Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Boston GAA Finals - Donegal Make it 3 in a Row, Galway Pull Off a Shocker

Ladies Football Final

Room must be running out in the Boston Shamrocks trophy cabinet after another victory in the ladies football championship.  The Shamrocks came up against the youthful Sean Og’s Ladies team, a team of home grown players who have just come up from underage ranks to play at adult level.  The Shamrock’s experience and strength was too much for the Sean Og’s to handle, but to their credit the youngsters never let up with their efforts and often had the Shamrocks goal under pressure, but the finishing touch failed them on many occasions.

Sarah Jane McDonald and Marie Kelly were to the forefront of the Shamrock’s efforts and when play went through those players the end result was usually a score for the champions.  Two early goals put the Shamrocks in the driver’s seat.  The Sean Og’s girls moved the ball well themselves on occasion, and were in with goal chances themselves, but Kayla Donovan was solid in goals for the Shamrocks and saved several would – be goals.  There were some points, Orla Gormley and Aisling Kelly got on the scoresheet, but a flurry of scores before half time for the Shamrocks put the outcome beyond doubt.

The second half opened with a goal from Eva Gannon for the youngsters, but Shannon Kelly took the breeze out of Sean Og’s sails after the got it back soon afterwards.  The Shamrocks brought on many campaign veterans, AnnMarie McDonnell, Stacy Fuller and Cathy McEleaney all came on and saw out the game.  A tough first final for the Sean Og’s girls, but for them it is just the beginning of what hopefully will be the beginning of successful football careers.  Shamrocks 8-11 Sean Og’s 1-6  

Men’s Intermediate Football Final

Aidan McAnespies won the Intermediate football final with a 3-9 to 1-5 against the Shannon Blues.  The Blues came out full of intent and were only 4 points adrift at the break, however, as the second half wore on McAnespies pulled away with 2 goals and flurry of points to finish the game.

An early Eoin Gormley goal after the throw-in had the Blues on their heels from the get go.  The Blues had a couple of goal chances of their own, but Paddy Coakley was sharp to the danger and managed to keep the ball from crossing the line.  Darren Wallace and Maurice Young pointed for the Blues to get them off the mark, however, the Macs finished the half with 3 unanswered points to hold a 1-3 to 0-2 lead in a fairly low scoring opening period.

The game was taken by the scruff of the neck by the Macs in the second half.  After the sides traded points, a Gormley point was followed by a super one from Peter O’Connell, and a Steven Ward goal.  An O’Connell run made the opening for Ward to net.  The Blues won a penalty after Wallace was pulled down in the box, and Young blasted the kick home to cut the gap to 6 points.

The final quarter saw McAnespies push for the finish line, Conan McCusker bagged a goal following a well worked move, and points from Colm O’Malley and O’Connell put the finishing touches on the win.  The Blues will look back at several missed chances that could have kept their opponents within reach, but it has to be said that the club deserves huge credit for fielding a team, one that contained a healthy dose of home grown talent, in the top level football competition this season.    McAnespies play in the USGAA intermediate competition next Saturday where they will meet the Pittsburgh Celtics.  It will not be the first time the clubs have met, Pittsburgh and Macs played in the junior B competition in San Francisco in 2011, and game that Pittsburgh won.  Since then the Midwestern side have risen through the ranks to Intermediate level.

Senior Hurling Final

Galway hurlers pulled off the major shock of the weekend with a totally unexpected win against Fr. Tom Burke’s.   Tom’s would have been considered de facto champions going into the game because of the manner in which they were pretty much unchallenged in any game all season.  Galway saved their best performance till the final day, however, and after a tremendously exciting 60 minutes came out at the other end 2 point winners.

Galway came out on fire.  A combination of John’s, John Coleman and John Moylan, made things happen at the scoring end of the field.  Molylan had tallied 2 goals.  The first followed a great effort by corner forward JJ Doyle keeping the ball in play for Moylan to finish from close range.  The second was a high ball into the box that came off the fingertips of Tom’s keeper, Kevin Flynn, and into the back of the net.  Coleman was on the mark with the frees for Galway, and for Tom’s it was Fergus Byrne who was the danger man early.  Byrne tallied Tom’s first 3 points before further scores were added by Fran Keenan, Aaron Moore, Liam Moore and Jason Costello.  At the break Galway led by the 2 goals, 2-7 to 0-7.  The question was did they have enough of a lead to hold for the second half.

