Monday, July 11, 2022

Junior A Football: Connemara Gaels v Cork

Connemara Gaels 2-14 Cork 2-14

Paraic McDonagh on the ball for the Gaels
Cork and Gaels played an entertaining opening junior A football game Sunday with Cork looking like they would take the points for most of the game, only for the Gaels to steal a draw with a Paddy McGee strike on the stroke of full time.  Tom Keane was Cork’s danger man for most of the game with the corner forward from Naomh Olaf in Dublin always looking like scoring when in possession, however, some late positional changes from the Gaels saw the westerners score 2-2 in the final 10 minutes to level the scores and rescue a point.

Cork got off to the better start streaking into a 4 points to one lead.  Tom Keane was a dangerous operator at corner forward and tallied Corks first two points.  Home Grown Padraig Smith at wing forward also pointed before a goal line save by Steven Murray deflected the ball over rather than under the bar when Cork had the goal at their mercy.  The Gaels did keep the points column ticking over with scores from Paddy McGee and Tadgh O’Siochan.  Keane then went on a 3 point scoring streak and Cork looked to be well on top before adding a goal from Smith who finished his shot well into the bottom corner from 14 yards.

With Cork holding a 1-7 to 0-4 lead the Gaels lifted their efforts.  There were 3 goal chances that went awry, one went past the far post from Donal Reany, and then 2 other shots in quick succession were well saved by Cork keeper Kieran McEnerney.  The episode did signal a Gaels comeback with the westerners reducing the deficit to 3 points.  Paddy McGee at corner forward was out in front and set up scores for Barry McCambridge, and Reany.  Paraic McDonagh also pointed and the game was back in the balance as half time approached.  Keane, however, burst through and restored Cork’s 6 point advantage with an expertly taken goal just before the half time whistle.

With work to do to try and turn their fortunes, the Gaels introduced Cian Carr to the fray at center forward to begin the second half.  Scoring chances were not as frequent in the second stanza as the pace of the game slowed a bit.  The Gaels could not make a dent in the Cork lead as any Gaels score was answered in kind.  O’Siochan and McGee’s points were responded to by Dan O’Regan and Keane.  The Gaels suffered a blow heading into the final quarter as Colm Faherty was shown the back card for a foul on Colm Cafferty as he was running through.

The aforementioned Carr finally made his mark with a neatly placed ball to the far corner of the net and was followed by a point from Mark McKenzie to reduce the gap to 2 points.  Keane restored the gap to 3 with a well taken point before the Gaels spurned another goal chance.  Paddy McGee swiped at a ball on the ground as he was off balance and the shot trundled wide.  Excitement built for the final run in as there was just the goal in it.  After McKenzie made it a 2 point game, Carr was though again and his shot was met with a great diving save from McEnerney.  The subsequent 45 was pointed and only a point was between the teams with 5 to go. 

It was Cork’s turn to test the opposing keeper as Keane was through but with a tight angle to shoot, James O’Donnell saved well.  Cork pointed the 45 from John O’Mullane, Keane then pointed after hitting a shot that fizzed wide and the rebels were winning every ball now and looked like the points would be theirs.   A last chance fell to McGee, however, who put his head down and fired the ball into the top corner to level the scores and with the kickout the final whistle sounded.   Cork will be disappointed not to have taken all of the points, and for the Gaels there is still hope.

Gaels:  James O’Donnell, Ben Conway, Stephen Murray, Colman Conroy, Barry McCambridge, Colm Faherty, Bradley Fox, Mark McKenzie, Paraic McDonagh, Tadgh O’Siochan, Nessan O’Donnell, Donal Reany, Paddy McGee.  Cork:  Kieran McEnerney, Mark Laverty, Conor Moynihan, Seamus Loftus, Mark Dalton, Rory Boyle, Sean O’Brien, John O’Mullane, Padraig Smith, Dan O’Regan, John O’Riordan, Colm Caffrey, Tom Keane. 

By Rory O'Donnell

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