Sunday, July 31, 2022

Junior A Football - Connemara Gaels v Donegal

Connemara Gaels 0-13 Donegal 0-16

Ruairi Rafferty tried to get around
Colm Faherty
It was a game the Gaels needed to win to keep their hopes alive in the junior A championship and force a possible playoff against Cork.  Donegal on the other hand were already into next week’s semi-final and just waiting to see whether it would be Cork, or another meeting with the Gaels next week.  It turned out to be a tight game all the way though until Donegal pulled away in the run up to the final whistle to knock their opponents out of the championship, and it is Cork who the northerners will meet in the semi-final next weekend.

The Gaels started the brighter of the teams and looked to be playing with a bit more intensity both in the tackle on defence and up front when in possession.  Gaels defenders were tight on their men and got the better of the early exchanges.  Tadgh O’Siorchru and Steven Murray had early points on the board, followed by Paddy McGee and Paraic McDonagh.  McDonagh could have had a goal after the ball came off the post from Steven Murray’s shot, but the Carna man’s foot got under the ball and over the bar it went.  Hugh Devine had pointed Donegal’s only score of the early exchanges, and the Gaels were looking good.

Donegal settled and had got themselves back into the game and were on level terms just after the mid-way point.  Darragh Lawlor and Ruairi Rafferty put three over between them, and the Gaels were lucky not to have lost a player to a black card after Muiris Carton was pulled down on his way through towards goal.  Carton at center forward and Rafferty at corner forward started to play a prominent role in Donegals’ efforts as the game wore on.  A few stray passes crept into the Gaels game, but the sides traded scores to maintain parity up to the half time break at 0-7 each.

Tadgh O'Siorchru on the attack for the Gaels

The second half started as the first ended with each team canceling each other out on the scoreboard.  There was never more than a point between them and the lead switched hands on a couple of occasions as the teams vied for the advantage.  Declan McBride put Donegal one to the good before Paddy McGee and Bradley Fox had the Gaels up by a score.  Rafferty leveled it again before Fox put a lovely effort over to put the Gaels up again. It was equaled by Darren Grant who sailed through the Gaels defence and ith no passing options, simply slotted the ball over himself.  Soon afterwards a similar effort from the same player had Donegal up again.   The Gaels answered through Tadgh O’Siorchru whose point had the Gaels level heading into the final 15 minutes with a nicely taken free.

After Gavin Reilly and O’Siorchru exchanged scores again the advantage swung to Donegal for the final 10 minutes.  Donegal emptied the bench as all the subs got a run and the fresh legs made a difference.  The last 10 minutes saw the northerners finish with 5 points to 2 for the Gaels.  There could have also been a goal for Donegal as Rafferty was through on a breakaway, but James O’Donnell got down well to save the low shot.  As the tiredness crept in it was Donegal who had the extra legs to seem them home in the final stretch.  Gavin Reilly popped up for two late points as he had moved into a more advanced position from his starting wing back role.  Hugh Devine, Grant and Carton all swung points over the bar to put an end to the Gaels challenge.  So, Donegal meet Cork next Sunday in the semi-final with the winners playing Aidan McAnespies in the final the following week.

Gaels:  James O’Donnell, Joe O’Shea, Ciaran Killeen, Colman Conroy, Ben Conway, Nessan O’Donnell, Bradley Fox, Tadgh O’Siorchru, Steve Murray, Cian Carr, Donal Reany, Paddy McGee, Paraic McDonagh. 

Donegal:  Padraig McLaughlin, Paul McNulty, Mark Canny, Hugh Devine, Declan McBride, Gavin Reilly, Ronan Gallagher, Darragh Lawlor, Darren Grant, Morris Carton, Chris O’Neill, Eamonn Kelly, Ruairi Rafferty.

By Rory O'Donnell

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