Sunday, May 21, 2017

Fr. Tom Burke’s 3-18 Galway 1-12

Conditions were good for the first outing of the season for the teams.  There was some good hurling on show and some well taken scores.  Tom’s came away with a handsome win by the time all was said and done.  There were some great performances throughout from several Tom’s veterans.  James Dooley did well at corner back, Dylan Costello in the half back line, and Chris Donoghue and Cormac Joyce-Power in the forwards.  Joyce-Power made good use of the ball that came into his corner, coming away with 10 points from play.

Paudge Egan with a free for Tom's.
With Tom’s leading by six points to three in the early going, a Gary Kelly goal solidified Tom’s advantage.  Galway responded to the goal well, scoring four points on the trot.  Adam Kenny, John Coleman and David Lordan the scorers.  Tom’s, however, finished the half well with three unanswered themselves.  Dylan Costello probably with the pick of the bunch from inside his own half.  Tom’s 1-11 Galway 0-8 at the break.

The second half saw Tom’s pull away.  The all-important first 10 minutes after the restart went to Tom’s.  Four balls into Joyce-Power’s corner and the four more points for the Limerickman.  Adam Kenny stemmed the tide for Galway with a desperately needed score, but the final quarter saw Tom’s add two more goals.  Shane Dooey, who was set up by Joyce-Power, and Shane Ryan capitalized on their chances.  A couple of scuffles flared up in the latter stages, but were handled well by referee Jimmy Rigney.  Adam Kenny netted late for Galway to improve the look of things on the scoreboard.

Tom’s:  Sean O’Brien, James Dooley, Brian Flynn, Dylan Costello, Donal Coughlin, David Burke, Seamus Higgins, Paudge Egan, Shane Dooey, Chris Donoghue, Shane Regan, C. Joyce-Power, Garry Kelly.

Galway:  Ray Grealish, Michael Lennon, Colm Daly, Cian Clifford, Seamus Loftus, Aidan Murphy, Martin Doyle, Sean Lordan, Adan Kenny, David Lordan, Enda Feeney, John Coleman, David O’Grady.
By Rory O'Donnell

McAnespies Survive Nervy Ending to Take the Pat O'Brien Cup

Aidan McAnespies 0-12 Donegal 0-9

Aidan McAnespies captured the first piece of silverware of the season with a 3 point win over Donegal.  Having outplayed their opponents for almost all of the 60 minutes, it was still a nervy ending for McAnespies.  A late diving save in injury time from Paddy Coakley denied Darren Doherty a goal that would have sent the game into extra time.  The McAnespies defence was outstanding throughout, closing the spaces and forcing Donegal into giving up the ball on almost every attack in the first half.  Marty Mongan, Jimmy Rigney and Robbie Croft we also all on form as McAnespies scored a sweet victory to claim the first trophy of the season. 

Gerry Prior presents McAnespies captain, Paddy Coakley,
with the Pat O'Brien Cup.
McAnespies streaked into a 5 points to one lead over the first quarter.  Each time Donegal were in possession the McAnespies back line swarmed and denied easy options to their opponents.  At the other end Macs capitalized on their chances.  Brian Breslin scored twice, attacking from wing back, while Croft, Che O’Donnell, and Mongan tallied one each.  Donegal were short on ideas, Derek Maguire carrying forward and not much happening afterwards.  Points did come from Sean Hume and Maguire for the Tir Chonaill men.  Donegal were short on a reliable free taker as different players tried their hand from within range, but with no success.  Before the break a point from Jimmy Rigney and two from Croft, one a lovely swinger from a tight angle, to a Lee Carr point for Donegal made it a 0-8 to 0-3 advantage for McAnespies at the break.

Aidan McAnespies, 2017 Pat O'Brien Cup Champions
The second half saw McAnespies up against it after Eoin Delmer was sent off following a second yellow card.  Donegal started to make noise, but still, could not capitalize on the chances that came their way.  Ironically, the most difficult dead ball effort of the day was sent over the bar by Brian Donnelly, and was answered by a great Croft effort from range.  The gap closed to within a score after Carr and Donnelly pointed and at that stage Donegal were laying siege to the McAnespies goal.  With the pressure building, it looked like the tide may be turning.  The teams were leveled up in personnel, however, after Brian Donnelly was yellow carded a second time and the pressure eased somewhat on the McAnespies defence.  Not entirely though, as after the sides traded two points each, nerves set in on the McAnespies sideline as a goal would level affairs.  Donegal got inside and captain, Paddy Coakley, dived to his left to keep out Doherty’s low drive.  Carr and Rigney each pointed as McAnespies played possession with the line begging referee Jason Long to blow the whistle which eventually came.

