Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Ladies Final - Sean Og's v Boston Shamrocks

Sean Og’s 4-7 Boston Shamrocks 0-4

The Ladies football in Boston needed a jolt in 2023 and if any team was likely to give it one, it was the Sean Og’s ladies team.  Sean Og’s have come up together through the youth ranks and this was a chance to show what they could do.  With oodles of talent coming through the ranks show it they did, and with a great display of football the potential for this group of players in the coming years is sky high.

Sean Og's Ladies impressed in Sunday's Final

Sean Og’s opened with a score from center forward, Ciara Horan.  Horan ran the forward line for Sean Og’s as she was full of running and could take her own score or lay the ball off, whatever the situation warranted.  Aoife Delaney at corner forward and Aoibhe Gormley in the middle of the field were also major factors for Sean Og’s, and Delaney netted following some great work from Gormley.  The Shamrocks fought beck, however, and with some great work in the back line to force the ball to be turned over, got on the board through a Shannon Mullen point.  Clare Kennedy added another for the Shamrocks, but it was not long before the youngsters were back in the ascendancy.

Boston Shamrocks Battled Hard

Delaney, Horan and Gormley showed some great assurance in taking their points when the chances presented themselves, and as they say, take your points and the goals will come.  The goals did come from Chloe McGinty at corner foreard, Gormley, and Lynch as the game started to get away from the Shamrocks, but fight on they did and were rewarded with 2 points from Kennedy.  By half time it was goals that the Shamrocks would need to make up the gap, and Sean Og’s were not likely to allow too many openings.  The Shamrocks did continue to fight on through the second half but the outcome was clear as to who would be lifting the cup. 

Boston Shamrocks:  Kelly Tighe, Antonia O’Grady, Leanne Quinn, Kaci Lynch, Caitlin Slattery, Sile Doherty, Lauren McGuigan, Aisling Faulkner, Catriona Lynch, Sarah O’Hanlon, Claire Kennedy, Shannon Mullen, Christina McLaughlin, Nessa Oates.

Sean Og’s:  Aisling Kerr, Madison Kelly, Clare McCarthy, Christen McKeague, Michaela O’Donoghue, Maeve Skillin, Emma Lynch, Aoibhe Gormley, Lena Bannon, Ciara Horan, Aoife Delaney, Chloe McGinty, Aisling Kelly.  Michaela Kelly, Orlaigh Gormley, Aisling O’Riordan, Hannah O’Riordan, Sara Newell.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Junior A Hurling Final - Offaly v Galway

Offaly 2-19 Galway 2-13

Offaly won the junior A hurling championship with a convincing performance against a Galway side that really didn’t start playing till the second half when the gap was too great to overcome.   The week leading up to the game saw an objection from the semi-final by Fr. Tom’s that was first upheld, and then thrown out, by the various committee’s involved, and Offaly did not find out whether they would be contesting the final until a day before the final.  It was a game that featured 8 home grown players between the teams as the movement towards developing the locally born talent gains momentum.

Offaly 2022 Junior A Champions

Offaly held a sizeable lead at the break having netted through Galway man, Kevin Larkin, who was followed by Sean Moriarty with a second goal.  Up to that point the teams had been hanging with each other, Offaly held a one point lead.  For Galway Sean Whealan at center forward opened the scoring and midfielder Eoin Kerin added a second.  Offaly got off the mark through stalwart, James Rigney who lined out at corner forward.  Galway added two more, Aidan O’Malley – one of the Home Grown contingent – and Danny Lynch had Galway in an early 4 points to one lead.  Offaly started to get into the swing of things then.

Rigney and Moriarty pointed again for the faithful county, before Lynch had Galway up by two with a great score, but Offaly then stepped up the tempo and for the second 15 minutes started to put Galway farther in the rearview mirror.  Larkin found the mark with three points on the trot for Offaly to take the lead, and then as Galway were seeking a response, hit with a goal.  The scoring flurry continued with another Larkin point.  Lynch pointed for Galway, however, any hopes from the tribesmen of stemming the tide were in vain.  Another goal came from the stick of Moriarty, and Larking went into full swing again with 3 more unanswered points, Evan Campbell capped of the run of scores with a point to make it Offaly 2-11 Galway 0-6 at the break.

The early part of the second half saw Offaly pad the lead by two more points.  Lynch reopened for Galway, and again, Larkin was the man putting the ball between the posts.  A 13 point lead is a mountain to climb, even in hurling, but Galway set about trying to climb it.  The lead was cut by two points as Galway converted to 4 points to Offaly’s two, Aidan O’Malley contributing with 2 of the Galway tally.  Danny Lynch’s goal for Galway was followed by 2 more points, Cormac Kelly getting in on the act and Kerin adding another.  6 points in it now, and, like in the semi-final, Offaly needed to raise their game again to hold their opponents at bay.

