, M. McNally, N. Donaghy, R. McCrystal, D. Slevin, P. Nugent, G. McAlinden, D. Magill, R. O’Domhnaill.

By Rory O'Donnell

Junior C Hurling Final: Portland v Barley House Wolves

Portland HC 5-15 Barley House Wolves 0-5

Portland did it in 2015 and did it in style.  The hurlers from Maine went unbeaten in their eighth season to win the Boston Northeast championship.  With a back line that was well on top and each of the front seven well capable of putting the ball over the bar it was a dominant performance and proved all too easy in the end.

Portland Captain Larry Maher accepts the cup from
John Cunningham.
Portland dominated proceedings, holding their opponents scoreless for the first 30 minutes while tallying 2-9 themselves.  Portland held all the aces, both Conor Boyle and Larry Maher in the middle of the field made a great partnership, as did corner forwards Aidan O’Brien and Matt Anderson.   Portland’s scores were well spread across the forward line.  Dan Flanagan, Alan McGrath, Anderson and O’Brien each got on the scoresheet.  The goals came from McGrath and O’Brien.  O’Brien first timed a ball across the face of the goal into the net, while McGrath took his from about 14 yards.

Barley House Wolves struggled against the fitter Portland side.  There were a handful of chances to get into the danger zone.  Ryan Nickerson, Nick Lawrence and Dean Williams worked hard to try and advance their side’s cause, but to no avail.  Pat Naughton did well between the posts for the Concord side, and really could not do anything about either goal.  At the break Portland held an unassailable looking 2-9 with their opponents yet to score.

A couple of changes were made for the second half.  Ross Myers came into the game for Portland, and the youngster looked very stylish tallying a point early on.  In an effort to try and get some forward momentum Pat Naughton came out of goal and the fortunes of the Wolves improved somewhat.  Naughton and Nick Lawrence tallied points to get the New Hampshire lads off the mark, but with Joel Wezowicz patrolling the Portland half back line making a meaningful dent in the lead was going to be tough.

2015 Junior C Hurling Champions, Portland.
Towards the end of the game a minor fracas broke out that ended with referee Kevin O’Donnell issuing yellow cards to Matt Wilson of the BHW and Jon Gormley of Portland, though the game was played in a good spirit throughout.  Additional goals were scored by Anderson, Bryon Williams and Sean Matthews before all was said and done.  So, on the Chicago as Northeast champs for Portland and best of luck to the Mainers in the finals.

Portland:  JJ Twohig, J. Gormley, C. Denton, E. Burns, J. Wezowicz, D. Adams, C. Boyle, L. Maher, D. Flanagan, B. Williams, A. McGrath, A. O’Brien, M. Anderson.  BHW:  P. Naughton, A. Foley, C. Thompson, C. Martin, D. Williams, W. Perry, S. Durfee, N. Lawrence, R. Burnham, R. Nickerson, M. Wilson, J. Mullen,T. Hughes.

By Rory O'Donnell

Monday, August 24, 2015

Men's Senior Football Semi-Final: Wolfe Tones v Aidan McAnespies

Wolfe Tones 0-15 Aidan McAnespies 1-6

Wolfe Tones put in a comprehensive performance to reach their second senior football final in a row.  The Tones looked the fitter, sharper team.  After shipping an early second half goal, that in the past would have seen the Tones crumble, this team gathered themselves, shook it off and went about their business, ending up six point winners.

David Hyland gets his hands on this ball.
It was the Tones with a three point advantage at the end of the first period.  Just after the game began tempers flared and most players got involved.  Sensible heads prevailed thankfully and the action got underway in earnest.  Once the Tones settled they looked the more balanced side and generated some well worked scores.  Marty Farrell put a textbook give and go over the bar, Ciaran Hurley a brace, and Dara McVeety added a couple with his running from the half back line.

McAnespies managed to remain in touch as the Tones struggled to get their kickout signals straight.  Tony Donnelly put two points on the trot over from frees after Jemar Hall worked hard to tally a point.  Gareth O’Neill was a ball winner for McAnespies as they enjoyed a spell on top and came within a point of their opponents, but it was the Tones who ended the half the stronger side and added points from Hurley and McVeety, and led by three, 0-8 to 0-5, at the half.

Aidan McAnespies' Jemar Hall has four defenders to contend with.
The second half started with a McAnespies goal.  Ryan Kennedy made a great run from half back and ended with the ball to side step the keeper and put the ball away.  Tied game.  The Tones responded well.  Sean George patrolled the half back line well and read the danger to cut out a handful of attacking moves, while David Hyland did well in the middle of the field.  Points were converted by Hyland, Mike O’Brien, Farrell, McVeety, and Hurley as the Tones gradually recaptured and extended their lead with the ball finding the open man.

With the clock ticking down McAnespies needed a miracle, and it did not look like happening.  The Tones defended well and were in control, options were few and far between for their opponents.  Wolfe Tones into their second final on the trot, this time it is Donegal that they will have to overcome to win their first senior football championship.

Tones:  D. McDonnell, E. Powderley, P. Faulkner, C. Moynagh, S. George, D. McVeety, D. Hyland, G. Brilly, C. McCarthy, M. O’Brien, M. Farrell, C. Hurley, T. O’Connor.  Macs:  P. Coakley, E. Kerins, M. Boyle, G. O’Neill, R. Kennedy, F. McGeough, J. Brickland, M. Day, T. Donnelly, D. Fitzpatrick, C. Healy, J. Hall, C. Donnelly.