The short answer was yes, but it looked very doubtful coming to the run in to the final whistle.  The game continued at a blistering pace and players on both sides stepped up to try and make the difference.  Tom’s had it all square within 8 minutes after the restart.  A Liam Moore goal and points from Aaron Moore and Byrne before Galway managed a score had it looking like the tipping point was coming in Tom’s favor.  It did not happen.  Danny Burke, Patrick Moylan and Mike Moylan stepped it up at the back for Galway, and wily veteran going back to the Dilboy days, James Kinsella, won several balls.   The teams swapped 3 points each as the game hung in the balance.  It was Byrne for Tom’s, and for Galway John Moylan, Coleman and Eoin Morrissey kept Galway at parity.

Into the last 10 minutes and after John Moylan put Galway a point to the good, Costello finally broke from his marker to fire the ball home to the far corner of the net and put Tom’s 2 to the good.  Galway did not die, though and kept up their tenacious play.  Darragh Lawler and Eoin Morrissey won some fantastic ball in the air, and helped drive Galway forward.  The final 4 scores went to Galway.  Moylan got the tying point from play and Coleman held his nerve with the go ahead free, and added one other from playas Tom’s could not find the answer late in the game.  Final score, Galway 2-16 Fr. Tom’s 2-14.  It was a win for Galway over old rivals, Tom’s but it was also a win for hurling such was the passion with which the game was played, and for the home grown players in town.  Mike and Patrick Moylan, Aidan O’Malley, Eoin Morrissey, Liam Moore and Jack Martyn banging with the best of them out there was great to see.  A great game and one that hurling in the town needed for sure.

Men’s Senior Football Final

There was a lot of expectation that the senior football final would be one for the ages.  Although Donegal went the season unbeaten, and were going for 3 in a row, the Gaels had come close to getting one over on them in their earlier season encounters, and fancied their chances.  In the end the game went to the wire with no more than a score in it though the final 5 minutes, and it was Donegal who had the extra legs to see it through to a 4 point win.

The teams traded points to get things going and a goal chance for the Gaels ended with Hugh Boyle saving from Paddy Cunningham.  After Mikey Kerr put the Gaels one to the good in the early stages, Donegal hit with a goal from Shane Carthy.  The Gaels responded well with Sean Conneeley and AJ Maguire points to level it up again, and just as the westerners started to feel encouraged Donegal went 4 ahead.  Darren Grant took a massive mark inside the 14 and pointed from the kick, and Carthy again hit with a major and a fine finish.   The half ended with Caffrey and Niall Egan points, and a difference of 4 points.  Donegal 2-3 to 0-5 for the Gaels.  There were some testy moments with yellow cards issued to Kieran Killeen and Sean Winston from each side.

The second half opened with Donegal maintaining the distance between the teams.  Enjoying the better of the midfield and ball possession battle, the northerners looked to be the team in control.  The lead was extended to 5 with Carthy getting the odd score of 5 10 minutes into the second period.  The Gaels battled well and Jack Bambrick established his presence in the game.  Bambrick pointed twice, and 2 Ryan Caffrey frees made it a one point game entering the final phase.  Enter Lee Carr and his left foot, who had been quiet thus far, and back to back points from the corner forward opened the gap to 3.  Another Caffrey free got it back to 2, and a goal was on the minds of the Connemara men.  Donegal’s defence was stout, however.  Sean Conneeley had a half chance from inside the 14 that was blocked, and Sean Winston scored an excellent point at a critical time to put a goal in it again.  Into injury time Caffrey pointed for the Gaels to restore some hope and possession was key now.  Donegal were the side to win the all-important kickout.  Who else but Shane Carthy carried the team to victory with 2 points in the added minutes.  With 4 points in it, and well into injury time, it was all but over in spite of a last gasp effort to get a high ball into the net.  Three in a row for Donegal senior footballers who showed to be the best team in town this season.

A great game of football to finish out the first season with all home based or home grown players in the Boston-Northeast division.  It was season that saw old faces return to the games, and as importantly if not more, the home grown player’s contribution to the championships showed what the future looks like.  As chair of the divisional board, Peter Murray, noted, there are 24 adult clubs and this year 90 games on the schedule, and would not have been possible without the young American born players.  Continuing to nurture the talent coming through the youth pipeline from 6 and 7 year olds, to 15 and 16 year olds, and providing the opportunities for the players, shows that a bright future to be grasped for Gaelic games in the region.

On to the USGAA Finals next weekend at the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton.