Time was on the side of the Offalymen, and although Galway found the net one more time through Kerin, it would not make a dent in the lead as it was matched by 3 points from Mike Lennon, Larkin and Eoghan Fitzgerald.  Offaly junior A hurling champions for 2022 and on to Chicago for the faithful men.

Offaly:  Darragh Kealy, Dan Williams, Liam O’Connor, Jack Murray, Cathal Hayes, Jack Lynch, Evan Campbell, Michael Moriarty, Sean Moriarty, Tom Lind, Kevin larkin, Michael Lennon, James Rigney. 

Galway:  Aidan Joyce, Greg Lundy, Pat Moylan, Aidan Flanagan, Danny Lynch, Eoin Casey, Eoin Morissey, Eoin Kerin, Aidan O’Malley, Sean Whealan, Cormac Kelly, JJ Doyle, Conor Gilligan.

By Rory O'Donnell

Photo Aoife Griffin

Senior Football Final - Donegal v Aidan McAnespies

 Aidan McAnespies 2-12 Donegal 0-10

Aidan McAnespies bridged an 11 year gap with an eight point victory in the much anticipated senior football final.  There was a large crowd on hand in Canton and on a day of finals, and the biggest one did not disappoint.  The game was in the balance until the last 15 minutes when McAnespies took control and the lessons of 3 years ago had evidently been learned as they held on tightly until the final whistle.  Donegal were well in control until late in the first half when Eoin Gormley took full advantage of an opportunity and his goal was like an oxygen infusion for his team who went in 2 points to the good at half time.  The second half saw McAnespies game plan play out to perfection as Donegal could not repeat the late heroics of 2019, and it was an emotional Robert Croft who accepted the cup for his side.

Aidan McAnespies Celebrate

The game opened with a brilliant point from Paul Mannion as the teams started to feel their way into the game.  McAnespies answered with a free from Robbie Croft after Eoin Gormley drove forward and was fouled.  Both players would play a big part in the events to come.  The following period, however, saw Donegal control possession as McAnespies dropped back into their own half.  Donegal picked off the next 3 points as the ball would find its way to the open man.  Jack Doherty converted a great score, and was followed by another from Mannion.  Then it was Shane Carthy with another from distance to build a cushion for Donegal as the northerners set up camp in the McAnespies half.

Although their defence did force some turnovers, McAnespies huffed and puffed when in possession.  Between Donegal being alert to any danger and covering well to prevent a break, or a way laid pass, they could not manage to get the ball into scoring position in the opening 20 minutes.  It looked like Donegal would be able to pick off the points and slowly pull away.  Croft converted a second free to keep his side in touch, and with 10 minutes to half time a score came from what was really the first good move from the Macs.  Ronan Buckley was the scorer after the side linked up well to move the ball downfield.  McAnespies were now putting pressure on the short kickouts and it paid off after a Donegal kickout was penalized for taking too long and the ball was hopped.  It fell to Eoin Gormley and the Home Grown player smelled the chance and drove for goal before blasting the ball inside the far post.  McAnespies were still guilty of some needless turnovers, however, Donegal did not take advantage on the scoreboard and the sides traded scores, Gormley for McAnespies and a Carthy free for Donegal to make it a 1-4 to 0-5 McAnespies lead at the break.

Games turn on chances missed or taken, and shortly after the restart Donegal had an excellent chance to get the goal back.  Jack Doherty found Shane Killoran with a wonderful ball and the Roscommon man’s shot at goal forced a great save from Rory McElroy.  Mannion was on hand to clean up and pop it over the bar.  Carthy and Darragh Lyne had traded points, and Jamie Brennan picked up a yellow for a foul on Jack O’Brien.  Brennan may have been getting frustrated as McAnespies were trying to get him going but he was well marshalled by Donegal’s defence.  Croft restored the 2 point lead with a lovely score; the man from the Naomh Barrog club in Dublin would be a key element in the run in to the final whistle.

After Mannion cut the lead to a point with another great strike, it was time to call in the cavalry.  Sean Lowery came on for Killoran as Donegal tried to change their fortunes up front and go for it.  Peter O’Connell also came on for McAnespies as each side changed things up to try and gain the upper hand.  It was advantage to McAnespies as it turned out.  Croft pointed a free from distance, a score worthy of a football field at any level, and was followed by a point from Cian Sharkey, who made a lung busting run from wing back, to put McAnespies up by 4.  More changes as Keelan Sexton entered for Donegal and Jimmy McMahon for the Macs.  McAnespies defended in numbers and Donegal now really needed to make it happen.  With their opponents failing to make inroads Macs took full advantage of a turnover.  The ball ended up with Rory Brolly having a chance only to lose control, but Brennan was there to pick up the pieces and bury the ball into the back of the net.   Seven points up but plenty of time for a trademark Donegal comeback.  Would the ghosts of 2019 return to haunt the Macs?

