Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Men’s Senior Football Final 2023- Connemara Gaels v Donegal

In the final showdown and the most exciting game of the season, Donegal took home the Championship title. The Connemara Gaels fought to the very finish, but it was the boys in green and gold that came out on top. Droves of supporters showed up for both teams, lining the pitch on every side.  

It was almost impossible to predict a winner at the beginning of the game. The Gaels had been undefeated this season, winning five of their six matches and drawing one- their first meeting with Donegal. With no previous winner to base it off, the game could have been anyone’s and the final few minutes of the match proved that.  

The first score of the game was from a free taken by number 9, James Darcy. Two wides for Donegal felt like a bad start, but Gaels number 12, Daniel Kerrs shot also hit the post. Eight minutes in there was just one point on the scoreboard for the Gaels and none for Donegal. A point from free for Dan Lynam was followed shortly after by a point fisted over the bar by Donegal’s number 15 Jason McGee, the first score for Donegal. This initiated the scoring for both teams. Points from Gaels’ 11, Dan Lynam, and 12, Daniel Kerr, were matched by some from Mc Gee (15) and Shane Carthy (11). Suddenly, the score was level, which would become a common occurrence in this match. The Gaels’ goalie made an incredible save, deterring a goal attempt by Donegal’s full forward line. However, a point put them in the lead for the first time in the match. A low ball into Gaels’ Simon Garrity (13) had supporters on their feet expecting a goal, but he kicked it directly at the goalie who saved it with ease. Desperate to finish the first half in the lead, the Gaels used precision to work the ball up the field and to number 11 Lynam who kicked it over the bar, giving them their advantage back.  

At halftime, the score was Connemara Gaels 0-7 to Donegal 0-6. The low level of scoring was a credit to the dedication of both teams defenders. Everyone knew that no matter what the outcome was, it would be a tight game.  

The first nail-biting moment of the second half came almost immediately, with a low ball in by Mc Gee (15) and an incredible save from James Keoghan. A point made them level again. Two Gaels points from 10 Emmett McMahon and 13 Garrity followed. After a hiatus from scoring, McGee reappeared with a point. Two beautiful points from Gaels’ 22 and 9, James Darcy put them in the lead. The flip-flopping between being level and being one point ahead persisted and made both teams frustrated. With approximately 12 minutes to go, Gaels managed to hold onto a two-point lead. Even after a point from Donegal’s David Garland (12), Gaels McMahon dodged several defenders and popped the ball over the bar to maintain their two-point lead.  

It was the joint work of Donegal’s 22 and 23 that put them back on par. With not much time left, there had to be a winner. The teams rallied to try anything they could to get that final score that would seal the deal. It was number Darcy (9) that answered their call, with an all-powerful goal that shot into the back of the net with force. The Gaels’ supporters went wild.  

Games turn on chances missed or taken, and in the next play, Donegal’s number 15 McGee saw his chance and took it. A goal from him sent the crowds into hysterics. His score put them just one point behind the team that seemed fast-tracked to success. With less than a minute left, a Donegal point leveled the score once more, with a point that gave them a lifeline. The final 30 seconds seemed to last a lifetime until Gaels’ Garrity (13) sent a ball wide and the crowds knew an even score at full-time was going to be the outcome.  

Injury time was all that remained, and the players fed off the crowds who were on their feet. Two consecutive and rapid points from Donegal’s number 2, Jason Noctor and Cian O’Grady gave them a 2-point lead. It all came to a head when a free was awarded in front of the goal for Gaels’ 18. Needing a goal worse than ever, the Gaels played it safe with a point. With just one point between them, and just seconds on the clock, the play was feisty. Two black cards were dished out in the final minute. Unfortunately for the Connemara Gaels, there just wasn’t enough time to secure one more score.  

As the final whistle blew, the Gaels’ heads dropped in defeat. After an incredible season, they had lost out on their chance at the title. There was no denying that whatever team ended up winning was deserving. Donegal fought back time and time again throughout the match and their perseverance paid off.  

The final score in this championship final was Donegal 1-18 to Connemara Gaels 1-17.  

The Donegal lads will now head to Denver Colorado, where they will compete in the USGAA finals.  


1. Hugh Boyle
2. Jason Noctor
3. Sean Maloney
4. Cory Gallagher
5. Conor O'Donnell
6. Sean Winston
7. Thomas Galligan
15. Jason McGee
9. Ciaran McDevitt
10. Shane O'Donnell
11. Shane Carthy
12. David Garland
13. Dara Roche

Connemara Gaels:

1. James Keoghan

2. Ronan Lanigan

3. Eoghan Murray

4. Colman Mulkerins

5. Jack Lynch

6. Mikey Kerr

7. Paul Kearney

8. Nathan Donnelly

9. James Darcy

10. Emmett McMahon

11. Daniel Lynam

12. Daniel Kerr

13. Simon Garrity


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