By Rory O'Donnell

Senior Hurling Semi-Final: Fr. Tom Burke's v Galway

Fr. Tom Burke’s 3-14 Galway 2-14

Tom’s made it to the senior hurling final to try and defend their championship title, though only just as Galway made it close coming into the last few minutes.  The game was tightly contested all the way through save for a period in the second half when Tom’s opened an eight point lead.  The champions had to bite their nails over the final few minutes as Galway pushed late in the game to try and turn the tables, but Tom’s held on and advance to meet a very good looking Tipperary side in the final.

Fr. Tom's Niall Burke has a shot from close range.
At the break the teams were all square, though Galway appeared to have to have the upper hand for most of the half.  Getting off to the faster start, the tribesmen were four points to one up at one stage,  Aaron Fogerty put a couple of well taken efforts over the bar, Darragh Murray and Rory Hickey also contributed to the tally.

Tom’s were slow to find the range and hit several wides early, and it took a David O’Mahoney goal to catch them up.  O’Mahoney cut between two defenders and his shot one-hopped into the net giving Evan Walsh little chance at a save.  Niall Burke was a big presence at center forward for Tom’s.  The Oranmore-Maree man and accounted for a point and at times had the Galway defence in disarray, but Tom’s did not add to their tally until O’Mahoney added another point before half time; it was tied at 1-4 to 0-7 at the half.

Darragh Murray plays the ball into the forwards.
Tom’s turned the screw in the second half.  Ross King put a penalty away to put Tom’s on top by two points after Galway had taken a one point lead with a Hickey point.  The deciding phase of the game came when Tom’s opened an eight point lead after adding a goal and six points to their total.  Cormac Joyce-Power netted the third goal for Tom’s, and points came from O’Mahoney, Burke and Sean Driscoll.   Very quickly Galway had a lot of ground to make up.

Galway did make it up to the tune of within two points.  Rory Hickey netted a penalty, and shortly afterwards Alan Keating pulled off a great save to keep his side on top as Galway lifted their efforts to try and overcome the deficit.  Galway shaved two more point off the lead through the Lisdowney man, Hickey, however, Tom’s held on to the one goal lead until the final whistle sounded.  The champions in the final again, however, it will take a superlative effort to reclaim the championship against a Tipp side that has looked invincible at times.

Tom’s:  A. Keating, S. Og Lyons, S. McClelland, C. Burke, K. Kennedy, S. Dolan, L. O’Neill, K. Dunne, C. Joyce-Power, N. Burke, S. Driscoll, D. O’Mahoney, R. King.  Galway:  E. Walsh, P. O’Dwyer, O. Teagle, C. Wafer, R. O’Hanrahan, W. Walsh, S. Roche, O. Keevers, D. Murray, J. McDowell, A. Fogerty, C. Murphy, R. Hickey.

By Rory O'Donnell

Senior Football Semi Final: Donegal v Shannon Blues

Shannon Blues 0-8 Donegal 0-9

It was a stop start affair between Donegal and Shannon Blues, a game that Donegal shaded by the slenderest of margins.  There has been plenty of needle between these clubs in recent years, not least earlier in the year when there were three sendings off, followed by some off field controversy; this was a game both sides wanted badly.  In the end the football was not great, however it was as exciting as they come with never more than a goal between the teams.  Shannon Blues made life difficult for themselves having to play most of the game down a man, but had the scores level at the end of normal time.  As each side looked for the winning score it was an Emlyn Mulligan free with the last kick of the game proved to be the game winner.

David Clifford tries to block this Jason Whelan attempt.
In spite of the sending off of David Clifford for a second yellow card the Blues held a two point advantage at the break.  After Donegal pointed twice through Mulligan frees the Blues edged ahead.  Meath native Eamonn Wallace drew the Blues level with two points, before Sean O’Connor pointed a free and Wallace again scored.  It was scrappy enough period, with frequent stoppages and Pat Casey had to intervene on several occasions to issue warnings, and cards as the situation warranted.  Donegal will rue a couple of missed opportunities to eat into the Blues lead before the break, much to the Blues supporters delight the efforts went adrift of the posts.

There was a plethora of changes in the second half.  Donegal introduced Mal McDermott to the fray and shortly after pointing, he had to leave the field after being issued a black card.  Donegal had turned the deficit to a two point lead.  Four points on the trot from Mulligan, Jason Noctor, and McDermott edged the northerners ahead.  Mickey Boyle deserved credit for Donegal edging ahead as he had made a great save from Dara Roche to deny the Blues a goal. 

Sean O'Connor on the move for the Blues.
Soon afterwards Dara O’Brian for the Blues did likewise, saving a goal bound Jason Whelan shot to keep the Blues in touch.  Donegal opened the lead to four points, Nicky Kelly and Whelan with the points, to one O’Connor free for the Blues.  It looked like Donegal had established a firm grip as the Blues had little going for them up front, but a lifeline was thrown as Tony McCleneghan was sent off for a second yellow offence.  The Blues capitalized. O’Connor pointed twice and Roche leveled the scores as full time struck.  Would there be a winner or extra time?

