Sunday, May 13, 2018

Donegal and McAnespies into the Pat O’Brien Cup Final

By Rory O’Donnell 
Donegal and McAnespies into the Pat O’Brien Cup Final

Shannon Blues 2-7 Aidan McAnespies 3-10

A win for Aidan McAnespies put them on top of Group B and into the final of the cup next Saturday.  It was an explosive affair, and the wet conditions did not help matters in that regard.  There was plenty of good football on display from both sides, however, it was McAnespies who produced the goods when there was a point in it coming into the last 10 minutes.

The first half was dominated by the Macs and two early goals put them in the driver’s seat.  Phil McCusker and a Robbie Croft penalty was the difference between the teams about half way through the opening period.  Although the Blues had their chance from the spot early on, they struggled to get any kind of momentum going as McAnespies dominated midfield and held the half back line.  Derek O”Brien was busy in the Blues full back line marshalling Che O’Donnell, however, eventually O’Donnell got an opening and netted a third goal for McAnespies to put them 3 -2 to 0-2 ahead with half time approaching.  The Blues got a second chance for a penalty after James Feeney was fouled in the penalty area, and this time the spot kick bustled the back of the net. 

The teams started the second half down a player each following sendings off at the end of the first half, and the Blues went on a run to reduce the deficit.  A seven point gap was bridged following unanswered scores from David Wallace (Goal) and a series of points from Maurice Young and Denis McElligott.  The Blues had the momentum, and a grandstand finish looked to be on the cards but things degenerated into a series of scuffles and rucks.  The result was 2 additional players off from each side, and by the time the teams for the following game appeared from the changing rooms, it was a 10-a-side affair on the field.  Robbie Croft was on fire in the final stretch with 6 points in a row from play and frees, one was an excellent strike from the sideline.  Cup holders, McAnespies end up with 2 wins in the group and will play Saturday next in the final in defence of the title.

Donegal 2-5 Wolfe Tones 1-8 

Donegal made it to next week’s final with a surprising draw against the Wolfe Tones.  The result meant that Donegal ended Group A with 4 points to 3 for the Tones.  Tones never got going in the forward line as Donegal kept it tight at the back and allowed hardly any space to their opponents.  With the conditions not conducive to handling or speed the Tones huffed and puffed, but never got to blow Donegal’s house down as they did the Gaels last week.  Christy McLaughlin hit with a goal in each half, and Gavin Riley also popped over several scores to aid Donegal’s effort.

At the break it was a Donegal lead, 1-3 to 0-4.  The Tones started the game a man short, and eventually Shane O’Brien arrived to even up the sides.   Sean Donnelly and Ronan Diver added points to the Donegal column, while for the Tones it was Gavin Walsh, Dean Curran and Thomas Beckett.  The second half saw a dogged Donegal keep the Tones forward line at bay.  Conor Brennan and Michael McBride dug in hard, and with numbers back for Donegal the frustration was evident with their opponents as there were no openings going forward.  Lateral balls ended up going nowhere, and Donegal then took advantage of their chances after possession was turned over.  McLaughlin netted his second with a great run along the endline, firing the ball into the far corner.  Riley added two points and there was a surprise on the cards.  Eventually the Tones made the breakthrough as they trailed by four points.  Cormac Joyce-Power literally had to power his way past the Donegal defenders to get some space to fire home.  Another point evened up the scores, but there would not be another chance for a winner, and with the draw it is Donegal who face Aidan McAnespies in the final next week.

Next Saturday there is a hurling blitz at the ICC and the Pat O’Brien Cup Final.  Times are TBD.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Pat O'Brien Cup - Second Round

By Rory O'Donnell
The second round of the Pat O’Brien Cup was played at the Irish Cultural Center, Canton Mass Saturday afternoon with strong wins for Donegal and Wolfe Tones in Group A, and for Aidan McAnespies in Group B.   The situation means that it boils down to Donegal and the Tones looking for the win to secure the top spot in Group A, and in Group B it comes down to the Macs and Blues next week to see who makes the final.

