Aidan McAnespies 0-13 Shannon Blues 0-18
It was a game in which a win would virtually guarantee a semi-final place, and it was the Blues who pulled it out in the end after a brilliant championship encounter. The game could have gone either way. It was looking like McAnespies who might be the team to take the points, as with less than 15 minutes to go and the Blues in a 2 point lead, McAnespies won a penalty. Robbie Croft’s shot came off the foot of the post, and with the let off, the momentum was then with the Blues for the last 10 minutes. The reigning Boston and North American champions took full advantage to seal the deal down the stretch.
|Darren Wallace with a tackle on Eric Finn.|
It was a hotly contested first half with McAnespies building the early lead. The Macs were on top of the Blues for the opening 20 minutes, from Eric Finn in the half back line, to Declan Hughes in midfield and Albert Martin at corner forward. Points from Robbie Croft, who started in goal and came out to take the free, Martin and Finn inched McAnespies ever further ahead.
The Blues looked to Glenflesk dynamo, Darragh Roche, in the corner to produce - and produce he did, with three points on the trot. The Blues pulled themselves back into the game. PJ Hand played it close to the edge at corner back, earning a yellow card, but keeping tabs on Albert Martin while Brian Fanning had his hands full with John Lafferty. Points from Connell Lemon, Roche, and the stylish St. Mary’s Caherciveen man, Paul O’Donoghue, saw the Blues on level terms at the break, with eight points a-piece.
|It was a real scramble for possession at times |
between the Macs and the Blues.
The teams could not separate over the first 15 minutes following the restart. Each McAnespies go-ahead point was answered by the Blues. Finn continued to work hard for McAnespies, and made a crucial interception at one end and assisting with a point at the other; the man from the Round Towers club in Dublin put in a great hour for McAnespies. The Blues were almost in for a goal, but with Darren Wallace’s eyes wide with the goal looming, Croft made a great tackle to deny the Tralee man and the Blues a goal. It was up and down stuff with each side looking to gain the edge as players were giving it everything.
The final quarter saw each team bring in players off the line. Eamonn Fyffe came on for McAnespies and for the Blues Brian Egan, each brought on to provide some extra punch in the forward line. The Blues defence tackled hard, but on one occasion a little too hard as John Lafferty was pulled down in the box and a penalty awarded. Croft left his goal to take it and after a slight hesitation in the run up, the shot came off the foot of the post and the Blues breathed a sigh of relief.
The Blues capitalized on the let-off and added a point to their lead from O’Donoghue, and with a few minutes left looked good to keep themselves in the championship. Roche added another point to make it a 2 score game and there was just not going to be enough time for McAnespies to come back. With one game left each, both against Galway, the Blues just need to win to be assured of a semi-final place. McAnespies will need to defeat Galway, and hope that the Tones can do them a favor against the Gaels to force a playoff for the fourth and final playoff spot.
Macs: Robbie Croft, Robert Piggott, Caolan Harvey, Eric Finn, Danny McBride, Eoin Delmer, Declan Hughes, Warner Mullen, Seamus Breslin, Che O’Donnell, Paul Clifford, John Lafferty, Albert Martin.
Blues: Mike Moriarty, PJ Hand, Brian Fanning, Derek O’Brien, Michael Cotterell, Dennis McElligottt, Jerry Troy, Maurice Young, Connell Lemon, Darren Wallace, Paul O’Donoghue, Darragh Roche, Stephen Cahill.By Rory O'Donnell