With the game on the line and in injury time each ball would be critical and the teams scrapped for each and every possession. Donegal mounted a final attack and having beaten back the initial wave, the Blues conceded a free on their 21 after Shane Kelly was adjudged to have caught Nicky Kelly while challenging for the ball; both players had come on in the second half.  Free taker Mulligan kept his cool to put the kick over the bar and send Donegal into the final much to the evident satisfaction of Donegal players and supporters alike.

Blues:  D. O’Brien, T. Wallace, C. Jordan, T. Grey, D. McElligott, P. O’Shea, G. Horan, D. Treacy, D. Clifford, S. O’Connor, E. Wallace, D. Roche, K. Hurley.  Donegal:  M. Boyle, J. Noctor, C. Burke, R. McCleneghan, M. Smyth, D. Green, R. Kavanagh, B. Donnelly, P. McAleer, E. Mulligan, G. Gallagher, J. Whelan, L. Connor.

By Rory O'Donnell

Ladies Senior Football Semi-Final: Boston Shamrocks v Tir na nOg

Boston Shamrocks 1-11 Tir na nOg 2-9

The Boston Shamrocks and Tir na nOg played a very exciting semi-final, a game in which either side could have won, each side gave everything, and in the end it was the narrowest of margins that separated the teams.  Tir na nOg had a seven point advantage after the first half, and the Shamrocks stormed back in the second only to fall short at the very end.

Two goals and a point separated the teams at the half time break, and each team suffered a loss in personnel to injury.  Towards the end of the half the Shamrocks’ Rebecca Kelly had to leave the field and Shauna Jackson also suffered a game ending injury, both appeared to be knee related.  Jackson had opened the scoring with a goal from a long range effort that floated into the far corner of the net, Tir na nOg off to a flying start.  Caroline Nee netted the second after getting on the end of a ball put across the face of goal by Fiona Morrissey and the Shamrocks had a lot of ground to make up. 

The Shamrocks' Sara Delahunt faces Louise Bergin.
Tir na nOg held the edge in play for most of the half, driving forward through Louise Bergin, Nee, and Morrrissey.  At the other end of the field Niamh Daly did well at wing back, while the full back line held their opponents in check.  Points came from Jackson, Chloe Ryan, Morrissey, and Rebecca Stapleton.  The Shamrocks pointed through Rebeccca Mongan, and Lisa Flynn as they generated chances, but often overplayed the ball.  At the half it was a 2-6 to 0-5 lead in favour of the Brighton side.

The second half saw the Shamrocks come back into it.  This time it was Tir na nOg who were breaking down in the opposing half of the field as Sinead Woods and Sarah Delahunt carried the game from midfield for the Shamrocks.  Four points in the trot from Brid Devlin, Delahunt, and Leanne McCrystal brought the Shamrocks within a goal of their opponents as the clock ticked away.

Alison Taylor breaks away from Ciara McCormack.
Each side defended with immense determination in the critical last 10 minutes with the game in the balance.  Lisa Brick held the fort for Tir na nOg and Bernadette Murray did likewise for the Shamrocks; either side wanted to be the one that let up.  It was up and down the field as each side went looking for that critical score, legs tired and passes went astray and the closer the final whistle came, the more it felt that either side could win it, Shamroks with a winning score or Tir na nOg with an insurance. 

It was Tir na nOg that made the breakthrough after Daly returned to the action following a spell in the sin bin.  A pointed Chloe Ryan free was followed by a hard earned Shelly Walsh point to put two scores between the teams.  Ryan’s would prove to be a critical score as in injury time Delahunt hit a goal for the Shamrocks – it came a few minutes too late.  With the kickout the final whistle sounded and it will be Tir na nOg versus Connacht Ladies in a repeat of last year’s final.

Shamrocks:  L. Burke, B. Devlin, S. McLaughlin, C. McEleaney, C. McCormack, B. Murray, A. McDonnell, S. Woods, S. Delahunt, L. Flavin, R. Mongan, L. McCrystal, S. O’Dowd, L. Flynn, R. Kelly.  Tir na nOg:  N. Hynes, J. Davoran, R. Stapleton, L. Brick, N. Daly, A. Taylor, F. NiBhriain, F. Morissey, C. Nee, R. Stapleton, C. Ryan, S. Truarsk, S. Walsh, L. Bergin, S. Jackson.

By Rory O'Donnell

Junior A Football Semi-Final: Wolfe Tones v Connemara Gaels

Wolfe Tones 6-15 Connemara Gaels 2-4

Wolfe Tones demolished the Connemara Gaels in the second of the junior A semi-finals.  The game remained relatively close until shortly after the restart when the floodgates opened and the Tones put in three goals in quick succession.  From then on the result was in no doubt as the Gaels soldiered on while the Tones looked forward to a date with Donegal next Sunday.

James O'Donnell and Kevin Gorham challenge for this kickout.
Wolfe Tones held the edge in the first half, and netted twice towards the end of the period.  The Gaels got off to a two points start, AJ Maguire and Brendan Walsh each did the honors.  The Tones were on level terms soon enough with points from Noel Crowe and Kyle Lynch, and the exchanges were fairly even over the first 20 minutes.  The Gaels then went through a long period where they struggled to get the ball out of their own half, the Tones half back line were well on top. 