Boston Championship Winners

Senior Football:  Donegal

Senior Hurling:  Galway

Ladies Football: Boston Shamrocks

Intermediate Football:  Aidan McAnespies

Junior A Football:  Wolfe Tones

Junior B Football:  Sean Og’s

Junior B Hurling: Sean Og’s

Junior C Football:  Hartford

Junior C Hurling:  Providence

By Rory O’Donnell

Boston Northeast Finals - A Day for The Blues as Hartford, Sean Og's and Wolfe Tones win Saturday Finals

 Junior A Football Final

Wolfe Tones captured the Junior A Football championship title following an entertaining encounter with Galway.  It was an uncertain beginning to the season for the Wolfe Tones, but once the ball got rolling this season the men in sky blue and navy played some efficient football, even while dealing with several injuries to a tight squad of players. The game was in the balance all the way into injury time when a Shane O’Brien goal secured the victory.  O’Brien, who had come on as a sub late in the game, was found by a great cross field ball by Michael Kerr, and the man from Inch Beach, County Kerry, fisted home from the edge of the box.

The first half was closely contested with the sides trading points in the early going.  Cormac Joyce-Power flighted some lovely balls over the bar, and for Galway JJ Doyle made the most of any room he found and tallied some nice scores.  Towards the end of the half the Tones opened a gap with unanswered points from Gavin Walsh, Thomas Beckett, and Dan McCabe.

The gap grew wider following the restart as Joyce-Power, Marty Farrell, and Beckett pointed early.  Answers came from Doyle and John Moylan before a penalty was awarded to Galway after Doyle was pulled down in the box.  Kevin Cummins finished on the second bite after Shane Hayes had stopped the initial kick.  Only 2 points in it.  Walsh then netted for the Tones with a deflected shot from 21 yards, but Galway immediately recouped the score with a Doyle goal following a sweeping move downfield after the kickout. 

The Tones made it a 3 point game heading into the last few minutes with a Beckett point.  Galway’s efforts to move the ball downfield were well read by Tones defenders, Paudie Kenneally being particularly effective in that regard.  The deal was sealed with Inchy’s goal and the Tones were celebrating a championship trophy with a final score of 2-15 to 2-9.

Sean Og’s 2-13 Donegal 2-8

Sean Og’s completed a double with a convincing win over Donegal in the junior B football final.  The players who came up through the youth programs showed that they have learned their lessons over the years, and applied them well.   

The first half was well contested, with the difference maker being an Eoin Gormley goal.  Points from Steven Ward and Ashley Carr capped off the half to make it a 1-6 to 0-7 Sean Og’s lead.

The second half saw a flurry of unanswered points from Sean Og’s put the youngsters into a healthy lead.  Gormley, Declan O’Sullivan, Mike Moylan and another excellently taken O’Sullivan free opened the lead to 6 points.  Sean Og’s defence handled anything Donegal threw at them, until a Carr point saw the northerners get off the mark.  Gormley, however, was busy at corner forward and looked dangerous when the ball came in to him, and set up Ward for a second Sean Og’s goal.  One that would surely see them through.

The final stages of the game were a little shaky for Sean Og’s as Donegal hit with 2 late goals to try and make an unlikely late comeback.  Brian Kelly was involved in both, first palming home a Christy McLaughlin cross, and then winning a forward mark, and Ashley Carr ending up putting the ball into the net.  The gap was too wide to bridge, however, and Sean Og’s celebrated a deserved Junior B football title, to go with the junior B Hurling that was won last weekend.

In his speech following the win the Sean Og’s captain, Patrick Moylan, noted that the club is named in memory of Sean Farrell, son of John and Bridget Farrell and that it was a privilege to play for a club that means more than just football.

The junior C football championship was won by Hartford in a tightly contested final.   An early goal put Hartford in the driver’s seat, but by the half time break Portland had returned the favor and there was a slim 2 point lead for the Connecticut men, 1-5 to 1-3.

Hartford doubled that lead after the break, tagging 3 points to one for Portland, but heading into the final quarter the game was still very much in the balance.  Portland were unable to eat into the gap and at the final whistle, amid scenes of delight from the Hartford supporters, it was a 1-10 to 1-6 Hartford victory.

By Rory O’Donnell

Thursday, August 12, 2021

2 Hurling Championship Deciders and Finals Places Decided

On a glorious Saturday afternoon at the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton, Mass the first championship titles were decided.  There were 2 firsts, Providence and Sean Og’s each won their first hurling championships, defeating Hartford and Worcester to capture the Junior C and Junior B championship titles.

For Providence the win was 6 years in the making.  The club was started in 2015 and up until this season had never even contested a final.  This season the Rhode Island Club took some serious strides with their only defeat of the season to their final opponents, Hartford.  The game was a close run affair with Providence just about holding their opponents at bay.  At the scoring end it required 4 goals, one in each half from James Glendenning and 2 in the second from Brendan McGinn to secure the win.  However, it was goalkeeper, Mike Baressi, who won the man of the match for his performance between the posts for Providence.  Baressi, along with 3 other starters in the team, is a first year player who only took up the sport this season and has taken to the game like a fish to water.