Galway v Donegal

Galway got the better of this exchange on Saturday afternoon.
For Galway it was their first outing of the season and the westerners never really had a chance to settle into the game.  Donegal held a 7 point lead at the half, a goal from Sean Donnelly early on set the tone.  Donnelly and Lee Carr proved hard for the Galway defence to contain, and in the middle of the field Darren Grant was a towering presence.  Galway’s scores came from Frank McCormack, Ryan Garry and Kieran Gallagher.  Donegal maintained their hold on the game throughout the second half, and have three points from their 2games, sitting on top of the table.

Wolfe Tones v Connemara Gaels

Connollaidh Deeney Slips through a Gaels challenge.
In the other group A game the Wolfe Tones put in a very strong looking performance and left the Gaels shaking their heads at the final whistle.  Corner forwards, Dean Curran and Thomas Beckett ledd the Gaels corner backs a merry dance, while Ronan Jones in the middle of the field and Connolaoidh Deeney at center back, the Tones gave little away.  Two early goals rocked the Gaels, Curran and Cormac Joyce-Power netted.  The Gaels found a glimpse of rhythm with three points on the trot and it looked as though there could be a game on the cards.  Another Tones goal from Curran restored the Tones lead, and at the break it was a 3-4 to 0-5 score in the Tones favour.

The second half saw the Tones run away with it.  Eoin Connolly made some point blank saves from the rampant Tones forwards, but with points from Beckett and Joyce-Powerthe distance between the teams grew.  Curran netted another goal mid-way through the half shortly after Connolly had denied the Derry man.  Joe O’Shea put a consolation goal away for the Gaels, and at the back David Black toiled hard in the face of a constant pressure.  Shane O’Brien even chipped in with a point after entering the fray, as did brother Mike, and Jones capped of the goals to round off a good outing for the South Boston men.

Cork v Aidan McAnespies

Seamus Loftus on the ball for Cork.
Aidan McAnespies more or less steamrolled over Cork.  It was the first outing of the season for the Macs, and in many ways saw a second generation of players don the jersey.  Caolan Harvey featured from the start in the half back line, and Owen Gormley entered the fray in the second half.  The first half saw a deluge of goals as Robbie Croft, Paul Clifford, and Oisin McNulty combined well.  Croft was in good form on the first outing of the season, as was JP Gallagher and Philly McCusker.  The scores kept on coming for McAnespies, and late in the game the young Gormley netted twice, and Colm O’Malley also got his name on the scoresheet.  It boils down to the Macs and the Blues next week for a place in the final.

Pat O’Brien Cup Schedule

3:00 Connemara Gaels v Galway

4:15 Shannon Blues v Aidan McAnespies

5:30 Wolfe Tones v Donegal

All American Teams

Boston Northeast All American Football Team
A football and a hurling team from the Boston Northeast division traveled to New York to play a part in the Connacht Championship weekend.  The teams played New York Development Squad teams.  New York won both games, but the Boston players put up a good fight.  It was a great development to see teams made up entirely of American Born players representing the division.

Hurling:  Mike Kennelly, Michael Walsh, David O’Connor, Matthew Parks (Providence), Adam Mackie, Chris Laggis, Eric Stassen, Andrew Collins (Hartford), Dan Flanagan, Patrick Adukoni (Portland) Will Mullen, Alec Foley (Concord), Matt Dufresne, Bill Sheehan, Tim  Jackson, Jeremy Goldkuhl (Worcester), Jack Martin, Liam Moore (Fr. Tom Burke’s), Kevin Joyce (Wexford). 

Football:  Stephen Murray, Kevin Walsh, A.J. Maguire (Connemara Gaels), Declan Harrington, Jack Lynch, Denis Harrington, Emmet Smith (Cork), Shane McKenna, Oisin McNulty (Aidan McAnespies), Paudie Kenneally, Dan Kenneally, Jerry Kenneally (Christopher’s), Mark Dunphy, Ciaran McDevitt (Donegal), Maurice Young, Pat Murray, Conor Fitzgerald, Pat Moriarty (Shannon Blues), Ger Davoran, Michael Moylan (ISYL).