With the teams on level terms at three points a-piece the Tones won a penalty after Crowe was pulled down in the penalty area by Fergal Cassidy.  Lynch expertly slotted the kick into the bottom corner.  Lynch followed with a point, and after the Tones opened up the Gaels defence, Pa Collins put a close range effort into the back of the net.  The Gaels managed to make some inroads thereafter, however all their efforts could not yield a score which was badly needed to make up some of the deficit.  At the break it was a 2-4 to 0-3 Tones lead.

Stephen Murray peels away from Gavin Walsh.
Shortly following the restart the Tones were firmly in command.  The warning signs were there for the Gaels after O’Brien hit the crossbar with a goal on the cards, and soon afterwards another shot flashed across the face of goal.  Lynch, Danny O’Callaghan, and Cathal Moriarty extended the Tones lead with a point each before a 3 goal salvo put the game away.  The first came from Lynch, and was followed by another after Willie Milner found O’Callaghan who had just Stephen Murray to beat.  A third came right from the kickout which fell to Pa Collins, and the midfielder put the game away with the finish.

Down by a massive score, the Gaels battled on.  AJ Magure pulled on a loose ball in the box to tally a goal, and then Tommy McDonagh took advantage of a lapse in concentration on the Tones line as he lined up a 14 yard free.  McDonagh hit it low and found the back of the net.  Although the Tones work was done, Luke Purcell, Brian Joyce, Coleman Conroy, and Maguire tried to lift their side for the final quarter, however the Tones saw out the game with points from Lynch, Crowe, Milner and Lyndon Kiley. And so, it will be a Donegal versus Wolfe Tones junior A final next Sunday with Donegal going for the pat Callaghan Cup for the third time in 4 years.

Gaels:  S. Murray, C. Lafferty, F. Casssidy, K. Walsh, L. Purcell, C. Conroy, B. Joyce, T. McDonagh, AJ Maguire, J. O’Donnell, K. Lowe, K. Owens, B. Walsh.  Tones:  P. Miskell, A. Rooney, C. Corrrigan, L. Kiley, J. Carroll, K. Regan, N. Crowe, P. Collins, K. Lynch, K. Gorham, C. Moriarty, F. O’Brien, G. Walsh.

By Rory O'Donnell

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Senior Football Quarter Final: Wolfe Tones v Connemara Gaels

Connemara Gaels 3-2 Wolfe Tones 0-13

The Gaels and Tones were locked in pitched battle for 80 minutes after the game went to extra time.  The Gaels banged in 3 first half goals and although they did not score at all in the second half, still held the lead until just before the full time whistle.  Marty Farrell point leveled the scores and forced into the extra time period.  The Tones had the extra bit of gas in the tank to outscore the Gaels three points to one and advance to a semi-final against Aidan McAnespies next Sunday.

Tomas O'Connor and Ryan Caffrey tangle.
The first half was hotly contested with each side contesting every inch of space.  The Gaels got off to a great start with Kevin McCarthy finishing a move involving Martin Farragher and Tony Brosnan.   The Tones enjoyed the advantage in possession thereafter and set about chipping away at the rock face.  Conor Moynagh did well at wing back and came forward on every opportunity, scores were set up for Ciaran Hurley, Gary Brilly who took two fine efforts, and then a third for the veteran Kilcock man. 

The Gaels fought hard at the back end of the half, but seemed to struggle going forward.  The main threats of Brosnan and Farragher were kept in check.  The wave broke in the final 5 minutes of the half however.  A Tony Brosnan point was followed by two goals, one each from Cillian Fahy and Sean Conneeley.  Conneeley was to be found wherever needed and worked extremely hard, and on this occasion was the extra man going forward.  Ryan Caffrey found him coming unmarked and the finish was coolly placed into the bottom near corner.  At the break it was 3-1 to 0-5.
The Tones put the first three points of the second half over the bar, two Hurley frees and a Brilly effort from play.  While the Tones made better use of their possession, the Gaels efforts were frequently broken up before a shooting chance presented itself.  The half went scoreless for a long stretch and play was scrappy with frequent stoppages.  While the football was not attractive the excitement was at fever pitch with each team trying to gain an edge by whatever means possible. 

The Gaels had a chance to make up the three points. Kevin McCarthy’s shot was blocked with a foot in the penalty area and a penalty awarded, however, Sean Conneeley’s shot was well saved by Darren McDonnell, and the rebound was drilled against the post.   The Gaels were hanging on to that lead, though not through adding to their tally.  McVeety edged the Tones within a point and there were five minutes left to play.  The crowd were on their feet for the final minutes, and the Gaels still blanked for the entire 30 minutes.  Marty Farrell leveled the scores with a point entering injury time and after a Martin Farragher shot was skied the final whistle sounded.  At the 60 minute whistle it was 3-1 to 0-10 and there would be extra time.

The first period of extra time saw chances for either side few and far between.  The only score was a Donal Nugent pointed free.  Noel Graham broke the Gaels scoring duck with a point just after the restart, however Nugent restored the Tones lead with another free.  After Sean Conneeley had to leave the field having picked up a second yellow card the Tones would have a one man edge to see out the final minutes.  After the Tones added an insurance point, the Gaels pushed for a goal to try and steal the game but it did not come.  The Tones into the semi-final where they will meet Aidan McAnespies.