As it happened, McAnespies banished the ghosts and in the final 10 minutes probably played their most committed football of the game.  As Donegal searched for goal it was a resolute defence that met the Tir Chonaill men and by hook or by crook, attacks were broken up and forays downfield ended in scores.  There was another goal chance that was excellently saved by Boyle from a Brennan shot after the corner forward was clean through following a turnover.  Points from Buckley, Croft and another superbly struck placed ball from the Dubliner extended the lead to nine points.  With Donegal attacks getting swallowed up surely they day would belong to McAnespies.  Lowery had a half chance that was deflected over the bar and also another point came for the Vincent’s man, but the game ended with a score from Corner back, Rob Piggott, who had his work cut out to mark Mannion for the duration and capped off a commendable display with a score.  Donegal denied a 4 in a row and after 11 years, it is McAnespies back on top and headed to Chicago for next weekend’s USGAA Finals.

Donegal:  Hugh Boyle, Jason Noctor, Ciaran Tobin, Sean Doherty, Jack O’Brien, Caolan McColgan, Shane Carthy, Shane Killoran, Cory Gallagher, Jack Doherty, Ciaran McDevitt, Paul Mannion, James Newell.  Subs: Sean Lowery, Keelan Sexton, Cian Connolly, Sean Lambe.

Macs:  Rory McElroy, Gavin Nangle, Rob Piggott, Owen Ward, Colm Lennon, Cian Sharkey, Steven Ward, Daragh Lyne, Ronan Buckley, Rory Brolly, Robbie Croft, Eoin Gormley, Jamie Brennan.  Subs:  Peter O’Connell, Jim McMahon, Tiernan Saul, Ruairi Scott.

By Rory O'Donnell

Photo Aoife Griffin

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Junior A Football Final - Donegal v Aidan McAnespies

Donegal 2-10 Aidan McAnespies 0-12

Donegal captured the Junior A football championship after a tightly contested final with Aidan McAnespies.  Donegal netted twice in the game with a goal in each half, and the irony with both goals was they came at times when Donegal were down a man due to the black card sin bin.   Darren Grant put in a tremendous performance in the middle of the field, and the forward line with Muiris Curtin at center forward and Ruairi Rafferty at corner forward were a constant threat.  With the game on the line Donegal also got some great contributions from the players brought in from the line to see them through to the end.

Donegal Celebrate the Junior A Football Championship

There was a goal in it at the end of the first half.  It came late in the half after Declan Scott was shown a black card for a pull down.  McAnespies were looking to level the game, and with half time looming and the extra man to start the second half, things were looking in their favor.  Donegal turned the tables, however, as Curtin netted after being found by Rafferty with a good strike to the corner of the net from about 21 yards.  Donegal had a cushion they could use and weather the opening of the next period. 

The half had opened with each side scoring a flurry of 3 points a-piece.  Grant, Rafferty and Grant again for Donegal, and for the Macs it was Padraig Dillon, Aidan O’Malley, and Dillon again.  While McAnespies then had a series of chances off the mark, Donegal made it a 3 point lead with Curtin putting 3 frees over the bar as fouls were punished.  McAnespies started to make forays deep into Donegal territory with runs from midfield and were rewarded with scores from Mark Coughlan, Ciaran Wallace, and a Paddy O’Neill free.  Then, with Donegal up by a 7 points to 6 score, the back card incident came and Donegal’s first half goal.  McAnespies will have rued a chance that hit the crossbar, and Coughlan cleaned up with a point. 1-7 to 0-7 Donegal at the break.

Neither side waited too long to make changes.  James Rigney and Daithi Higgins entered play McAnespies and for Donegal Darragh Lawlor and Brian Deasy came on and made contributions.  Donegal held possession well to effectively kill the black card penalty, and holding the lead could afford to do so.  A Rafferty free had Donegal up by a four, but McAnespies set about reining in their opponents and the game was level by the time the third quarter was played.  Conan McCusker put a hard won point over the bar, and was followed by Dillon, center back Adam Doyle – who started and finished the move, and Coughlan.  15 minutes to go and all square.

