Easkey hold on for final place as Western Gaels push them all the way

Back 04/10/2022 @ 10:14 | mainnews | Easkey hold on for final place as Western Gaels push them all the way

Easkey: 2-13; Western Gaels: 2-10

Reigning Sligo senior hurling champions Easkey were given the fright of their lives at Corballa on Sunday last as local rivals Western Gaels ran them to three points in a fiercely contested de3rby semi-final of the 2022 championship.

Both sides started the game without full strength sides with Western Gaels missing centre back and captain Aidan Morrison whilst Easkey were without goalkeeper Jimmy Gordon, Shane Molloy and Rory Mc Hugh and had regular centre forward Andrew Kilcullen starting in goal.

Western Gaels opened the scoring with a fine point from play from Cian Flynn.  Full Alan Cawley, who would emerge as his side’s top scorer on the day, had opportunities to extend the lead but sent two consecutive frees wide.

Easley corner forward Thomas Cawley opened his side’s account on six minutes with a point from a free but Western Gaels moved quickly in response when Cian Flynn worked well in the corner forward position and netted the first goal of the afternoon.

Fionn Moylan responded immediately at the other end with his first point of the day but Alan Cawley pointed a free to maintain his sides three point advantage after the first ten minutes,

Easkey, however got three consecutive points to level matters, two from frees by Thomas Cawley and a point from Joe Mc Hugh after a lovely link up with Finnian Cawley. 

The Western Gaels challenge wasn’t for wilting however forward line continued to cause problems for Easkey's defence as Darragh Flynn added a point from play and Alan Cawley got two from frees. 

In the final minutes of the half, Cian Flynn for the Gaels and Andy Kilcullen from a long range free for Easkey exchanged points to leave Western Gaels 1-6 to 0-6 at half time.

After the break Easkey brought Andy Kilcullen into the forward line and Bernard Feeney took up the goalkeeping position with James Weir moving into the back line.

The changes had almost immediate effect as Kilcullen opened the second half scoring with a goal after good work by Dónall Hanley under a Feeney puckout.

Alan Cawley restored Western Gaels advantage with another free but Easkey then fired off four unanswered points – three by Kilcullen to lead 1-10 to 1-7.

Another Cawley free for a foul on Derek O'Boyle stopped the rot but as the game moved into its last quarter, it became very fractious with repeated stoppages and frayed tempers.

A high ball landed in by Alan Cawley  led to frantic efforts in front of goal but the situation was rescued by James Weir.  Easkey's Fionn Connolly,  Dónall Hanley and Eoghan Rua were working well in this period and exerted pressure in half back and midfield.

Alan Cawley kept his side in touch with excellent free taking. With less than five minutes remaining  the score read Easkey 1-12, Western Gaels 1-10. A catch by Mikey Gordon from  a puckout  sent into Joe Mc Hugh who presented Fionn Moylan with an easy flick into the net.

Easkey introduced Niall Kilcullen for Hadyn Gilroy  and Oisín Flynn replaced MJ Crean.  Easkey were awarded a penalty after a foul on Thomas Cawley but Andrew Kilcullen's effort was saved by Simon Wade. Joe Mc Hugh got his third point after a passage of play with Dónall Hanley and Gavin Connolly.  The last score of the game resulted from a free which was brought forward  and Alan Cawley blasted it into the net.  Shortly after, the final whistle sounded, much to the relief of the Easkey supporters. 

Western Gaels had good performances from Fergal Ryan in midfield and their full forward line. Easkey improved their game in the second half with Fionn Connolly,  Dónall Hanley,  Gavin Connolly and Joe Mc Hugh  working hard.  Andrew Kilcullen made a great difference to the forward line.

Western Gaels: Simon Wade, Michael Connolly,  Lee Gilmartin,  Tomás Cawley,  MJ Crean,  James O'Connell,  Niall Hallinan,  Daniel Kirby, Fergal Ryan,  Paul Ruane, Derek O'Boyle,  Niall Crean,  Cian Flynn (1-2), Alan Cawley (1f-7f), Darragh Flynn (0-1) 

Subs: Oisín Flynn. 

Easkey: Andrew Kilcullen (1-4(3f), Bernard Feeney,  Gavin Connolly,  Daniel Rolston,  Ronan Molloy,  Eoghan Rua Mc Gowan,  Dónall Hanley,  Finnian Cawley (0-2), Fionn Connolly   Mikey Gordon,  Fionn Moylan (1-1), James Weir,  Thomas Cawley (0-3f), Joe Mc Hugh (0-3), Hadyn Gilroy. 

Subs: Niall Kilcullen. 


Referee: Pat Maguire