Monday, August 1, 2022

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

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