As the teams struggled to get an upper hand, it looked like it would be McAnespies who had it after Liam McCray was shown a back card for his challenge, and this time it would result in McAnespies having the man advantage till time was up.  Donegal were first to score afterwards though, though Ronan Gallagher with Lawler and Deasy also involved; all came on as subs.  McAnespies then leveled with a pointed free from Paddy O’Neill.  The game was in the balance again.  Legs were getting tired and passes going astray, and it really was up for grabs at that point.  Donegal went up again with a free from Grant after a call that was met with loud disapproval from the McAnespies supporters, but the deal was sealed almost straight afterwards when Deasy netted.  It was another goal for Donegal when a player short due to a black card, and Deasy made no mistake from close range.  Deasy was then on hand to block a shot as McAnespies tried to retrieve the situation, and with the final whistle it was the Donegal supporters celebrating a close earned win. 

Donegal:  Padraig McLaughlin, Paul McNulty, Mark Canny, Neil McEneaney, Declan McBride, Gavin Reilly, Ronan Gallagher, Darren Grant, Hugh Devine, Muiris Curtin, Liam McCray, Jack Droney, Ruairi Rafferty.  Subs:  Ronan Gallagher, Conall Darragh, Brian Deasy, Darragh Lawler, Conor Brennan.

Macs:  Jack Lake, Ger Dillon, Darren Maher, Colm O’Malley, Adam Doyle, Conan McCusker, Niall Murphy, Mark Coughlan, Aidan O’Malley, Paddy O’Neill, Tom McKenna, Padraig Dillon, Ciaran Wallace.  Subs:  James Rigney, Keith Connell, Daithi Higgins, Sean Clifford.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Senior Football Semi-Final; Donegal v Connemara Gaels

Donegal 3-10 Connemara Gaels 2-12

Cory Gallagher with Matt Sullivan in attendance.
(Photo by Jack Collins)
The last few years Donegal have been the team to beat in Boston, and this year it’s no different.  There was a lot to talk about before and after this titanic semi-final, where the Gaels stood between Donegal and a fourth final appearance on the trot.  The Gaels looked like they had found a winning formula last week with their win over Aidan McAnespies, and stuck with much the same side.  The only difference being defender Callum Holland having to return to Ireland due to a bereavement.  There was plenty of anticipation as to who might be in Donegal’s starting side given recent events in the news, but it would be a strong side whether or not they availed of the services of Ciaran McFaul, who though togged out, was not in the starting lineup.  As it played out, the game was in the hands of the Gaels heading into the final quarter, but after the water break some changes from Donegal turned the tables and sent them into next Sunday’s final and a chance at 4 in a row against Aidan McAnespies.   

It was a sluggish enough opening 30 minutes, with the heat clearly doing a number on both teams and the anticipated fireworks did materialize – they would be saved for the second half.  For the first 10 minutes it was a point each.  Justin Kieran opened the scoring for the Gaels with a nicely taken point from play and a few minutes later a Paul Mannion free had the teams on level terms.  The game went into a lull for most of the opening quarter, with the dead heat draining energy levels, only broken by a Donegal goal.  It was Keelan Sexton who applied the finish to a move that almost broke down. Shane Carthy found himself in possession with the keeper to beat, but held his fire to pass to Sexton who had the net yawning in front of him.  Shane Killoran extended the Donegal lead following a turnover of possession in the Donegal back line, with Donegal keeper Hugh Boyle starting the move.

Each time the Gaels won possession Donegal retreated and had all players behind the ball, and the Gaels threat of the quickness of Kieran at wing forward and James Garrity at corner forward was largely neutralized.  As the Gaels searched for the gaps Donegal patiently waited for the turnovers.  Kieran McDevitt pointed and Mannion and Carthy followed with scores.  Kieran occasionally found openings if the ball was played in quickly, and capitalized with points on two occasions.  The half ended with Garrity and Kieran combining for a score, and Kieran with a pass from Matt Sullivan pointed to make it a one goal Donegal lead at the break, 1-5 to 0-5.

The Gaels turned the tables in the 15 minutes following the restart as the game opened up and maybe a second wind took hold.  Kieran Turbitt was introduced early, and in the middle of the field a ding dong battle between Jack Lynch and Shane Killoran broke mostly in favor of the Gaels home grown player.   The Gaels gained a foothold in the game.  A couple of early Gaels wides signaled what was to come as the next five points broke 4 to one for the Gaels.  A string of scores from Turbitt, Garrity, Turbitt again, and then Kieran, was broken up by an excellent Keelan Sexton point for Donegal – and the teams were level.  The Gaels were on top of the Donegal kickouts and enjoyed plenty of possession.  A Caolan McColgan foray into Gaels territory lifted the pressure off Donegal and ended with Mannion pointing a free.  Then the Gaels edged into a lead for the first time since the opening score.   Kieran produced the leveler, and the go ahead came from a turnover forced by Michael Coyne deep inside the Gaels own half.  The ball made its way to Garrity who put the ball between the posts.