Gaels:  E. Connolly, K. McGeary, F. Cooney, N. Duggan, R. Caffrey, C. Mulkerrins, C. Fahy, N. Graham, S. Conneeley, M. Farragher, F. Burns, K. McCarthy, T. Brosnan.  Tones:  D. McDonnell, E. Powderly, P. Faulkner, C. Moynagh, S. George, D. McVeety, D. Hyland, A. Molloy, M. O’Brien, G. Brilly, C. Hurley, T. O’Connor, M. Farrell.

By Rory O'Donnell 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Senior Football: Donegal v Christopher's

Donegal 0-16 Christopher’s 1-6

Donegal had little trouble brushing aside the challenge of a weakened Christopher’s team.  Donegal played at third gear for most of the game, maybe not the best preparation for next week’s semi-final for the northerners.  Christopher’s edge was blunted and they struggled to generate chances, while for Donegal there were opportunities aplenty for the likes of Lorcan Connor, Emlyn Mulligan, and Jason Whelan.

Liam Kitterick was a busy man at corner back on Sunday.
Donegal did not have too much trouble establishing a sizeable lead over their opponents who had lost some key players in the last week.  Without the big guns of Sean White and marksman Cathal Vaughan it would be an uphill task for Christopher’s from the get go. 
Donegal put some well taken points over the bar in the opening perios, Emlyn Mulligan accounted for one great effort from a tight angle near the sideline, and Lorcan Connor accounted for three.  Paddy McAleer, Rory Kavanagh and Matt Smyth also got in on the act.  Christopher’s managed a handful of points, two Tom Fahy free kicks and a hard earned Mark Delaney effort.  Fahy forced Mickey Boyle into a good save on a rare Christopher’s foray forward, however it was Donegal looking very comfortable with a ten points to four lead at the break.

Near misses at either end got the second half off to a start.  Matt Smyth was worked into the box and with just the keeper to beat the Killybegs native blasted the ball off the foot of the post.  Shortly afterwards Christopher’s had a golden opportunity to put a dent in the Donegal lead.  Danny Kenneally was pushed in the back while under a high ball.  Tom Fahy’s penalty however also cannoned off the foot of the Donegal post and the scores remained unchanged.

Lorcan Connor has a pop for Donegal.
Donegal added points from Mulligan and Connor, while David Dunne added the Christopher’s tally.  It was the high ball into Dan Kenneally that was the main thrust of Christopher’s efforts, however, Donegal kept the threat of the big man at bay and there seldom was a high ball to get under.  Hopes faded for Christopher’s as the game came to its conclusion, although a late penalty that was slotted home by Tom Fahy put some respectability on the scoreboard.  Donegal will face a tougher challenge when they meet Shannon Blues in next week’s semi-final.

Donegal:  M. Boyle, C. Burke, J. Noctor, T. McCleneghan, M. Smyth, D. Green, R. Kavanagh, B. Donnelly, P. McAleer, E. Mulligan, G. Gallagher, J. Whelan, L. Connor.  Christopher’s:  E. Keogh, K. Fulgniati, L. Kitterick, P. Kenneally, N. Rossiter, E. O’Neill, E. Nolan, J. Kenneally, M. Delaney, T. Cooper, C. Murphy, P. Manning, D. Kenneally.

By Rory O'Donnell

Senior hurling: Tipperary v Wexford

Wexford 1-14 Tipperary3-24

With Tipp in the final there was little to play for, but for Wexford a result might see them into a semi-final and avoid a possible play off against Galway.  As it turned out Wexford hung with their opponents for the first half, but in the second the Premier men pulled away and left Wexford waiting on the result of the Galway versus Fr. Tom’s game to determine their fate.  As it turned out, Galway knew what they had to do and got the job done by taking a point against Tom’s, and ending Wexford’s senior hurling season.

Rory Sludds clears from wing back.
At half time Tipp held a 2-8 to 1-9 lead.  Tipp had the edge early on.  Rory Sludds and David Dunne traded goals early, while for Tipp the scores were spread across the half forward line.  Adrian and Dan Morrissey, (no relations), put four points over the bar between them, while at corner forward David Reidy chipped in with a brace.  Wexford kept pace thanks to some nicely taken points by Barry Carton and Conor Murray, however a Reidy goal 5 minutes before the break put Tipp further ahead just as Wexford were making up some ground.

Tipperary turned the screw in the second half and mid-way through felt comfortable enough to start bringing on the subs.  Russell Quirke and John Roche entered the fray and each player helped themselves to a couple of points.  It was a third Tipp goal from Reidy that really killed the game.  Willie Egan had put a fine point over the bar from under the small stand before the goal.  DJ Foran responded with a point for Wexford, but that would be the last score for the Slaneysiders for some time.

Conor Murray does the same for Wexford.
Eight unanswered points sailed over the bar in the run in to the final whistle.  Two were back to back 65’s from Adrian Morrissey, and the others came from the subs.  It could have been worse, Nevin Rossiter pulled off two fantastic saves.  The first from Mike Ryan, and the second off the rebound from Alan Dempsey.  With the result in the bag, things for a little nasty in the latter stages and Ger Hoey had to show some yellow cards.  Tipperary roll on to the final where it will either be Galway or Tom’s providing the opposition.

