Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Sun Aug 14 - Senior Football Q/F: Aidan McAnespies v Connemara Gaels

Connemara Gaels 4-10 Aidan McAnespies 0-10

The Connemara Gaels saw themselves through to the senior football semi final with an impressive, controlled performance against Aidan McAnespies.  A week ago the Gaels conceded 4 goals against the same opposition and at that had Eoin Connolly to thank for keeping them in the game, however Sunday Connolly was hardly troubled.  When McAnespies put some pressure on and tried to turn momentum to scores in the second half, the Gaels defence worked doggedly to close the spaces down.  Ryan Rafferty was the hero up front for the Gaels, and the speedy corner forward netted a hat trick to see his side through to the next phase of the championship.

Connemara Gaels made a date for themselves with Wolfe Tones next Sunday.
The first half saw the Gaels establish a 6 point lead, with two goals standing between the teams.  The Connemara men played some nice build up football, and had a lively Ryan Rafferty at corner forward causing palpitations for the McAnespies supporters.  With the Gaels having netted already twice, Rafferty won the ball in his corner and almost netted on two further occasions.  Ryan McCrystal made a fine save with his legs the first time, and on the second Conor Daly intervened to block the shot to the empty net and keep their team in touching distance.

Rafferty had bagged a goal early in the half, the Armagh native netted following a move that was started by Cian Sheehan.  John O’Brien punished McAnespies with a second goal after a mis-hit short kickout and blasted the ball off the inside of the post.  The teams were a match in the points column; the Gaels had Ronan Kennedy on the mark, while for McAnespies it was Kevin McKernan.  Stephen Attride, Conor Daly, and Dessie Ward chipped in with a point each, though in the latter stages of the half McAnespies missed some opportunities to close the gaps with a handful of chances wide of the posts.  2-6 to 0-6 at the half in the Gaels favour.

Despite a lot of hard work Aidan McAnespies could not break down the Gaels defence.
The Gaels were forced to work hard in defence in the second half.  It was do or die for McAnespies and the northerners pushed hard from the restart to try and open up the Gaels rearguard but could not find any space in which to operate.  The Connemara men hassled and harried and kept their opponents at bay.  With that, the Gaels struck with a third goal against the run of play, again from Rafferty. 

McAnespies built up some momentum and were putting plenty of pressure on the Gaels defence.  The northerners closed the gap by two points after JP Gallagher and Conor Daly pointed, but with 7 points standing between the teams, a goal was really needed at that stage to make the game interesting.  Rafferty was still the main outlet for the Gaels and broke the McAnespies pressure with a well taken point, and shortly afterwards completed his hat trick after turning McAnespies defence inside out.  It was a very good performance from the Gaels, and sets the westerners up well for next week’s semi-final with table toppers, Wolfe Tones.

Gaels: E. Connolly, L. Cullen, J. Wyndham, J. O’Shea, D. Larkin, S. Conneely, F. Cooney, R. Hyde, C. Sheehan, R. Caffrey, J. O’Brien, R. Rafferty, R. Kennedy.

Macs: R. McCrystal, J. Allen, M. Boyle, C. Daly, P. Holloway, R. Reynolds, S. Daly, D. Ward, P. Daly, K. Mckernan, S. Attride, S. Gillespie, A. Forde.

By Rory O'Donnell

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