The answer from Donegal came from none other than Mannion.  Donegal had brought on their own fresh legs, and Derryman, Jack Doherty who came on in the middle of the field was having a strong influence on the game, winning plenty of possession and starting Donegal attacks.  With the game in the balance Gaels veteran, Sean Conneely won the ball on the Donegal end line.  Conneely turned his man and from an angle that seemed impossible to score from, put the ball inside the far post with a left footed shot.  The Gaels saw that this might be their day after all, then came the second half water break.

With the game in the balance and the Gaels looking like they might be the ones to proceed to the final, a couple of additional changes from Donegal for the final 10 minutes swung the game decisively.  On came Sean Lowery, and the St. Vincents man played like he had a point to prove with relentless and single minded running.  To the surprise of many in attendance, McFaul was also added to the fray, and when the game restarted the change in fortunes was instantaneous.  McFaul won a couple of early balls and the result was 2 Donegal points, one from Lowery.  Then came a goal from Shane Carthy.  Lowery was involved after he was found in space running at the goal.  The shot went across the face and Carthy was on hand to side foot into the empty net. 

Donegal up by two, and the Gaels were in danger of caving in in the run in to the final whistle.  A Turbitt free brought the lead back to point, and Donegal struck again.  This time Lowery, with a similar run, buried the ball himself on this occasion to the jubilation of the Donegal supporters.  With the clock hitting the 30 minutes the Gaels pulled the goal back.  Once again, Justin Kieran dug deep to win the ball and hit a hopeful one across the Donegal goal into a crowd and Dylan Murtagh got his foot to it to make it a one point game again.  Would there be time for another chance for the Gaels?  Not so as once Donegal broke upfield from the breaking ball off the kickout, the final whistle sounded.  Disappointment for the Gaels, and for Donegal going for 4 in a row with another date with last year’s final opponents, Aidan McAnespies, next Sunday at 5:00.

Gaels:  Sean Fox, Jack Coyne, Ciaran Killeen, Michael Coyne, Barry McCambridge, Colman Mulkerrin, Ryan Caffrey, Jack Lynch, Justin Kieran, Matt Sullivan, Sean Conneely, Mikey Kerr, James Garrity.

Donegal:  Hugh Boyle, Jason Noctor, Ciaran Tobin, Sean Doherty, Jack O’Brien, Caolan McColgan, Shane Carthy, Shane Killoran, Cory Gallagher, Ciaran McDevitt, Keelan Sexton, Paul Mannion, Chris O’Neill.

By Rory O'Donnell

Monday, August 8, 2022

Junior A Hurling Semi-Final: Offaly v Fr. Tom Burke's

Offaly 2-16 Fr. Tom Burke’s 2-13

Robert Croft takes off for Offaly

It was a game of 2 halves between Offaly and Fr. Tom’s with Offaly dominating the opening 30 minutes, while Tom’s looked not to be at the races.  The second half was a turnaround with Tom’s keeping the Offaly men on edge and almost pulling off a comeback only to fall short as time ran out. 

Offaly outscored their opponents 11 points to 3 in the opening 30 minutes.  The Offaly men were first to everything and scores came from a few different quarters.  Kevin Larkin was the main threat with the free-taking duties and the wing forward accounted for 6 of the 11 Offaly points.  Robert Croft was not far behind with 3 points from play and the Dubliner fired a couple of impressive scores over the bar.   Tom’s looked like they were severely struggling in the heat and to get some kind of momentum going, and did not get much of a return for their efforts.  It took a long range free from Fran Keenan who had lined out in goal to get them off the mark, followed by seasoned veteran Seamie Higgins with a score.  Enda Keary accounted for the third point for Tom’s, but the way the game was going an easy Offaly victory looked like it was on the cards.

The second 30 minutes was a completely different story, and Tom’s will have been wondering why they left it so long to get going.  Once they did Tom’s looked impressive with the big guns getting into the flow and hitting some great scores.  John O’Doherty came on at half forward and also aided the efforts of the Tom’s men, and the game took on a whole different complexion.

Dylan Costello rises for Tom's

The Offaly lead was shrinking as Tom’s had fired over 3 points to one from the Faithful County side shortly following the restart.  Croft accounted for the Offaly score, and then it was Cormac Joyce-Power, O’Doherty, and Aaron Moore who put three over without reply.   Offaly were under pressure to regain the advantage and a goal from substitute Pat Murray provided relief from the onslaught.  Murray’s low shot sneaked into the inside of the near post and Tom’s good work to begin the second half was undone in one swing of the hurl.

But, back to work went the Tom’s men.  Joyce-Power and O’Doherty had the gap back to 6 points with three unanswered points and again, the tables looked like they could well turn.  A 65 from Aaron Moore made it 5 between the teams but when Offaly had to dig in, they did.  Offaly had a chance to open the gap again after winning a penalty.  James Rigney was the taker, but in the showdown between Kinnity and Camross, it was the Laois man who came out on top and Fran Keenan was equal to the shot, and deflected it over the bar for a point instead of 3.

