Tourlestrane deny near neighbours
Published 15/10/2013 | 05:40
As a spectacle, it's not one that will live long in the memory but that doesn't diminish the sense of satisfaction for Tourlestrane.
On a day when the occasion seemed to stifle the efforts of both sides, Tourlestrane did just enough to edge out South Sligo rivals, Tubbercurry in the Belfry Senior Championship final at Markievicz Park on Sunday.
Tubbercurry, bidding to win the coveted Owen B Hunt Cup for the first time, will be entitled to feel this was one that got away.
They hit thirteen wides over the hour, many of them from scoreable positions, and in the final analysis it was their failure to convert good possession into tangible reward on the scoreboard which came back to haunt them.
Against that, Tourlestrane could point to two squandered goal chances in the second half. If any of those had been converted, it would have put a totally different complexion on the game.
There was little between the sides in the general run of play with the teams level on five occasions over the hour.
But it looked as if Tubber might just pull away when they edged in front eight minutes into the second half, courtesy of a fine score from Stephen Gilmartin.
But they just could find that extra bit of momentum to push on, missing some good chances from frees and from play.
David Kelly looked capable of inflicting damage every time he got on the ball but the problem for Tubber was that they just couldn't get sufficient supply up to him.
With the game finely balanced, Tourlestrane made a few switches which ultimately proved crucial in a tight and tense last quarter.
Alan Dunne was sprung from the bench to add pace and power and he seemed to have the ability to find room amidst all the congestion.
John Quinn, an influential figure throughout, was pulled out to centre-forward and suddenly there was a bit of flow and movement to Tourlestrane's game, with young John Kelly particularly prominent in the last quarter.
The steadying influence of Eamonn O'Hara, kept Tourlestrane calm and composed in those crucial closing stages and they also got their other veterans, David Durkin and Gerry McGowan, on the pitch near the end. That sort of experience is invaluable in games of this nature. It certainly helped Tourlestrane get over the line on this occasion.
In the end it was tough on Tubber, especially when they were the authors of their own misfortune in some respects.
But Tourlestrane were down this road many times before. They know how to win tight games and while they never really hit their best form, they were undoubtedly worthy champions.
With O'Hara dropping deep in the early stages, Tubber found it hard to open up Tourlestrane's defence in the opening exchanges.
At the other end, Tourlestrane made the most of their chances, racing into a two point lead with good scores from play by Shane Dunne and Quinn.
Tubber gradually settled into the contest and Brian Curran's great pass gave David Kelly the chance to open their account in the 8th minute. Kelly was on the mark again minutes later, this time firing over at the end of a penetrating run.
Tourlestrane regained the upper hand to move 0-5 to 0-3 clear by the 25th minute before McGee, who had earlier missed two easier chances, found the range with a great free from way out on the left wing.
Tourlestrane finished the half strongly, however, with James Leonard rounding off a sweeping move with a great point just before the break to give his side a 0-6 to 0-4 lead at the interval.
The tempo increased considerably in the second half with Gary and Brian Curran involved in all that mattered for Tubber.
The sides were level on three occasions as the game flowed from end to end.
Then, Quinn cleverly made room to pick off a great score to edge Tourlestrane 9-8 in front in the 49th minute.
Brian Egan stretched the advantage a minute later, after a mistake in the Tubber defence.
But still Tubber hung in there as Gilmartin reduced the deficit following good work by Kelly.
It was then that Tourlestrane's experience began to tell.
They found an extra gear when it was needed most and moved two points clear when Shane and Alan Dunne combined to set up Egan for a great score.
Alan Dunne was in the thick of the action again minutes later, creating a chance for Gary Gaughan to slot over.
Although McGee pointed a free get the gap down to two again, there was no sense of panic for Tourlestrane.
They kept taking the right options when in possession and put the issue beyond all doubt when a clinical four man move was finished in style by Kelly.