Club Chairperson, Mike Kenneally, talked about the numbers coming to training during the season.  Also, Mike credited Cathal Hardiman, a Galwayman who found himself in Providence and joined the club, with raising the bar for everyone, and the players responded.  As for their first championship, “It is still sinking in”, said Mike.  “No words can describe what it means for the club.”  Best of luck to Providence in the USGAA finals.  Although there will be 3 starting players missed due to injury the Providence club are sure to give it a go.

Providence:  Michael Barressi, Conor O’Rourke, Mike Kenneally, John Feeney, Matthew Parks, James Crocker, Austin Clark, Nick Bruz, Adrian Conley, Jack Douglass, Jack Condon, James Glendenning, Brendan McGinn;

John "Boxcar" O'Driscoll Gives the Final
Talk to Sean Og's.  (Photo Rachel O'Driscoll).

In another first, Sean Og’s hurlers took their first piece of silverware.  It was a huge victory for the youngsters who have come through the underage ranks over the last 10-12 years to defeat the reigning USGAA Junior B Hurling title holders, Worcester Fenians.  Sean Og’s were formed in 2019 with the aim of providing a team for young home grown players to transition to adult competition.  For many years this step has proven to be a roadblock to the development of American footballers and hurlers.

The first half belonged to the reigning champions from Worcester who held a 1-8 to 0-6 half time lead.   Sean Og’s turned it around in the second half.  The teams were all square coming into the final 10 minutes with Worcester on 2-8 and Sean Og’s 1-11.  With the reigning holders fighting hard to retain the title, the young American’s came through with some great scores down the stretch to take the win, Mike Moylan tallying 3 of the final six points, and Aidan O’Malley 2.  It is another milestone on what is proving to be a season of transition to the home grown players coming through the ranks and the future of the games in the states.

Said manager John O’Driscoll, “It was important, with nothing last year and the lads getting older.  Lads are filling the void for a lot of teams this year and are getting more games which brings them along a lot more.”  O’Driscoll also noted that this year many clubs are relying on the home grown players who have come through the age groups.  It is certain that this season will stand to these kids and set them up for future games.

The Sean Og’s Junior B footballers also have a chance to take some silverware we they will face defending champions, Donegal, in the final this weekend, and the ladies footballers meet the Boston Shamrocks.

Sean Og’s:  Aidan Joyce, Peter Bannon, Mikey Kerr, Eoin Faherty, Patrick Moylan, John O’Riordan, Jack Martyn, Aidan O’Malley, Dylan Coyne, Dan Murphy, Eoin Morissey, Mike Moylan, John O’Doherty; Jack Kelly, Stephen Joyce, Colm O’Malley, Niall O’Malley, Matty Duane, Brendan Smith, Aidan Flanagan.


Happy Faces:  James Flaherty and Ryan Caffrey .
(Photo by Rachel O'Driscoll)

The senior football semi-final also provide to be an hour of excitement as Aidan McAnespies surprisingly pulled ahead of the favoured Connemara Gaels in the first half, and caused some worried looks on the Connemara supporters side of the field.   With the Gaels 1-3 to 0-2 ahead thanks to an early goal from Paddy Cunningham, McAnespies hit with 3 goals in quick succession to stun the crowd.  A Stephen Ward goal, followed by points from Eoin Morissey and Robert Croft.  Croft then struck a penalty home after Eoin Gormley was pulled down in the box, and netted McAnespies third came thanks to a brilliant finish from Croft to the far side of the net.

The Gaels gathered themselves, however, and finished the half with points from Jack Bambrick and Cunningham, and a late Cunningham goal left the score at 3-5 to 2-5 in the Macs favor to start the second half.  The second period saw the Gaels pull away, their dominance underlined by a superb finish from Michael Kerr.  Kerr started a run from his own 14 yard line down the right side and was last to receive the ball on the opposite 14, and from a somewhat tight angle crashed the ball into the roof of the net.  Sean Conneeley added another goal from the spot after Kerr was pulled down, and things seemed done and dusted.  With the Gaels sitting on a 9 point cushion and McAnespies with just the one point to account for their second half efforts, the game suddenly tightened up again.  Croft banged home a late penalty, which was followed by a crafty James Rigney goal.  Three point game now and Macs had one last chance at the death, but the final ball into the Gaels box sailed over the endline.  A scare for Gaels heading into the final next Sunday at 5:00, while McAnespies will meet the Shannon Blues in the Intermediate final at 1:00.