Offaly got some great play from Home Grown players Sean O’Shaughnessy in the back line and Tom Lind up front.  O’Shaughnessy won a number of balls and cleared well, while Tom Lind at half forward did well to keep the ball moving.  Points from Pat Murray and Croft had Offaly breathing easy again.  But, Tom’s were not done with keeping Offaly nerves on edge as O’Doherty netted to put 4 between the teams and with time still on the clock, it was very much game on.  Offaly got the goal right back though, as Larking hit the net following an assist from Croft.  Tom’s had to go for goal now, and a couple of low attempts resulted in a point.  Joyce-Power netted a late goal and with just 3 points in it, there was still a chance form Tom’s.  Unfortunately for them, and to Offaly’s relief, the whistle blew for full time before there was another chance at goal and Offaly will be meeting Galway in Sunday’s final.

Offaly:  Darragh Kealy, Simon Sinnot, Liam O’Connor, Jack Murray, Cathal Hayes, Sean O’Shaughnessy, James Rigney, Robert Croft, Evan Campbell, Tom Lind, Kevin Larkin, Michael Lennon, Stephen Brown. 

Tom’s:  Fran Keenan, Ciaran Mulhall, Brian Troy, John O’Riordan, Brian Flynn, Paul Cannon, Jack Martyn, Oisin McCormack, Aaron Moore, Seamus Higgins, Enda Keary, Jason Costello, Cormac Joyce-Power.

By Rory O'Donnell

Intermediate Football Semi-Final - Shannon Blues v Christopher's

Christopher’s 0-17 Shannon Blues 1-15

Referee PJ Rabbitte, Blues captain Niall Walsh
and Christopher's captain Paudie Kenneally.

It was a very exciting Intermediate semi-final between Christopher’s and the Shannon Blues.  With rarely more than a score between the teams it went all the way to the wire and while the game had all the hallmarks of requiring extra time, it was decided within the hour by a Conor Fitzgerald point in the 30th minute.

Christopher’s settled right into the game and in the early going racked up four points to a pointed free from Maurice Young.  The ball was moving well into the Christopher’s forwards and Alan Kennedy and Killian Kilkelly were on the mark.  The Blues first good move of game ended in a well taken Tom Murnane point.  The score was soon followed by a goal for the Blues.  Following a move down the left side of the field, the ball was played across goal and Mike Moylan was on hand to side foot into the net.  The Blues then started to motor. 

A flurry of four unanswered points saw the Blues into a four point lead.  Tom Murnane at corner forward was seeing much more of the ball and making good use of it, and Conall Ryan chipped in with a point from wing forward.  Blues captain and center forward, Niall Walsh, had to leave the field of play with a knee injury but a few adjustments kept the Blues momentum going.  Christopher’s tried to work their way back into the game and converted from Jerry Kenneally and Kennedy, however, Ryan answered for the Blues.  Rian Baily who had moved into a more advanced position took the score of the game with a point from an almost impossibly tight angle to make it a 0-8 to 1-8 Blues advantage at the half.

The second half continued to see the teams trade jabs with neither side finding a decisive blow.  The Blues pried the gap open a little with a Bailey score, followed by another from Murnane.  Murnane was involved in the next as he provided the assist to Cian Surliss.   With a Kennedy score the sole reward for Christopher’s after the restart, it was starting to look like the Blues would take control.   Derek O’Brien was doing tremendous work in the Blues rearguard and carrying the ball into the teeth of the Christopher’s defence.

Shannon Blues Look Forward to next week's final

It was Christopher’s turn to up the ante though, and close the gap back to a single score.  The Kilkelly – Kennedy axis started to work again, and points were added by Dave McSweeney and Conor McGuinness after Christopher’s forced the Blues into a turnover.  Christopher’s got a lift after a great block from Paudie Kenneally saved a certain Blues score.  Pat Moylan did convert a ’45 but then it was a run of 5 points on the trot that saw Christopher’s into a one point lead following the second half water break.  Alan Kennedy turned it up a notch and the Westport man showed some great skill and marksmanship as he was found in dangerous positions time and again.  Now it was Christopher’s looking like they might be the team to take the spoils at the death with only minutes remaining. 

The final sequence of events saw the Blues take the game by the narrowest of margins, and Christopher’s will look back at a couple of late chances that could have delivered it.  A miskicked free from the Blues was followed by a mishandled ball from Christopher’s that resulted in conceding a sideline kick, and then a close range shot that came high off the post ended up with a free to the Blues that Murnane converted to level the scores.  The Blues won the critical kick out and Conor Fitzgerald showed a cool head to point and put the blues one to the good.  There were a couple of late chances for Christopher’s that did not pan out, and at the final whistle it was the Blues celebrating a final appearance against none other than Kerry next Sunday.

