An Ghaeltacht ease into final at St Marys' expense

An Ghaeltacht 4-12 - St Marys 1-9

Timmy Sheehan - JP O'Sullivan Park, Killorglin

Scores at critical junctures can ultimately have a huge bearing on the eventual outcome of a game, especially goals, and it's an age old sporting adage that goals scored just prior to the interval break or immediately afterwards can be hugely significant in terms of shifting the momentum and boosting confidence.

And, so it proved to be in this particular County Intermediate semi-final played inKillorglin last Sunday. Goals in the 30th and 31st minutes turned the game on its head, having been level in the final minute of normal time in the first half.

Seven points adrift within a minute of the restart, St Marys except for a brief period in the second half never really subsequently got back into contention with An Ghaeltacht sealing the issue with two further goals in the final fifteen minutes.

In extremely difficult conditions An Ghaeltacht were the most accomplished outfit, and, a spread of ten different scorers, confirms the quality they possessed in this regard in all quarters of the pitch.

Bryan Sheehan was always likely to be an influential performer for St Marys, and the decision by An Ghaeltacht to position Brian Ó Beaglaoich in midfield in a direct man marking match up had a big bearing on the outcome, even if the St Marys midfielder did influence matters intermittently, and kicked some fine scores.

Still, An Ghaeltacht negated his threat significantly, even if he was fouled on a few occasions with two and at times three players putting pressure on him when he was in possession. Without Denis Daly St Marys struggled to exert a grip in that vital midfield sector and indeed An Ghaeltacht territorially, and possession wise monopolised matters for long periods, and created a lot more scoring opportunities.

Inter-county colleagues Bryan Sheehan and Marc Ó Sé exchanged early points, but a goal in the sixth minute, cooly converted by Sean Cournane after Paul O'Donoghue's fine fetch and assist had created the chance for him provided St Marys with an early boost.

They retained a lead until the 15th minute with the St Marys goalkeeper Austin Constable having effected a fine save from Dara Ó Sé in the seventh minute. However, some good scores from Padraig Ó Sé who was extremely prominent throughout the opening quarter and, a superb long range effort from Sean Ó Gairbhi meant that the encounter was deadlocked (1-2 0-5) at the end of the first quarter.

Padraig Ó Sé continued to provide the impetus with some surging runs, and two pointed frees from Dara Ó Sé saw An Ghaeltacht open a 0-7 to 1-2 lead by the 23rd minute. A brace of points from Sean Cournane, one from a quite acute angle, levelled matters, but as half time approached midfielder Ciaran Ó Coileain squeezed the ball over the line after Eanna Ó Conchuir had been involved in the build up to the goal.

Dara Ó Sé added a pointed free, and inside a minute the encounter had undergone a significant transformation with An Ghaeltacht enjoying a 1-8 to 1-4 interval lead, with seven different scorers contributing.

Within a minute of the restart they had consolidated their situation even further with another goal. Brian Ó Beaglaoich's initial effort was brilliantly saved by Austin Constable, but Sean M Ó Conchuir was on hand to apply the finish for his side's second goal. Dara Ó Sé added a point, and, even though there was still almost thirty minutes left to play An Ghaeltacht with an eight-point lead, 2-9 to 1-4, were in a most commanding position. A brief response from St Marys reduced the deficit to five points, 2-10 to 1-8, by the 41st minute with Bryan Sheehan kicking a beauty from play.

Momentarily, there was a window of opportunity for St Marys, if they could score another goal. However, the score which ultimately decided the issue came at the other end, as the third quarter drew to a close, with Dara Ó Sé applying the final finish from close range for the game's fourth goal, after Austin Constable had effected another brilliant save to deny Eanna Ó Conchuir's effort.

Ahead again by eight points, 3-10 to 1-8, going into the final quarter the final result was looking pretty predictable with Colm Ó Muircheartaigh's determined efforts keeping his side's challenge intact. Impressive substitute Ogie Ó Sé appeared to get the final touch for goal number four, which completed a pretty comfortable and comprehensive win for the West Kerry side, with St Marys being reduced to fourteen players just before the finish, after Bryan Sheehan was shown a second yellow card.