Wexford:  N. Rossiter, K. Keyes, C. Robinson, T. Moloney, J. Desmond, C. Murray, J. Kehoe, DJ Foran, D. Walshe, E. Flaherty, B. Carton, E. Kavanagh, D. Dunne.  Tipp:  C. Hennesssy, D. Mahoney, S. McGarr, J. Rigney, W. Egan, R. Sludds, S. Molumphy, C. Dempsey, A. Morrissey, D. Morisssey, A. Dempsey, M. Ryan, D. Reidy.

By Rory O'Donnell

Senior Hurling: Galway v Fr. Tom Burke's

Galway 2-16 Fr. Tom Burke’s 2-16

There was a minutes silence observed in honor of Pat Ahern and Sean Cormican who both passed away recently.  Galway retired the number 8 shirt in honor for Sean Cormican, and the second midfielder will now wear number 14.

Galway started strong and finished strong to earn a draw against Fr. Tom Burke’s and a place in the semi-final next Sunday.  With Tom’s having taken a six point lead late into the second half, Galway introduced Aaron Fogerty for the final 15 minutes and their fortunes turned.  Galway turned the deficit into a one point lead and it was Niall Burke who had to salvage the draw for Tom’s with a late point.

Ross King shoots for Fr. Tom's.
Galway got off to the faster start.  The tribesmen had six points on the board before Tom’s got going.  Rory Hickey, Luke Allen, and Stephen Roche pointed before Hickey got on the end of a ball across the face of goal to bury the ball into the net.  Galway’s back line were fighting for every ball, the tribesmen were flying, and Tom’s yet to get started
Once Tom’s started they moved quickly.  Ross King got them off the mark with a point, and another two goals and four points had Tom’s quickly in the lead.  Niall Burke at center forward was the man on the spot for Tom’s and had a hand in both goals.  Burke put the first away himself, firing the ball into the far corner.  He set David O’Mahoney up for the second and put three points over the bar himself.  Galway on the other had missed a handful of good scoring chances in the lead up to half time.  By the break Tom’s held a 2-8 to 1-5 lead.
The second half saw Galway start brightly again, notching a goal and two points to Tom’s one point.  The goal was Hickey again, pulling on a loose ball from inside the 14.  Tom’s back line tightened up however.  Keith Kennedy at center back was around everything that dropped within a 30 yard radius of his position.  Also at corner back Sean McClelland was tight on his man and cleared several balls.

While Stephen Roche does likewise at the other end for Galway.
With the game entering the final quarter Tom’s held a five point lead.  Niall Burke had floated three points over the bar.  Murray and Stephen Roche brought the gap to a goal and Galway then had a golden chance to level the scores after Murray was fouled in the box.  Aaron Fogerty’s penalty was tapped wide of the posts by Alan Keating however, and Galway had to settle for a point from the ensuing 65.

Galway had some juice in the tank for the finale.  Substitute Fogerty was the main man for Galway down the stretch.  The Lisdowney club man tallied the final five points for Galway as the tribesmen finished the game strong and coming up to full time led by a point.  Niall Buckely saved the point for Tom’s, but it was enough for Galway to save themselves a playoff game in the middle of the week.

Galway:  E. Walsh, P. Dwyer, O. Teagle, C. Wafer, R. O’Hanrahan, W. Walsh, S. Roche, O. Keevers, L. Allen, J. McDowall, D. Murray, B. Whelan, R. Hickey.  Tom’s:  A. Keating, S. McClelland, C. Burgin, C. Joyce-Power, K. Kennedy, C. Burke, D. Costello, K. Dunn, S. Howley, N. Burke, S. Driscoll, D. O’Mahoney, R. King.

By Rory O'Donnell

Monday, August 10, 2015

Mens' Senior Football: Aidan McAnespies v Donegal

Donegal 1-9 Aidan McAnespies 2-7

Aidan McAnespies pulled off the most unlikely comeback with an injury time goal from Michael Day, though such were the number of bodies in the box the final touch could have gone to any one of four or five players.  McAnespies had lost Callum Comiskey to a sending off early in the first half and it looked as though Donegal had the points in the bag as the northerners led by seven points mid-way through the second half and were cruising. McAnespies pushed hard in the second half as Donegal tried to play out time, and the lead was pulled back to within 2 points late on.  In injury time Michael Day was the man on the spot to poke the ball home from close range in a goalmouth scramble, much to the joy the McAnespies players and supporters alike.
McAnespies David Fitzpatrick breaks away from the attention of Rory Kavanagh.
The first half was full of incident as tempers flared on a couple of occasions and Pat Casey had to pull out the cards.  With the teams tied at three points each a schmozzle broke out with McAnespies on the attack and the end result was that corner forward Callum Comiskey, was shown the red card.  There was about 15 minutes gone at that point and Donegal would have the extra man for 45 minutes.

Donegal's Jason Whelan on the attack.
Donegal used the extra man to their advantage and went into a four point lead before the break.  Lorcan Connor pointed twice, Emlyn Mulligan once, and Jason Whelan the other.  For McAnespies it was Tony Donnelly and Chris Healy with the early scores, but things dried up following the sending off and Chris Healy was the lone man up front, and hardly even had the scraps to feed off.  At the break Donegal led 0-7 to 0-3.

