Monday, August 7, 2017

Sun Aug 6 - Senior Football Q/F: Aidan McAnespies v Connemara Gaels

Connemara Gaels 1-14 Aidan McAnespies 2-13 AET

The Gaels and McAnespies served up a tremendous game that was full of incident and excitement.  It could have gone either way as early in the second period of extra time the teams were still tied.  With victory in their grasp at the end of normal time, McAnespies saw a three point injury time lead slip away and the Gaels force extra time.  In the extra period, with players exhausted and battling severe fatigue and cramp, McAnespies got themselves over the line, the winning point a fantastic long range effort from Brian Breslin.

Sean Conneeley tries to slow down Mick Walsh.
It was an entertaining, hard fought opening 30 minutes.  Each team funneled back in defence and hit on the break.  At times all but Marty Mongan of the McAnespies team was in their own half, and the Gaels Tony Brosnan at times was the lone advanced player for the Gaels.  It was a case of covering the spaces and waiting for the mistake to win possession, then get down the field as fast as possible.

McAnespies opened with 2 points and the Gaels were soon level with a pointed long range free from goalkeeper, Sean Fox, and a point from Coleman Mulkerrins.  It was tit for tat with each side matching the other’s score as the ball changed hands frequently.  The Gaels were guilty of a good handful of misses, while mcAnespies got some good production from Che O’Donnell.  O’Donnell was busy in the McAnespies forward line and on hand to neatly pop over a couple of points.  At the half it was the Macs by a nose, 0-7 to 0-6.

Early in the second half a flare up ensued in which two yellow cards and a black were issued.  The Gaels’ Fergal Meenagh was issued the black card.  It was a hard hitting second half in which no quarter was given as each team felt that victory was within their grasp.  The teams were level on 3 occasions as the Gaels answered each McAnespies go ahead point.  Tony Brosnan started to look more comfortable with the free taking duties and popped over 3 on the trot.

Fergal McGeough finds the outlet pass.
With the scores at a premium coming into the final stretch, and nothing between the teams each score was huge.  After the Gaels forced a turnover from McAnespies Tony Brosnan won a free and put his own kick over the bar.  Danny McBride leveled with a well taken effort from 45 yards and with 3 minutes left it was all square again.   The winning of the game looked to have come from after a Gaels attack was cleared from inside the McAnespies small square, and a move involving Brian Breslin and Che O’Donnell ended with corner back Paul Clifford on his own with the keeper to beat, and the Sallins man placed the ball into the top corner.  The 60 minutes were played and the Gaels needed a goal now, but with a lot of second half stoppages it was far from over.

It seemed as though stopping a goal would be the key to victory for McAnespies, however, incredibly Gaels put three points over the bar to tie the game up deep into injury time, Ryan Caffrey hand-passing the tying score over the bar.  And so, it was 20 more minutes to decide who would advance.

The first period of extra time saw the Gaels strike with a Matt Sullivan goal after the assist from Tony Brosnan.  After Danny McBride pointed, Sean Fox was called up to make a fantastic double save from close range.  A goal would come for McAnespies however, and it was a trademark run from Brian Breslin who netted.  It was Macs by a point at the turnaround.

It was two exhausted teams that took the field for the final 10 minutes of play.  The second period of extra time saw the Gaels draw level from a Brosnan point, but it would be McAnespies who would go on the win it.  The winning score was a fantastic effort from Breslin from 45 yards as McAnespies help possession and the Lifford native took advantage of the opening when it came.  Danny McBride added a late free for insurance, and it is Aidan McAnespies going on to meet Donegal in next week’s semi-final.

Gaels:  Sean Fox, Sean Andy Kelly, David Black, Kieran Killeen, Sean Conneeley, Niall McGinn, Matt Sullivan, Fergal Meenagh, Cillian Fahy, Coleman Mulkerrins, Dan O’Donoghue, Tony Brosnan, Ryan Caffrey.  Subs: James Flaherty, Joe O’Shea.

Macs: Paddy Coakley, Tommy Brereton, Paul Clifford, Seamus Breslin, Rhys Quinn, Fergal McGeough, Brian Breslin, Dan McBride, Michael Walsh, Marty Mongan, Niall Rooney, Che O’Donnell, Robbie Croft.  Subs:  Jimmy Rigney, James McCusker.
By Rory O'Donnell

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