Sunday, May 22, 2022

Pat O'Brien Cup Final: McAnespie's strike early to take the cup

Champions:  A Great Start to 2022 for Aidan McAnespies

Aidan McAnespies captured the 2022 Pat O’Brien Cup in fairly convincing fashion over the challenge of the Connemara Gaels on an unseasonably hot Saturday evening.  The game was pretty much decided by the time the whistle went for the half time break, though in the second half, had the Gaels snatched an early goal from the chances they had, the run in to full time may have held a little more excitement.  Three first half goals sealed the deal for the Macs, and a much improved second half from the Gaels was not going to be enough to turn the tables.   

Eoin Gormley at corner forward was the early story for McAnespies.  The local youngster had the Gaels defence twisted in knots for much of the first half.  The direct ball in to the full forward line paid enormous dividends for the McAnespies with Gormley well able to win it and create problems.  The first goal came from a lovely long ball from Peter O’Connell to Gormley who found the incoming Tiernan Saul to finish into the net from 14 yards.  Gormley netted the second himself as the Gaels back line was opened up again soon afterwards.

A third goal followed from the boot of Niall Murphy after a lung busting run down the middle by wing back Cian Sharkey, who had an excellent overall first half.  It could have been 4 after Robbie Croft was taken down in the box.  Croft’s placed shot came off the crossbar, however, and it saved the Gaels from a complete shellacking.  The Gaels managed 3 first half points from Mikey Kerr, Jack Keady and Mark McKenzie, and missed a handful of decent chances, but struggled to find any traction going forward as the McAnespie’s back line had all avenues forward well covered.  O’Connell swung over a fantastic point from distance to underline the McAnespies dominance in the opening period, and with a 10 point lead heading into the second half the game appeared all but over.

Connemara Gaels: Early Blows Hurt the Gaels Challenge

The Gaels made a much better fist of it in the second half but could not put a dent in the gap on the scoreboard.  There were a couple of goal chances early, Rory McIlroy saved the first well and the second went into the side netting from an angle.  The Gaels enjoyed most of the possession and points went over from McKenzie, Colman Mulkerrin, Ryan Caffrey, Keady, Bradley Fox and Ger Davoran.   McAnespies, however, responded in kind each time, one from O’Connell was another fantastic strike from out on the wing, and the lead remained largely intact.  Conan McCusker and Croft rounded off the scoring as the Gaels continued to rue some missed late opportunities.  Final score Aidan McAnespies 3-10 Connemara Gaels 0-9.  Next up - championship action begins the weekend of June 5.

Scorers – Macs: Robbie Croft (0-2), Peter O’Connell (0-4), Tiernan Saul (1-2), Eoin Gormley (1-1), Niall Murphy (1-0) Conan McCusker (0-1) Gaels:  Mikey Kerr (0-1), Jack Keady (0-2), Mark McKenzie (0-1), Colman Mulkerrin (0-1), Ryan Caffrey (0-1), Dylan Murtagh (0-1), Bradley Fox (0-1), Ger Davoran (0-1).

By Rory O’Donnell

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Macs, Gaels into Pat O'Brien Cup Final; Worcester win Junior B Hurling Opener

The 2022 Pat O’Brien Cup final will be contested between the Connemara Gaels and Aidan McAnespies next Saturday, May 21.  There will be a new name of the cup as last season’s post-COVID revival saw two Donegal teams play the final, but this year the holders fell at the semi-final to the Macs.  The Connemara Gaels left it a bit later to see off the Wolfe Tones/Christopher’s challenge but pulled away with a convincing win in the end.

Tiernan Saul - Aidan McAnespies

McAnespies held an eight-point lead by the break of the second semi-final.  With a healthy looking 1-7 to 0-2 lead at the break for McAnespies it was going to take a big turnaround from Donegal to turn the tide.  The Donegal men were without the engine of Shane Carthy on the field however, and it looked like it was going to be a tall order to get back into it.  After some nicely clipped Robbie Croft points a Tiernan Saul goal put McAnespies into the driver’s seat.  Chances were not as plentiful for Donegal, and a point each from Darren Grant and Kieran McDevitt had the northerners on the board.   The second half continued along a similar vein with Rory Brolly coming to the fore in the forward line, and scoring a great individual point.  Cory Gallagher converted a penalty for Donegal, but a Brolly goal canceled it out soon afterwards (no blown kisses for the crowd from Rory) and McAnespies will look to add to the Enda Hammill Cup that they won a few weeks ago, with the final score 2-13 to 1-4.

In the other semi-final the Connemara Gaels dispatched a combined Wolfe Tones/Christopher’s side on a final score of 4-10 to 1-7.  It was not until the second half that the Gaels pulled away to make it safe.  It should be a good final next weekend to decide the 2022 winners.

Captains Travis Crocker and Tom Lind with Terry Doran

The Junior B Hurling championship also got off the ground with the opening game between Providence and Worcester.  Worcester earned the 2 points with some solid performances from Sean O’Shaughnessy, Tom Lind, Conor Greene, and a few clips of magic from the hurl of Jerry O’Connor.  Some nicely taken scores from Austen Clark frees and a couple from play filled the Providence column, but the Worcester sharpshooters were too much for the men from down I-95.  A second half goal from Clark would not be enough to eat into the Worcester lead as Andrew Engel and PJ Heffernan also netted for Worcester.  Final score, Worcester 2-24 Providence 1-8.

By Rory O'Donnell