Blues:  Nik Albarran, Tom Armstrong, Teddy Shay, Derek O’Brien, Cian Surliss, Pat Moylan, Jack Young, Maurice Young, Rian Bailey, Niall Walsh, Conall Ryan, Tom Murnane, Mike Moylan. 

Christopher’s:  Bill Crookston, Pat Kenneally, Martin Coppinger, Andrew Inman, Luke Tunney, Diarmuid Baker, Conor McGuinness, Jerry Kenneally, Sean Igoe, Killian Kilkelly, Denis Dempsey, Mark McSweeney, Alan Kennedy.

By Rory O'Donnell

Junior B Football Semi-Final - Cork v Donegal

Cork 0-9 Donegal 1-16

Donegal's Paul McNulty wins a free
Donegal stamped their passport with a date in the Junior A football final with a fairly comfortable win against Cork in Sunday’s semi-final.  The rebels were without the services of a couple of key players, and a recent trip to Ireland for a number of home based payers did not help matters.  From early on it was fairly clear that would only be one winner and though Cork battled in the heat to try and keep it respectable, there was no stopping Donegal on their path to the final.

Corner forward Ruairi Rafferty was first to get on the scoreboard for Donegal and fired over the first 3 points for the northerners.  Center forward Muiris Curtin was next on the board with a free and after Paul McNulty made a foray all the way from corner back to add a fifth, the signs were ominous for the Corkonians.  Donegal were dominating the middle of the field as whether they went long or short with the kick outs, Cork found it hard to get the ball up to their main threats for scores, Tom Keane and Mike Moynihan.  Hugh Devine added another, Neil McEneaney got in on the act and Jack Droney as the flow could not be stemmed by the rebels.  Before the break Moynihan and Culann Barry got Cork on the board and if one thought that some confidence would be restored, it was a case of think again as Donegal netted just before the break though Droney with Rafferty supplying the pass.

Ruairi Rafferty Shoots

The second half played out in the dead heat with each team giving a run to the lads on the line.  Evan Foley and young Home Grown player, John O’Riordan, added some points in the Cork column but at that stage it was a matter of playing out time.  A disappointing end to the season for Cork, and for Donegal it is a final date with Aidan McAnespies next Saturday.

Donegal:  Padraig McLaughlin, Paul McNulty, Mark Canny, Neil McEneaney, Declan McBride, Gavin Reilly, Ronan Gallagher, Hugh Devine, Darren Grant, Muiris Curtin, Liam McCray, Jack Droney, Ruairi Rafferty.  Cork:  Niall O’Doherty, Conor Moynihan, Mike Carolan, Simon Kennedy, Colm Caffrey, Rory Boyle, Seamus Loftus, Culann Barry, Evan Foley, Mike Moynihan, Padraig Smith, Tom Keane, Kieran McEnerney.

By Rory O'Donnell

Monday, August 1, 2022

Senior Football - Galway v Donegal

Donegal 4 – 14 Galway 0-8

Jack Doherty tries to break free for Donegal
By the time the game began all hope was lost for Galway as a chance at forcing a playoff for the semi-final was lost after the Connemara Gaels defeated Aidan McAnespies in the previous game.   Galway had defeated Donegal a few weeks earlier, and repeating the feat was always going to be a tall order.  Donegal picked away at the points for the first half and most of the second and saved the goals for the second.  To Galway’s credit, the Brighton based team always fielded with at least 4 Home Grown players most of whom are not long out of the underage program and their first experience of a season at this level will surely stand to them.

Keelan Sexton got his chance on the 45 in the absence of Ciaran McFaul on Sunday, and the Clareman made an impression with some excellent running and well taken scores.  Donegal kept the pressure up from the off and were five points to one up after 10 minutes.  Shane Killoran got the scoring started and it continued with Paul Mannion, Jack Boyle and Ciaran McDevitt.  Paddy Mullins got Galway off the mark, and Daire Keenan added two more to have it a 3 point game after the first quarter.

Donegal put the pressure on before the half time break with Sexton and Mannion proving to be too much for the Galway rearguard to handle.  Galway tried to get the ball up to their dangerous corner forwards who, when in possession looked likely to gain dividends, but the Donegal blanket was not going to give away much in that regard.

