Seventh heaven for South Sligo kingpins

Back 28/10/2022 @ 09:07 | mainnews | Seventh heaven for South Sligo kingpins

Tourlestrane 0-15,  St. Mary’s 0-13 AET

When Tourlestrane captain Gary Gaughan stepped up to receive the Owen B Hunt  Cup alongside his player of the game brother Liam after Sligo’s Homeland Senior Football championship victory, he was also writing himself into the history books as he claimed his eleventh senior championship medal.

Gaughan and his club mate James Leonard now have won as many titles as last Sunday’s opponents - the St Mary’s club – and only his own club and their near neighbours Tubbercurry have won more.

This time round the men in green and gold were tested to the absolute limit, two points down going into added time of normal time to a St Marys team who had fully earned that lead.

The challengers were the better team in the opening half and went in a point up at the break (0-07 to 0-06) with captain Nathan Rooney converting four frees to which defender Ryan Feehily, Michael Munnelly and Stephen Coen added from play.

The second-half continued in the same vein with the Sligo town side having the greater possession and territory. They couldn’t however turn that into advantage on the scoreboard and were never more than two points ahead.

That was the position as normal time ended and despite the falling clock, the men from south Sligo didn’t rush and did what they have become renowned for.

Facing into Markievicz Park’s Town End – the ‘scoring end’ for most regulars on the ground, they stuck to their pattern, kept their hands on the ball and waited for the opening that could be exploited. When the chances came, centre forward Cathal Henry and wing back Oisin Kennedy kicked the scores that brought the game to extra time.

In contrast to normal time, during which they were never ahead, Tourlestrane took control in extra-time and were never headed.  Firstly, substitute Stephen Henry, who had joined the game in added time, converted a mark and then Cathal Henry kicked a '45’ to leave their side two points up at the end of the first period of extra-time, 0-13 to 0-11.

Despite the efforts of St Mary’s captain Nathan Rooney, who scored eight of his side’s 13 points, Tourlestrane were too organised and calm to be caught again and they maintained that two-point advantage to the end to claim an unprecedented seventh title in a row.

That record seals their status as the greatest team in the history of Sligo club football. They have now won their last 42 games in championship football and their Senior League final defeat to Coolera Strandhill earlier this year stands out as their only defeat of the last two seasons during which time they have won five of the six trophies on offer in the Yeats County.

Coolera Strandhill (twice), Drumcliffe Rosses Point, Tubbercurry and Eastern Harps are the others that have crossed swords with Tourlestrane at the final stage over those seven championships, but all have fallen in the face of a group which just doesn’t know when it is beaten.

The question now is will Fergal O’Donnell, in his first season as manager, lead this team to Connacht club success, a quest that resumes in mid November against the winners of a quarter final involving the champions of Leitrim and London.

Tourlestrane: Adam Broe; John Paul Lang, John Francis Carr, Barry Walsh; Oisin Kennedy (0-02), Adrian McIntyre, Noel Gaughan; Feidhlim O’Donnell, Conan Marren (0-01); Kenny Gavigan, Cathal Henry (0-04, 3f, 1 ‘45’), James Leonard (0-01); Liam Gaughan (0-05, 3f, 1 ‘mark’), John Kelly (0-01), Gary Gaughan. Subs: Kevin O’Hara for Lang, 41; Cian Surlis for Leonard, 54 (‘blood’ sub); Stephen Henry (0-1, 1 ‘mark’) for Walsh, 60+2; Cian Surlis for Kennedy, 74

St Mary’s: Jack Teape; Ryan Feehily (0-01), David Phillips, Fionn O’Hehir; Patrick Maher, Paul Kilcoyne, Ryan Madden; Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch, Tony O’Kelly-Lynch; Michael Munnelly (0-01), Emlyn Mulligan, Scott Lynch, Stephen Coen (0-02, 1 ‘mark’), Nathan Rooney (0-08, 8f), Jay Cox (0-01). Subs: David McGovern for Cox, h-t; Eamonn Flynn for McGovern, 58; Luke Nicholson for O’Hehir, 59; Johnny Martyn for Tony O’Kelly-Lynch, 64; Stephen Henry for Munnelly, 70; Conor Darcy for Feehily, 70; Jay Cox for Madden, 76

Referee: John Gilmartin (Curry).