Shannon Blues 2-13 Donegal 0-8
Shannon Blues earned a place in the junior A football final with a well-earned win over Donegal on Saturday evening. Two early first half goals put some distance between the teams, a gap that mis-firing Donegal could not bridge. There were some great performances, Jack Goulding at corner forward did well, and when the Blues needed a lift Pat Murray and Conor Fitzgerald stepped up the plate with bursting runs forward late in the game. Shane Connaughton was a constant for the Blues in and around the middle of the field as they make the junior A final for the first time since 1999.
|Shannon Blues junior team - first final since 1999.|
Goulding rattled the Donegal net twice in the opening 15 minutes to give the Shannon Blues a great start to the game. The first goal game came from the left side with Goulding latching on the ball into his corner, cutting in, and hitting the far corner of the net. The north Kerry man showed that he could do it from either side as the second came in similar fashion, only from the right side. Donegal had erased the first goal with 3 points on the trot, and the second goal restored that advantage.
The Blues moved the ball well out of defence. Shane Connaughton, Pat Murray and Pat Moriarty combined well at times. Maurice Young was also on form, hitting the target from a long range free and then a point from play as the Blues forward line opened the spaces up. Donegal, on the other hand, never really got motoring up front. Ciaran McDevitt looked lively and set up a point each for Sean Hume and Ricky Gallagher, but nothing seemed to spark the Tir Chonaill men. The Blues back line tackled well to make life tough for their opposite numbers, however Donegal will have regretted a number of missed chances to close the gap. At the break it was the Blues by eight, 2-7 to 0-5.
|Donegal junior As came up just short in the semi-final.|
Donegal had plenty of possession in the early going after the restart and introduced Conor McCormack and Darren Grant to the fray to try and improve their return. McCormack pointed almost right away, and Neil McEneaney did well in the half back line to shut off supply to the Blues full forwards. The northerners continued to struggle though, and abandoned the running game in favour of the high ball to the edge of the box, but still to no avail.
The Blues nursed their lead over the first 15 minutes of the second half. Donegal brought the gap to 2 scores after Ronan McMenamin pointed, but the Blues restored their advantage with 2 frees from the boot of John Craig. The teams traded scores once more before the Blues added to their advantage. Some great running by Pat Murray, and good work in the corner by Goulding resulted in scores. When Conor Fitzgerald put a rousing point over the bar to make it a 10 point difference, the Blues supporters sensed that a place in the final was all but secure. And, so the Blues meet Cork in next week’s final.
Blues: Michael Moriarty, Shane Kelly, Derek O’Brien, John Craig, Stephen Conway, Conor Mullen, Pat Murray, Maurice Young, Conor Fitzgerald, Pat Moriarty, Shane Connaughton, Jack Goulding, Michael Ralston. Subs: James Feeney, Mike Keegan, Joe Hurley.
Donegal: Pauric Miskell, Paul McNulty, Declan McBride, KJ McGowan, Ronan McMenamin, Mark Canney, Neil McEnaeaney, Tom Caldwell, Conor Brosnan, Ronan Diver, Ciaran McDevitt, Ricky Gallagher, Sean Hume. Subs: Conor McCormack, Darren Grant, Gavin Riley, Michael McGinty, Mark Dorian.
By Rory O'Donnell