Finals Schedule

Saturday August 14

1:30 Junior C Football Final:  Portland v Hartford

3:30 Junior B Football Final:  Donegal v Sean Og’s

5:30 Junior A Football Final:  Wolfe Tones v Galway

Sunday August 15

12:00 Ladies Senior Football Final;  Boston Shamrocks v Sean Og’s

1:00 Intermediate Football Final:  Aidan McAnespies v Shannon Blues

3:00 Senior Hurling Final:  Fr. Tom Burke’s v Galway

5:00 Senior Football Final:  Donegal v Connemara Gaels

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Playoffs Still to be Decided as Gaels and Donegal Serve Up a Cracker

Donegal and the Connemara Gaels served up the best game of the season so far in front a good crowd of supporters.  It was an exciting contest that ended all square thanks to a goal in the final minutes from Mikey Kerr for the Gaels.  The result leaves a slim opening for the Gaels to get the bye into the senior football final should Aidan McAnespies defeat Donegal in the final game of the league portion on Wednesday night.

Paddy McGee Fires Home for the Gaels
Late in the First half.

There was not much between the teams all game long.  The Gaels relied on the running of Jack Bambrick and Colman Mulkerrin at times, each player produced some wonderful points.  Donegal played well through the lines and a goal from Darren Grant in the first half gave the northerers a slight edge.  Lee Carr was lively up front and tagged a couple of good points.   Tom Duignan suffered a game ending injury after a foray forward, twisting his knee, which was a blow to the Gaels efforts.   A goal late in the half from Paddy McGee meant that it was a 1-6 to 1-5 Donegal lead at the break.

The second half saw Donegal edge in to a 3 point lead, with Ryan Caffrey frees keeping the Gaels in touch.  It started to look like Donegal were wrapping up another win with Shane Carthy providing the scores when needed.  The Gaels made a big push towards the end, and were rewarded with the goal from Kerr who latched on to a rebound and put the ball into the far bottom corner.   A fair result in the end that keeps the door slightly open for the Gaels to get the bye into the final.

Sean Kelly Showed some Flashes of old Form
with a couple of great scores on Sunday.

Wolfe Tones added another win in the junior A football championship to finish top and make the final.  The Tones held Galway scoreless in the first half, while at the other end got some great scores from Sean Kelly, and steady free taking of Gavin Walsh added 3 more points.  The missed opportunities were adding up for Galway, and just before the break Walsh netted to put the Tones into a 1-5 lead. 

Enter JJ Doyle in the second half for Galway and the wily veteran’s shooting from frees and play chipped away at the Tones lead until there was just the goal in it 10 minutes into the second half.  Galway and Doyle were unable to keep up the momentum, the water break may not have done them any favours as the Tones retook the field with renewed purpose and netted a second goal from Dan Kenneally to take the wind out of the westerner’s sails.  The Tones nursed the 2 goal cushion and ended up 2-9 to 0-7 winners.  The win puts the Tones straight into the final awaiting the winners of Cork and Galway next weekend. 

McAnespie's Peter O'Connell Drives Forward.

Aidan McAnespies had a comfortable win against the Shannon Blues, netting two penalty kicks in the first half.  The first was for a foot block and Robbie Croft slotted home to the keeper’s right.  The second soon after came after Eoin Gormley was held in the box after being played though by a superb Peter O’Connell pass.  Croft stepped up and the put this one to the left of the keeper.  The Blues battled gamely and were rewarded with points from Darren Wallace, Maurice Young and Mike Moylan, but McAnespies were just too strong.  The second half saw another 2 goals for the Macs who will now play a Wednesday night game against Donegal to round out the league portion of the competition.

The Junior B Football championship ended with a playoff required between Kerry and the Connemara Gaels.  Christopher’s defeated the Gaels in a close run affair.  The Gaels led by 9 points to 2 at the break but Christopher’s stormed back with a 4 goal second half and ended up 4 point victors to secure a semi-final place against Sean Og’s next week.  The winners of Kerry and the Gaels will meet Donegal in the other semi-final on Saturday.

Mark Delaney Rises High for Christopher's.

Junior B Hurling sees Worcester into the final after defeating the Wolves of New Hampshire on Saturday in Canton.  Portland Junior C Footballers went 4 for 4 with a win over Sean Og’s Sunday and have the automatic place in the final. 

Some teams to be decided for next weekend’s games, the schedule is at and will be updated as soon as the results are in.

By Rory O'Donnell

Photos by Rachel O'Driscoll

Rachel Marie Creative