A sweet win for McAnespies, and a bright start to 2017.  Picking one player as man of the match is difficult as it was a team performance that carried the day for the Macs.  However, Brian Breslin’s attacking runs relieved pressure when needed, Jimmy Rigney put in a tremendously gutsy performance, and Croft popped up the scores from the chances that came his way. 

Donegal:  Pauric Miskell, Declan Scott, Jack O’Brien, Mark Canny, Darren Doherty, Neal McAneny, Brian Donnelly, Kevin Toner, Lee Carr, Derek Maguire, Conor Brennan, Sean Hume, Sean Donnelly.

Macs:  Paddy Coakley, Eoin Delmer, Seamus Breslin, Paul Clifford, Tommy Brerton, Brian Breslin, Marty Mongan, Niall Donaghy, Jimmy Rigney, Che O’Donnell, Eamon Joyce, Robbie Croft, Ciaran Wallace.
By Rory O'Donnell

Friday, May 19, 2017

Pat O'Brien Cup Final - Aidan McAnespies v Donegal

The first final of the young season will feature two clubs that have no love lost between them when Donegal and Aidan McAnespies meet next Saturday May 20, at 3:45.  The game has the potential to be a passionate affair.  Both teams won all of their group games and neither side will want to experience their first loss of the year. 

Donegal veteran Mark Canney is part of a
home base containing a lot of talent.
Donegal’s side looks full of talent with Louthmen, Brian Donnelly and Derek Maguire manning the midfield and half back line espectvely.  Up front the forward line includes the dynamic Lee Carr, and players capable of taking their points in Sean Hume and Sean Donnelly.  Alongside veteran players Darren Doherty, Mark Canney, and Declan MacBride Donegal will not lack the commitment, skill or passion for this one.

Aidan McAnespies are in the running for some early season silverware.
Aidan McAnespies are undergoing a rebirth of sorts.  With several new transfers, the Macs put out a strong and versatile side.  Seamie Breslin, PJ Gallagher and Jimmy Rigney have held the back line together well, but Saturday will have their work cut on the big field in the face of a very good set of Donegal forwards.  On the other side of the ball McAnespies have speed and quickness in Brian Breslin, and guile and experience in Robbie Croft.  Paul Clifford, Eoin Delmer, and Che O’Donnell have added strength to the lineup. 

One might give Donegal the slight edge in this one on what we have seen so far, but with panels still being filled out and the large field now providing the stage, there is a lot up in the air before we see who claims the first silverware of 2017.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Aidan McAnespies and Donegal into Pat O'Brien Cup Final

The final round of group games for the Pat O’Brien Cup saw Aidan McAnespies and Donegal make next Saturday’s final thanks to wins for each side.  The Macs just about survived a late Connemara Gaels surge to win their 3 games, while Donegal had a little easier time of things with a comfortable win over Christopher’s.  The final will be played on the main field, and from what we have seen in the last few weeks, it is an early season decider that will be worth .

Aidan McAnespies 1-10 Connemara Gaels 2-6

Jimmy Rigney tries to break the challenge
of Kevin Owens and Kevin McGrath
Aidan McAnespies survived a late 5 point Gaels surge to make it 3 out of 3 in the Pat O’Brien Cup and earn a date with rivals, Donegal, in next Saturday’s final.

In the early going it was a familiar story, Croft and Breslin showing, and combining, well in the corners while the back line did their job in stopping Gaels forays forward.  Che O’Donnell at half forward looked strong on the ball as McAnespies took a 1-2 lead.  The Gaels fought back.  A fantastic ball from Kevin McGrath put Sean Conneeley in position to net, and points followed from Paddy McGee and McGrath.  Maca finished the half well with points from Ciaran Wallace, Seamie Breslin and Brian Breslin to hold a 1-6 to 1-3 lead at the break.

