McMahon strike makes the difference in Pats victory against Churchill
St Brendans Board SFC Final: St Pats 1-14 Churchill 0-14
A hard-earned, if in the end, a fully deserved victory for St Pats over Churchill in the final of the St Brendans Board Senior Football Championship in Caherslee last Saturday evening.
Initially, Churchill who were much the sharper and more resourceful combination throughout all of the opening quarter, looked as if they were the side most likely to succeed, but gradually St Pats with a greater physical presence got more to grips with the situation and the goal, which they scored at the tail end of the opening half afforded them a lead which they subsequently never surrendered.
Churchill to their credit always remained within touching distance and with the encounter entering its final stages, it looked as if they might at least salvage a share of the spoils, but St Pats responded with a late scoring flourish which ultimately sealed the win for them.
After Jason Mortimer had opened the scoring for Churchill in the fourth minute St Pats replied with a brace of unanswered points within a minute from both Fergal O'Brien and Paul McMahon.
However, Churchill picked up the pace of proceedings considerably with their inside line of Liam O'Donnell, Ivan Parker and Michael O'Brien central to their dominance.
All three kicked scores from play to put their side four points in front 0-6 to 0-2 after thirteen minutes. Reduced to three 0-6 to 0-3 at the end of the opening quarter Churchill were full value for their lead at this particular juncture, but with Luke Mulligan and Kieran Dwyer providing some impetus for St Pats and Fergal O'Brien excelling in attack they exerted a grip in most sectors for the remainder of the half.
Churchill added just one more score to their tally throughout all of the second quarter, while St Pats having failed to capitalise with a gilt-edged goal-scoring chance in the 24th minute, were level on seven points apiece by the 26th minute and in front four minutes later when Fergal O'Brien who had kicked three points from play throughout the opening half provided an inch perfect crossfield delivery to the unmarked Paul McMahon and his finish was pretty emphatic to the roof of the Churchill net, to put his side back in front 1-7 to 0-7 at the half-time break.
They consolidated their situation, adding two more points courtesy of the impressive Eoin Greaney within eight minutes of the restart. The industrious David O'Callaghan added another, entering the final quarter they were largely in control and comfortably in front on the scoreboard 1-10 to 0-8.
However, with Jason Mortimer prominent in midfield, Churchill initiated a strong response, and, after John Fitzgerald had denied Pa McCarthy of a goal in the seventeenth minute, excellently tipping his shot over the bar, they added three more unanswered points, all scored by Michael O'Brien to leave just the bare minimum separating the sides 1-10 to 0-12 by the 52nd minute.
Certainly, Churchill were the team in the ascendancy at that particular juncture and but for some poor shot selection and a few misplaced passes in scoring situations they could well have gone in front.
Having failed to score for ten minutes St Pats needed a boost and it was provided off the bench, in particular by Patrick Dowling. They kicked four points from play inside the final five minutes to ensure a victory which owed much to their more methodical approach throughout.
Churchill sparkled at the outset and battled bravely throughout all of the final quarter, but in between St Pats built a platform for victory and the goal which they scored, ultimately proved to be the game breaker, with Churchill thereafter unable to regain a lead which they had held for a twenty minute period in the first half.
St Pats: John Fitzgerald, Joe O Connor, Tommy Lynch, Brian Murphy, Luke Mulligan (0-1), Kieran Dwyer, Cillian O'Riordan, Liam Poff, Paul McMahon (1-1), David O Callaghan (0-1), Brendan Poff, Fergal O Brien (0-3), Gary Savage, Eoin Greaney (0-7, 3f), Breandain Savage (0-1) Subs: Patrick Dowling for B Poff (blood), Brendan Poff for P Dowling, Patrick Dowling for L Poff, Tommy O Connor for C O'Riordan, Jack Lynch for G Savage
Churchill: Eoghan O Brien (0-1 free), Ciaran Carmody, Gary Rolls, Sean Hamilton, Paul Lenihan, PJ O Mahony, Jack Dolan, Jason Mortimer (0-2), Cillian Fitzgerald, JJ Prior, Pa Mc Carthy (0-1), Sean Donnellan (0-1), Liam O Donnell (0-1), Ivan Parker (0-2), Michael O Brien (0-6, 2f) Subs: Kevin O'Connor for PJ O'Mahony.
Referee: Paul Hayes (Kerins O Rahillys)
The game in 60 seconds
Michael O'Brien and Fergal O'Brien were both extremely effective and influential attackers at opposite ends of the pitch. Sean Mortimer and Luke Mulligan offered a lot in terms of their industrious input, but, in terms of providing a significant scoring input, Eoin Greaney influenced matters most of all.
Churchill will reflect on one or two, especially in the second half when a little bit more composure, and vision might well have yielded goals. But ultimately the St Pats goal coming as it did, at a most opportune time, while also putting them back in front, ultimately proved to be crucial to the end result.
With the various club championships having been completed in April and the county leagues being wrapped up by the end of August, one would expect that a Divisional championship should have a more suitable date for completion, rather than four weeks before Christmas.