The win owed much to An Ghaeltacht's collective efforts, and, to a most impressive scoring spread. They will face either Laune Rangers or Templenoe in the Championship decider, either of which will provide formidable opposition. However, there was enough to suggest in this particular encounter that An Ghaeltacht have plenty of the necessary ingredients to enable them to go all the way.

An Ghaeltacht: Tomas Mac an tSaoir, Cian Ó Murchu, Marc Ó Sé (0-1), Cathal O Luing, Brian Ó Beaglaoich (0-1) Padraig Ó Sé (0-1), Colm Ó Muircheartaigh, Sean Ó Gairbhi (0-1), Ciaran Ó Coileain (1-0), Cathal Ó Fiannachta, Dara Ó Sé (1-5, 0-4f), PJ Mac Laimh (0-1), Tomas Ó Sé, Eanna Ó Conchuir (0-1), Sean M Ó Conchuir (1-0). Subs: Roibeard Ó Sé for S Ó Gairbhi, Oigi Ó Sé (1-1) for C Ó Coileain, Ciaran Ó Ceilleachair for C Ó Fiannachta, Cathal MacGearailt for T Ó Sé, Mairtin Ó Gormain for E Ó Conchuir.

St Marys: Austin Constable, Conor O'Shea, Brian Curran, Oisin Moran, Conor Quirke, Darragh O'Sullivan, Adam Quirke, Bryan Sheehan (0-6, 5f), Jack Daly, Darren Casey, Paul O'Donoghue, Niall O'Driscoll, Anthony Cournane, Sean Cournane (1-2, 0-1f), Daniel Daly (0-1). Subs: Liam O'Connell for C Quirke, Patrick Cournane for A Quirke, Mark Quigley for D Casey, Niall Brennan for N O'Driscoll.

Referee: Eddie Walsh (Rathmore).

An Ghaeltacht selector Dara O Cinnéide was pleased with the result, if not altogether with the performance, but progress is being made by a squad largely made up of young players who have already tasted success coming up through the ranks.

"A good start to the second half, we came in four points up at half time, and, we had that great start to the second half. After about ten minutes into the second half Marys were looking for goals, and,at that stage you could see they were in a bit of bother. The scoreline at the end was easier than anticipated, but once we got the good start to the second half we were home.

"I wouldn't be entirely happy with the way we played, I suppose that's understandable, the amount of handling errors were unreal by both sides, but we are only focussing on ourselves. This time last year we were in the semi-final of the Intermediate we lost, so we are going into a final now, and that's progress.

"We are on a good bit of a run between League and Championship, we are a very young team, we are getting over the line every time, and that's good. The one thing we do have is a bit of pace in the team, we do get into positions, this pitch might have slowed us down even a bit today, and I am sure the same for Marys.

"These lads have been winners all their life at underage, it's just the youth, there's a bit of naivety there all the time, but they won an awful lot with Pobalscoil teams, and won an U-21 Championship three years ago, and there's a bit of belief creeping into it now, winning brings that."

St Marys manager Kieran McCarthy said:. "In fairness, we were right stuck in it, we were right there. I thought we would go in at half time a draw. I was saying to myself we will regroup, and we will come out in the second half, we had a bit of a wind behind us, and all of a sudden it went pear shaped. We just took our eye off of it, and we were four points down going in at half time.

"I hadn't given up at that stage, but they went down the field, another goal, and it was a seven-point game. Game over really."

The Game in 60 seconds

Main man

Certainly, some of the saves made by Austin Constable for St Marys were right out of the top drawer. Brian Ó Beaglaoich, Padraig Ó Sé and Colm Ó Muircheartaigh all produced productive passages of play for the winners while, Dara Ó Sé's scoring returns were particularly significant. However, the player who provided most of the energy, industry, and expertise was Eanna Ó Conchuir, a player with a real imposing presence.

Key Moment

Even though An Ghaeltacht's first two goals put considerable daylight between the teams, the third killed the game off as a contest. It came at the end of a period, when St Marys had reduced the deficit to five points and, had momentum fully in their favour. A goal, at either end, at that particular juncture was always going to be significant, and Dara Ó Sé's finish from close range, was ultimately the game breaker.

Talking Point

At club level the absence of one or two vital individuals can have a significant bearing on the team's chances and level of performance. Aidan Walsh and Denis Daly are two such players for St Marys. If both had been available the end result might still have been the same, but their input in pivotal positions would surely have lessened the gap between the sides.