Monday, August 22, 2016

Junior A Football Semi-Finals: Donegal v Cork; Connemara Gaels v Shannon Blues

Connemara Gaels 2-16 Shannon Blues 2-4

It was brother v brother Sunday when the Connemara Gaels and Shannon Blues met in the junior A football semi-final.  Pat and Stephen Murray lined out on opposite sides, with Stephen earning the household bragging rights as the Gaels came out on top.  With the win the Gaels earned a crack at the junior A championship where they will face a talented Donegal side.  Signs of a Gaels victory came early as the Connemara men found their groove the scores seemed came with frequency.  Niall Loughman in midfield, along with corner forwards Darragh Mulgrew and Phil O’Sullivan, were the axis that kept the Gaels on top throughout.

Connemara Gaels Junior A Team
The Gaels went into the break with a nine point lead.  The westerners dominated the half behind the midfield play of Niall Loughman and, with Phil O’Sullivan and Darragh Mulgrew, busy in the full forward line possession was turned into scores.  O’Sullivan and Mulgrew accounted for eight of the Gaels 11 points, and there could have been two goals but O’Sullivan was twice denied.  First a great save from Mike Moriarty and soon afterwards defender Simon Sinnott stepped in to block from close range.

The Blues struggled to create chances, points from Maurice Young and Conor Mullan the sole reward for their efforts.  Conor Fitzgerald was in at one stage with a half chance for a goal, but the ball ended up going just wide of the posts. 

The Blues would need a major turnaround to have a chance as the Gaels lead stood at 9 points starting the second half.  The O’Sullivan – Mulgrew machine continued to purr along nicely.  At the back the Gaels defenders were alert to everything coming in and stifled most of the Blues endeavor.

After Conor Fitzgerald was black carded the Gaels were awarded a penalty that O’Sullivan slotted away to the keeper’s left.  The game was pretty much in the bag at that stage, though the Blues scored a couple of consolation goals in the final minutes. 
The Gaels will face a Donegal team that eased through their semi-final the night before, in the final next Sunday.

Gaels:  P. Sweeney, D. Black, F. Cassidy, D. Doolan, K. Gavigan, S. Reilly, N. Loughman, J. Farrragher, T. McDonagh, C. Mulkerrins, S. Murray, D. Mulgrew, P. O’Sullivan.

Blues:  M. Moriarty, D. O’Brien, S. Sinnott, S. Eustace, J. Craig, P. Moriarty, J. Walsh, P. Murray, P. Duffy, M. Young, C. Mullan, C. Fitzgerald, K. Barry.

Cork 1-6 Donegal 1-18

Donegal strolled into the junior A football final against a hapless looking Cork side.  By half time the northerners led by 1-11 to 0-2 as Cork did themselves no favours with turning over possession in their own half and failing to take advantage of what chances came their way.  The rebels turned the ball over on countless occasions trying to play out of defence and Donegal punished them.  Donegal dominated the middle of the field and the forwards capitalized.  Cian Clinton at wing forward put some well taken points over the bar, and the goal came from a Christy McLaughlin penalty following a foot block in the box.

Things got not better in the second half for Cork, any chances that came their way were fluffed.  It was only in the final 10 minutes that Cork managed to show what they were capable of during the season and picked off a handful of points and netted a late goal to make the scoreboard look a bit more respectable.  With a sold side fielding, Donegal must fancy their chances heading into the final.

By Rory O'Donnell

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