The second half saw McAnespies pull away with 4 unanswered points after James Flaherty had reduced the gap to 2 points.  It looked like the Gaels would have to fold the tent after Flaherty and McGrath were black carded, however, a late surge saw points from Conneeley and Gavin McCrystal followed by a goal from McCystal, who had entered play following Flaherty’s black card.  McAnespies held on for the final minute for the win.

Macs:  Paddy Coakley, Jimmy Rigney, Paul Clifford,  Tommy Brethon, JP Gallagher, Seamus Breslin, Niall Donaghy, Martin Mongan, Eoin Delmer, Che O’Donnell, Ciaran Wallace, Robbie Croft, Brian Breslin.

Gaels:  Eoin Connolly, Ciaran Killeen, Niall McGinn, Ian Heanue, Ryan Caffrey, Joe O’Shea, James Flaherty, Kevin McGrath, Paddy McGee, Pauric McDonagh, Damien Doolan, Kevin Owens, Sean Conneeley.

Shannon Blues 1-20 Galway 0-9

Eyes on the ball.
Following McAnespies win, the game that meant little in terms of progression in the competition and was more of an opportunity for the teams to get a game under their belts before the championship starts just under 3 weeks from now. 

Shannon Blues came away with a comfortable victory.  Kerry duo, Lee O’Donoghue and Kieran Hurley, impressed again in the front line, and tallied 1-6 between them before the break.  Galway dug in and on occasion opened up the Blues defence.  Alex Kenny pointed, and later in the half James Doyle added a second, however, but other chances went awry for the tribesmen.

Entering the second half with a 1-10 to 0-4 lead the Blues looked comfortable and there was ample time for the run for the players who had not started the game.  Galway continued to battle to get as much as they could out of the time and converted several chances.  At the end of the cup run for each time the Blues look to have formed a solid base for the championship, and Galway will be looking to bring in some recruits over the next several weeks for their championship panel.

Blues:  Dara O’Shea, Fionn O’Herlihey, Derek O’Brien, Shane Kelly, Liam Henry, James Maher, Pat Murray, Barry Hartnett, Conor Fitzgerald, Darren Wallace, Steven Henry, Lee O’Donoghue, Kieran Hurley.

Galway: Jamie Kelly, Craig Burke, Colm Tummon, Sean O’Rourke, Paul Cummins, Tom Davey, Jamie Kehoe, Sam Lenihan, Tom Maloney, Kevin Cummins, Cian Morley, Alex Kenny, James Doyle.

Donegal 4-15 Christopher’s 1-7

Donegal booked their place into the final with an impressive victory over Christopher’s.  With Brian Donnelly and Derek Maguire firing on all cylinders, and Lee Carr, Sean Donnelly and Sean Hume making and taking the scores in the forward line, the northerners never looked in trouble.  Inside the first half Sean Donnelly netted a hat trick.

Although their back line was under almost constant pressure, Christopher’s kept at it.  Danny Kenneally set up a goal for TJ Stenson early in the game, however, it was a struggle throughout for the remainder.  Shane Dooey popped up for a handful of points, while James Horgan and Patrick Kerrigan did well.  For Donegal, Letterkenny man Sean Hume finished the game with a 1-4 tally, while Carr ended with five points.  Donegal will be optimistic heading into next Saturday’s final on the back of two

Donegal:  Pauric Miskell, Mark Canney, Paul McNulty, Neil McEneaney, Darren Doherty, Sean Doherty, Derek Maguire, Brian Donnelly, Jack O’Brien, Conor Brennan, Sean Donnelly, Lee Carr, Sean Hume. 

Christopher’s:  Mark Delaney, Martin Coppinger,  Paudie Kenneally, James Horgan, Denis Dempsey, Shane Dooey, Jack Lynch, Greg Henry, Paddy Manning, Coleman Kennedy, Patrick Kerrigan, Dan Kenneally, TJ Stenson. 
By Rory O'Donnell

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Pat O'Brien Cup - Second Round