The second half saw the goals coming and sank Galway hopes of a positive end to the senior football season.  The first goal came from one of the Home Grown players, Chris O’Neill.  Sexton added a second goal soon afterwards and it was really a case of seeing out the time at that stage.  With the subs coming off the line from both benches, Sean Lowrey netted twice more for Donegal before all was said and done.  As it happened, Donegal will be playing a semi-final against a Connemara Gaels team that seem to have some new-found confidence following their victory against Aidan McAnespies earlier in he day.  For Galway, the Westerners are looking forward to a Junior B football semi-final against Donegal next Saturday.

Donegal:  Hugh Boyle, Ciaran Tobin, Jack Boyle, Aidan Sullivan, Jack O’Brien, Sean Doherty, Cory Gallagher, Shane Killoran, Ciaran McDevitt, Keelan Sexton, Jack Doherty, Paul Mannion, Chris O’Neill.

Galway:  Blaine Sheridan, Aidan Flanagan, Ricky Johnston, Paddy Mullins, Ciaran Potter, Stuart Cullen, Eoin Morissey, Keith Doyle, Pat Moylan, Danny Burke, Mike Moylan, Daire Keenan, John Dunne.

By Rory O'Donnell

Senior Football - Aidan McAnespies v Connemara Gaels

Connemara Gaels 3-13 Aidan McAnespies 1-12

Cian Sharkey eludes Sean Conneely
It was the best performance from the Gaels since the season began, and following last week’s defeat at the hands of Donegal, a morale booster.   The Gaels had to win to avoid a possible playoff scenario with Galway, while a McAnespies victory would see them free and clear into the final two weeks from now.  Two first half goals, with Justin Kieran having a hand in both, set the stage for the Gaels win and it is all to play for heading into next weekend’s semi-final.

The Gaels went in 2 goals to the good at the end of the first 30 minutes.  The first came early in the half from a Kieran blast from 14 yards after the Armagh man was played through by corner forward James Garrity.  The second came from Barry McCambridge, with the assist from Kieran, with about 20 minutes gone.  McCambridge slotted home low from a tight angle to put the Gaels 2 goals to the good.  The game began with McAnespies putting over 2 unanswered from Jamie Brennan and a Robbie Croft free kick.  The came Kieran’s goal.  The Gaels were noticeably up for the game and from back to forward were playing with a must-win intensity.  After Kieran pointed there was a black card shown to Steven Ward and the Gaels took advantage.

Scoring 1-3 to a Rory Brolly point during the black card period, the Gaels held a 2 goal lead by the time Ward returned to play.  Robbie Croft had to leave the field due to an injury and after McAnespies pulled 2 points back, the Gaels put three unanswered over to finish the half.  Kieran was full of running throughout the half, and along with the Gaels clearly up for the game the defenders were marking tight and tackling hard, it was a deserved 2-7 to 0-6 lead at the break.

Justin Kieran gets away from his man.

McAnespies had the man advantage to start the second half after Jack Coyne had been shown black just before the half time whistle.  The early part of the second half saw McAnespies win everything that landed around the middle of the field and the deficit was soon 4 points smaller after a Brennan point was followed by a Tiernan Saul goal, Saul had replaced Croft in the first half.  A quickly taken free found Saul who did not hesitate with the shot and it was 2-7 to 1-7.   A macs comeback was clearly on the cards.

The Gaels lifted their efforts, however, with the Macs threatening, and again it was Kieran who twice had the pass to James Garrity who pointed each time.  McAnespies still pushed to overturn the gap, and Ronan Buckley and Colm Lennon points had them still believing.  When the Gaels needed a lift it was again Kieran who provided it.  A good point from the Armagh man was cancelled out by a Buckley point before the Gaels netted a third goal.  Conor Turbitt had been introduced to play and found himself through only to have his shot saved by Rory McElroy.  Michael Kerr was on hand to slot the rebound home and it was looking good for the Gaels.  Who else but Kieran followed the goal with a well-earned point and there was 7 between the teams again, and the final whistle in sight.  The Macs needed a goal to have a chance at a turnover, but it was a long shot and the Gaels saw out the game.

As it turned out, the bye into the final was decided by a toss of a coin between Donegal and McAnespies, and the coin turned up in the Macs favor who will have a weekend off before playing for it all against either Donegal or the Gaels who meet in next Sunday’s semi-final.

Gaels:  Sean Fox, Jack Coyne, Callum Holland, Colman Mulkerrin, Barry McCambridge, Michael Coyne, Ryan Caffrey, Jack Lynch, Sean Conneely, Matt O’Sullivan, Justin Kieran, James Garrity, Matty Duane.

Macs:  Rory McElroy, Rob Piggott, Gavin Nangle, Owen Ward, Colm Lennon, Cian Sharkey, Steven Ward, Daragh Lyne, Ronan Buckley, Rory Brolly, Robbie Croft, Owen Gormley, Jamie Brennan.

By Rory O'Donnell