Connemara Gaels 4-11 Wolfe Tones 3-11
The Connemara Gaels secured their second win of the championship on the back of 4 goals, the last of which came from former Dublin U-21 Cian Murphy with less than 10 minutes left, and they needed it. Sitting on a handy lead that hovered between 7 and 8 points for most of the second period, the Gaels played the possession game. It almost came back to bite them as the Tones netted 2 late goals from Ronan Jones and Chris Sallier to put just the one in it and keep the Gaels bench and supporters on edge for the final few minutes.
David Larkin has to resort to extreme measures to stop
It was an entertaining opening 30 minutes. The Gaels had the big strike early with a Pauric McAnenly goal from the spot. Keelan Sexton was pulled down as he carried the ball into the Tones penalty box and the kick was low to the keeper’s left. The Tones had the advantage in the points column, 3 to 2. The Tones third score came after some great running and a finish by Chris Sallier. The Tones, however, kept up the pace and two more points followed from Sallier, one a free, and a third from Paul Clifford, again with the Tones running at the Gaels defence.
Then came a turn of events as the Gaels had a 2 on one, with Kevin O’Halloran and Sexton bearing down on goal, but slightly overdoing it, and the chance went amiss. Right away, the Tones came down the field and netted through Benny Carroll and were up by three points. The Gaels then went on a scoring rampage to end the half. It was started by a superb Ryan Caffrey point. Sexton, McAnenly and O’Halloran each contributed on the scoreboard, with Sexton accounting for 2 goals. Each came from the Clare man’s strength running on the ball and powerful finish. The Tones could not respond in kind, and at the break it was a 3-8 to 1-8 Gaels advantage.
The scoring rate slowed down for both sides in the second half, each side traded 2 points apiece and with 15 minutes left the Gaels 2 goals lead was still intact. The Tones scores came from Jones and Sallier, while for the Gaels it was Sexton with a free and Nathan O’Neill following a good O’Halloran run. The Tipperary man was a key player in the Gaels front 5 and strong in possession.
Number 8 Stand off between Ryan Caffrey
and Ronan Jones.
The Gaels held on to the ball and time ticked away on the Tones, however the end would not be as relaxing as the westerners would have liked. After Paschal Connell reduced the gap to 5 points, Murphy made the burst through the middle and the Dubliner’s goal appeared to be the icing on the cake. The Tones were not as accepting of their fate as the Gaels may have hoped. A goal came from Ronan Jones, and as the Gaels continued to pass the ball around the half back line the directness of the Tones led to another goal after possession had changed. This time it was Sallier with the finish, and there was just the goal in it. By that stage the game was in injury time and the Gaels held on to the ball for the final few minutes to see out the clock - much to the relief of their management and supporters.
Gaels: Sean Fox, David Larkin, Niall Collins, Kieran Killeen, Colm Shaughnessy, Cian Murphy, Nathan Donnelly, Ryan Caffrey, Sean Connelley, Kevin O’Halloran, Nathan O’Neil, Keelan Sexton, Pauric McAnenly.
Tones: Shane Hayes, Diarmaid Bennett, Darren Lawler, Sean Egan, Jack Lynch, Paul Clifford, Ronan Jones, Paschal Connell, Daragh Kennedy, Jack Kennedy, Benny Carroll, Thomas Beckett, Chris Sallier.By Rory O'Donnell