Friday 23 March 2018

Shoe was on the other foot in 2012

Five years on from their 2012 showdown the shoe will be on the other foot at Pairc Ui Mhuiri on Sunday.

Back then it was O'Connell's who were dubbed the 'perennial bridesmaids' of the intermediate grade, but they finally put a string of semi-final and final defeats behind them to bridge a 24-year gap to their last Seamus Flood Cup success.

This time around, after losing three finals in six seasons it's the Clans who are attempting to shake the unwanted nearly-men tag.

While no-one from either camp will be too worried how victory is secured, the neutrals will be hoping for a better spectacle.

The clash in Haggardstown was tight and tactical as two sides, set up to stifle and frustrate, cancelled each other out with O'Connells pulling through by 0-9 to 1-4.

It took the Clans almost 17 minutes to make their mark on the scoreboard with a brace of Drew Duffy frees arriving in quick succession, but that was their grand total for the first half.

O'Connell's could and should have retired with a bigger half-time lead (0-6 to 0-2), but when they opened with points from Paul McKeever and Niall Conlon and then a Robert Quigley brace after the break it appeared they would finally end their IFC famine.

Clans chipped away slowly and reduced the deficit to 8-4 with 13 minutes of normal-time remaining.

But they were always going to need a goal and it duly arrived when JJ Quigley bundled a high ball past Sean Connolly.

O'Connell's felt it was a square ball, but Clans were just as angry over a late penalty claim that was waved away by David Loughran.

Veteran Mark Stanfield settled O'Connell's nerves with a superb long-range point, but as it turned out Clans didn't manage to add to Quigley's goal.

In fact, the goal apart, the Dundalk men failed to score from open play in the whole contest.

O'Connell's didn't care - they were finally back in the big time and Niall Conlon showed just how much it meant as hoisted the Cup aloft.

O'CONNELL'S: Sean Connolly; Andrew Sharkey, Conor Byrne, Andrew Shields; Salem Rifaie, Jackie Agnew, Killian Shields; Stuart Reynolds, Dean Standfield; John Flanagan, Paul McKeever 0-4 (0-3f), Niall Conlon 0-1; Robert Quigley 0-3 (0-1f), Mark Stanfield 0-1, Cian Doyle. Sub: PJ Tuite for N Conlon (32).

CLAN NA GAEL: Eamonn Roe; Stephen Fitzpatrick, Paul Gartland, Craig Long; Keith Cunningham, Gary Hoey, Leo Martin; JJ Quigley 1-0, Billy Smith; Drew Duffy 0-3f, Paul Gore, Conor Noonan; Mark Newell, Mark McGeown, Paul Martin. Subs: Ola Olajabu for L Martin (ht), Conal McKeever for C Noonan (37), Adrian McGlynn for M Newell (46).

REFEREE: David Loughran

The Argus