Shamrock Gaels squeeze through to reach Junior A final

Back 03/10/2022 @ 22:31 | mainnews | Shamrock Gaels squeeze through to reach Junior A final

Shamrock Gaels 0-9; Cloonacool 1-5

Shamrock Gaels qualified for the final of the Connacht Gold Junior A championship by the narrowest of margins at Markievicz Park on Sunday afternoon.

It was a tense contest throughout matching the leaden skies overhead with intermittent drizzle and poor light making for tricky playing conditions.

In a game that both teams could justifiable say they deserved to win, the Riverstown side just had a little extra in the tank and were able to call on a lively subs bench to get themselves over the line.

It took both sides quite a while to get comfortable with the setting and although there were chances at both ends, over 16 minutes had elapsed before Shamrock Gaels opened the scoring with a Stephen Willis point.

Cloonacool responded almost immediately with a point from wing back Conor Prendergast.  The Gaels replied with a second but it was still very cagey as the game entered the last ten minutes of the half.

Cloonacool than got the opportunity to open up an advantage when a Shamrock Gaels attack at the dressing room end was turned over and the south Sligo side  moved the ball at speed to the other end of the field to release Hughie Marren inside the defence coming in from the right. He made no mistake with a rasping strike across the face of the goal into the opposite top corner of the net for a finish that would grace football at any level.

The Gaels stayed calm however and notched two points before half time, the second an exquisite high looping point from 35 metres out on the stand side side-line by Steven Willis which sent the sides in level at the break – 1.1 to 0.4.

It was Cloonacool who came out firing in the second half and finished four scores without reply to open what looked like a gap that would give them the opportunity to win the game. 

Shamrock Gaels steadied the ship however and with the wily Frank Quinn coming somewhat deeper they got themselves back into the game to trail by just two points 1-5 to 0-6 as the game entered its last ten minutes.

From there on it was the Brian Boyd show. The Gaels centre forward was firstly on the end of a Luke Flynn pass to point after a brilliant Patrick Kenny clearance and he then brought the sides level with his second point with four minutes to go. 

Possession was changing hands too easily for the faint hearted but Shamrock Gaels had established territorial advantage and the combination of that pressure inside the Cloonacool half and fresh legs off the bench eventually had an effect when Boyd worked the space to point from the left hand side to give his side the minimum advantage as the game entered its last minute,

Try as they could, Cloonacool couldn’t engineer the opportunity to take the game into extra time and Shamrock Gaels will now contest the final in a rerun of the their opening fixture of this championship against St Molaise Gaels.

Shamrock Gaels: Ultan McKenna; John Craig, Declan Willis, Shane McCann; Gavin McMorrow, Eoin O'Connell, Patrick Barrett (0-1); Conor Merrick, Arron McKenna; Dylan McKenna (0-1), Brian Boyd (0-3), Conor Kearns; Seamus Hailstones (0-1), Frank Quinn (0-1), Steven Willis (0-2). Subs: Daire Kearns for C Kearns, Luke Flynn for Barrett, Patrick Kenny for Craig, Joe Quinn for Boyd.

Cloonacool: Niall Brennan; Liam Carty, Fergus Leonard, Conor Gavigan; Padraig Murtagh, Oisín Grehan, Conor Prendergast (0-1); Eoin Carty, Jordan Brennan; Ronan Leonard, Jason Brennan, James Lawrence; Rian Moylan, Hughie Marren (1-4, 4f), Sean Carnahan. Subs: Ciaran McIntyre for R Leonard