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

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