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

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