McAnespies had a goal chance early in the second half, however Mickey Boyle stood up well and saved David Fitzpatrick’s shot.  Connor had pointed to add to Donegal’s lead.  After Chris Healy had put McAnespies first score of the half over the bar Donegal struck with a goal.  The ball was worked in to Connor whose shot cannoned off the post and into the back of the net.  That was the point that the game seemed like it was over as a contest.  Donegal with a seven point lead, and they tried to play out time.

There was plenty to talk about in the final 15 minutes as McAnespies made a big push to try and turn the tables.  Donegal lost Gavin Gallagher to a black card, but still had 13 on the field.  Points from Healy, Collie Donnelly, and Fergal McGeough brought McAnespies within four points.  Gareth O’Neill, who entered the action in the second half buried a shot into the corner of the net and there was just a point in it.  

McAnespies continued to put the pressure on as Donegal tried to hang on to possession, and there was controversy as cries for a penalty were waved off when Healy appeared to be pulled down in the box.  After Connor had put Donegal two points to the good, McAnespies had one final attempt to pull off a result.  A free was taken short and worked close to goal, the ball came loose was pinged around the box before Day got the touch to turn the ball into the net amid a scramble of bodies.  The goal and the win mean that McAnespies finish top of the table and get two weeks to rest and prepare for the semi-finals.

Donegal:  M. Boyle, J. Noctor, C. Burke, T. McCleneghan, M. Smyth, D. Green, B. Donnelly, R. Kavanagh, G. Gallagher, E. Mulligan, E. Doherty, J. Whelan, L. Connor.  Macs:  P.Coakley, E. Kerins, M. Boyle, F. McGeough, R. Kennedy, B. Greenan, J. Brickland, M. Day, T. Donnelly, D. Fitzpatrick, C. Healy, J. Hall, C. Comiskey.

By Rory O'Donnell

Men's Senior Football: Galway v Connemara Gaels

Connemara Gaels 2-10 Galway 0-18

Galway had to win to maintain an interest in the senior football championship and win they did.  It was a great all round performance from the Brighton based side with some great attacking play from the half back line, and a handful of fantastic saves from keeper Jamie Kelly.  Galway always seemed to have the extra available option when in possession and moved the ball well.  The Gaels launched a late comeback effort and got to within a point, however Galway hung on to keep their interest in the senior football championship alive.

Galway's Craig Kennedy gives Noel Duggan the evil eye as he looks for a way past.
Galway took the break with a well deserved three point lead.  Kevin Mulvaney and Sean Marshall kept things moving in the middle of the field, while in the forward line Craig Kennedy, Jamie Kehoe and Kevin Cummins kept the Gaels backs on their heels.  Galway enjoyed the majority of possession and were always able to find the man in space to set up chances. 

The sides traded two points each to get things going, from then on Galway were in the ascendancy.  A Martin Farragher goal was all that broke up a string of Galway points in the middle of the half; the Gaels were struggling to get anything going.  Danny Reddin played the role of attacking wing back to great effect, and popped a couple of points over, while midfielder Kevin Mulvaney put a couple of bombs over the bar.  Craig Kennedy was another asset for Galway, opening space for himself and others and accounting for a handful of Galway’s eleven point tally.  The Gaels looked largely to Tony Brosnan for their scoring outlet and the man from Dr. Crokes accounted for four of the Gaels points.  Galway led by a score of 0-11 to 1-5 at the half.

Kevin McCarthy tries to get around Maurice Connaughton.
The second half saw each side drop shots short, however another Gaels goal kept the Connemara men in the game.  This one came from Cillian Fahy who finished from close range following some good work involving Frank Burns and Farragher.  Galway continued clocking up the points, wing backs Oran Keevers and Reddin, as well as Kennedy and Cummins each hit the spot. 

The Gaels attacked in search of goal as time was ticking away.  Kieran McGeary thundered through all the way from corner back and his shot blazed over the bar, and shortly afterwards his Pomeroy clubmate, Frank Burns forced Jamie Kelly to pull off an amazing save, Farragher cleaned up with a point.  The goal was in it in the final minutes as Galway had to defend in numbers to hold off the marauding Gaels.

Brosnan and Farragher inched the Gaels within a point as Galway tried to hang on to the dwindling lead.  Reddin put the final score over the bar just before the whistle to secure the win and Galway live on in the championship.  The Tribe will face the Wolfe Tones on Wednesday night and may have to do so without the services of Sean Marshall who suffered an ankle injury in the second half.

Gaels:  E. Connolly, K. McGeary, D. Black, D. Doolan, C. Fahy, F. Cooney, R. Caffrey, N. Graham, S. Conneely, M. Farragher, F. Burns, K. McCarthy, T. Brosnan.  Galway: J. Kelly, M. Collins, M. Connaughton, D.Reddin, L. Laheen, O. Keevers, S. Marshall, K. Mulvaney, J. Campion, K. Cummins, C. Kennedy, S. Regan, J. Kehoe.

By Rory O'Donnell

Senior Hurling: Fr. Tom Burke's v Wexford

Wexford 0 -14 Tom Burke’s 0-21

Fr. Tom’s solidified their second place in the table with a well earned win over Wexford.  It was a close run first half, however in the second Tom’s picked up their game and held Wexford’s inside threats of David Dunne and Barry Carton in check in the second half.  There were some fine scores from Keith Kennedy and Niall Burke to propel Tom’s to the win.