Group B
Donegal 3-13 Wolfe Tones 2-7
Donegal kept Group B open with a win over Wolfe Tones in their first outing of the season.  The northerners took a while to get going, and once they did, pulled away in the last quarter of the game.
Mark Canny on the ball for Donegal.
Lee Carr was the playmaker for Donegal in the forward line.  The diminutive wing forward created openings for his teammates, and on occasion took the score himself.  Sean Hume and Sean Donnelly capitalized on the opportunities with four first half points between them, while Carr popped over two himself.  The Tones were still very much in the hunt with a Shane O’Rourke first half goal, while Gavin Walsh pointed twice from his corner forward berth.
The Tones netted early in the second half through Cormac Joyce-Power after a great Aaron Moore run made the opening for the big Limerick man.  Donegal kept picking off their points however.  Donnelly and Hume, along with some great play from Louthman, Derek Maguire, eventullay tipped the scales in Donegal’s favour.  Maguire and Donnelly netted to cancel out the Tones goals, and now a win, or a draw, for Donegal next week against Christopher’s, sees them into the final of the competition.
Donegal:  Pauric Miskell, Mark Canney, Paul McNulty, Neil McEneaney, Sean Tim, Derek Maguire, Brian Donnelly, Declam McBride, Darren Doherty, Sean Donnelly, Lee Carr, Sean Hamill, Sean Hume. 
Tones:  Shane Hayes, Fergal O’Brien, Darren McDonnell, Aaron Moore, Darren Maguire, Mike O’Brien, Gerry Troy, Jarlath Boyce, Joey Farrell, Cormac Joyce-Power, Shane O’Rourke, Garret Byrne, Gavin Walsh.

Group A
Aidan McAnespies 9-13 Galway 0-2
Aidan McAnespies made it 2 for 2 in the early season, and pretty much had the game out of reach for Galway before half time.  Goals were the order of the day for the Macs with Brian Breslin and Robbie Croft in the corners. 
Robbie Croft shoots between the posts for Aidan McAnespies.
Breslin had a hat trick before the break and Croft tallied 6 points, both from play and from dead balls.  Galway managed a couple of points from Kevin Cummins, however with Jimmy Rigney on top of his game at corner back and JP Gallagher likewise at center back, Galway never settled into the game.
The second half was more of the same, with Breslin ending the day with 5 goals to his name.  The result leaves McAnespies in pole position to reach the final with a win or a draw against the Gaels next week. 
Macs:  Paddy Coakley, Jimmy Rigney, Paul Clifford, Seamy Breslin, JP Gallagher, Tom Brereton, Marty Mongan, Niall Donahy, Ciaran Wallace, Eoin Delmer, Che O’Donnell, Brian Breslin, Robbie Croft.
Galway:  Jamie Kelly, Craig Burke, Colm Tummon, Tom Davey, Paul Cummins, Greg Lundy, Tom Walsh, Stewart Cullen, Peter Herlihy, Jamie Keogh, Kieran Gallagher, Kevin Cummins, Cian Marley.

Connemara Gaels 0-6 Shannon Blues 1-11
Shannon Blues looked impressive in their outing Saturday afternoon.  Kieran Hurley was instrumental in much of the good work from the Blues, and Glenfesk man, Lee O’Donoghue also impressed for the Blues.
Pat Moriarty tries to gather for the Blues.
After an opening 10 minutes which saw Coleman Mulkerrins and Kevin McGrath point for the Gaels, while Darren Wallace and Hurley put 3 over between them for the Blues, a three point spurt saw the Blues into the half with a four point lead.  Liam Henry and Hurley the scorers.
The Gaels closed the gap shortly after the break, McGrath with a lovely effort from a tight angle.  However, the Blues regained hold of the game, and Hurley was involved in each one of three unanswered points to restore the Blues lead.  With the Gaels goal under fierce attack a goal eventually come for Pat Murray late in the game to seal it for the Blues. 
Gaels:  Eoin Connolly, David Black, Niall McGinn, Damien Doolan, Niall Collins, Joe O’Shea, Ryan Caffrey, Tom Duggan, Sean Connolly, Coleman Mulkerrins, Ian Heanue, Kevin McGrath, Paddy McGee.
Blues:  Dara O’Shea, Fionn O’Herlihy, Derek O’Brien, Conor Kerins, Steven Henry, James Maher, Barry Hartnett, Pat Murray, Liam Henry, Darren Wallace, Conor Fitzgerald, Lee O’Donoghue, Kieran Hurley.
By Rory O'Donnell