Tom's Kevin Dunne tries to break free from his challenger.
It was an entertaining first half at the end of which Tom’s held the slightest edge.  Tom’s got off to the faster start and had clocked up four points before Wexford tallied their first.  A Paul Winters free, Keith Kennedy, Paddy Purcell, and Winters again, this time play had Tom’s in the early lead.  Once Wexford got into it the scores began to flow.  Barry Carton was at corner forward was the main outlet for Wexford, and Conor Murray chipped in with some well taken efforts from midfield.

Each side fired several wides, however the gap was almost closed as Wexford pointed through Murray and Eoghan Kavanagh as the half drew to a close.  At the break it was Tom’s with 9 and Wexford with 8, and it was set up to be anybody’s game.

Wexford's Davey Dunne just escapes the challenge of Shane Howley.
Tom’s dug in for the second period and did some stellar work in the back line.  Dylan Costello and Shane Howley dropped to help in their own defence and along with Keith Kennedy, Simon Og Lyons and Sean McClelland, did plenty of cleaning up.  Wexford at times overplayed the ball rather than taking the early scoring chances, and that worked against them.  There were some amazing scores to add to the hard defensive work.  Kennedy put a couple of long range efforts over the bar from inside his own half.  Niall Burke was another major asset to his side at center forward and tallied some great scores himself.  

With Wexford’s corner forwards held in check the Brighton based side were forced to rely on long rage efforts from Conor Murray, however it was not going to be enough to turn the tide as Wexford needed a goal or two at that point to turn the tide.  A win for Tom’s who have booked their semi-final place.  Next week’s final round may not even decide who will join them; both Galway and Wexford have tough assignments in Tom’s and Tipp respectively.  If both teams win (or lose) we will be looking at a mid-week playoff scenario.

Tom’s:  A. Keating, S. Og Lyons, S. McClelland, S. Dolan, K. Kennedy, C. Burke, S. Howley, D. Costello, P. Purcell, N. Burke, P. Winters, D. O’Mahoney, K. Dunne.  Wexford:  S. Barry, K. Keyes, C. Robinson, M. Morris, J. Desmond, T. Moloney, J. Kehoe, C. Murray, E. Flaherty, E. Kavanagh, DJ Foran, B. Carton, D. Dunne.

By Rory O'Donnell

Men's Senior Football: Shannon Blues v Wolfe Tones

Shannon Blues 3-9 Wolfe Tones 0-6

Shannon Blues earned themselves a place straight into the semi-finals of the senior football championship with a first half bombardment that knocked the stuffing out of the Wolfe Tones.  The game was shaping up to be a close run affair, however just as I made a note that the Tones were defending well, the Blues opened up with three goals to effectively kill the game and earn a break next weekend.  The Tones never looked capable of coming back from the shock, while the Blues rode the wave.  The game ran to its inevitable conclusion in the second half as the Blues earn the weekend break before their semi-final, while for the Tones it is a mid week date with Galway to see who will play Connemara Gaels in the quarter final next weekend.

Dara Treacy on the move for the Blues .....
After Wolfe Tones had got off to a steady start the Blues wheeled out the howitzers and bombed their opponents with 3 goals.  With the score standing at three points to two and the Tones doing some good defensive work, the Blues hit with the first goal.  It came from Dara Roche following a good move involving Wayne Guthrie and Dara Treacy.  Darren McDonnell got a hand to the ball, but it was hit with such force that it carried to the far corner of the net.  The second came soon afterwards from Sean O’Connor after a long ball over the top was poked into the back of the net.  It was an unlikely score that followed so soon after the first that the Tones were stunned.

Roche and Barry Dwyer tagged on points to add to the Tones woes, and then to rub salt into the already open wound, a third goal came after Dwyer and Roche combined to provide Eamonn Wallace with an empty net to finish into. It was coming all too easy for the Blues.   It was all to do for the Tones at the break as the Blues led by a score of 3-4 to 0-3, with the Tones having gone scoreless for the last 20 minutes of the half.

...while Dara McVeety tries to get the Tones moving.
The second half saw the Blues extend their lead.  Roche, Horan, and Dwyer pointed to one Donie Nugent effort for the Tones.  The Blues looked confident and in no mood to relax and risk a late comeback as their previous 2 opponents had done.  The Tones made some changes and did generate chances, however were wasteful with their efforts.

The Blues last line of defence did well as the Tones tried to lob the high ball into Tomas O’Connor.  Trevor “Twiggy” Wallace did a diligent job and lifted the siege on several occasions, and even made a foray forward to join in the feast and help himself to a point.  The forwards slowed the game down when in possession.  The Blues into second place overall and will have a weekend off to prepare for the next big game.  The Tones bad luck continued after the game as due to 4 teams level on seven points, a draw had to be made to determine who would play off for the last quarter final place.  The Tones will meet Galway on Wednesday night to decide who advances.

Blues:  D. O’Brien, T. Wallace, C. Jordan, T. Grey, D. McElligott, P. O’Shea, W. Guthrie, D. Treacy, S. O’Connor, G. Horan, E. Wallace, B. Dwyer, D. Roche.  Tones:  D. McDonnell, E. Powderly, D. Hyland, C. McCormack, C. Moynagh, D. Maguire, D. Nugnet, G. Brilly, M. O’Brien, M. Farrell, D. McVeety, C. Hurley, T. O’Connor. 

By Rory O'Donnell