Tuesday 16 January 2018

All-Ireland champions have too much power for South Sligo side

Tourlestrane's Provincial campaign came to a premature end at Dr Hyde Park, Roscommon, last Sunday as reigning Connacht and All-Ireland club champions, St Brigid's of Kiltoom, overpowered them to record a 2-10 to 0-9 victory following their AIB Connacht Club quarter-final meeting.

Early on there appeared cautious grounds for South Sligo optimism as - playing against a howling wind in the opening-half - an experienced Tourlestrane defended in numbers to restrict Frankie Dolan and co. to three points in the game's opening quarter (0-3 to 0-0).

Having said that, though, it was already apparent that the Sligo side were being outgunned in centre-field - despite the rotating presence of a deep-lying John Quinn and Brian Egan in that sector also at times - and, worryingly, St Brigid's attacks looked eye-catchingly more threatening on each occasion.

Two little cameos that, on reflection, sum up the difference between the sides on the day came on 16 and 21 minutes respectively.

Firstly, when - in a rare first-half Tourlestrane foray upfield - John Kelly's terrific long diagonal pass found Quinn it didn't subsequently reach the oncoming Brian Egan swiftly enough and Egan was forced to shoot wide.

Against that, at the other end five minutes later - and following a well-despatched 18th minute Frankie Dolan free also - when Tourlestrane's amassed backs looked to have quelled a St Brigid's attack, that man Dolan intuitively pulled on a spilled ball for his side's opening goal to put clear daylight between the sides (1-4 to 0-0).

Further pre-interval points from St Brigid's Eoin Sheehy and Karol Mannion piled the pressure on a, by now, beleaguered looking Tourlestrane and a first-half added time Egan free - his side's only score in that opening-half - did little to hide the size of the task already facing the Sligo representatives (1-6 to 0-1).

Indeed, any glimmer of hope for Tourlestrane was ended three minutes into the second-half when the Kiltoom outfit decisively notched a second goal - Garvan Dolan blasting past Seamus Gildea from close-range following some slick build up play - to leave St Brigid's with an insurmountable eleven point advantage (2-6 to 0-1).

Although points in quick succession from Tourlestrane's John Kelly and Alan Dunne put a faintly better gloss on the scoreboard by the 35th minute, frees in response from Dolan (his second free) and Senan Kilbride - with a 38th Gary Gaughan point for the South Sligo side sandwiched in between - ensured the gap was still an overwhelming ten points at the end of the game's third quarter (2-8 to 0-4).

That was back up to eleven again when St Brigid's substitute Adrian Gleeson claimed a 46th minute point and, only for Gildea's amazingly instinctive repelling of a Ronan Stack shot, the defending All-Ireland club champions would have claimed a third goal on 48 minutes (2-9 to 0-4).

When Stephen Henry made a belated appearance for Tourlestrane on 49 minutes, it signalled the beginning of a late rally from the Sligo champions - with Henry himself clipping over from close-in less than a minute after replacing Alan Dunne (2-9 to 0-5).

Senan Kilbride did respond quickly for St Brigid's but, on 55 minutes, Cathal Henry forced former Roscommon goalkeeper, Shane Curran, to terrifically tip his shot over the bar and Kelly, Egan (free) and Stephen Henry again (with an excellent effort from distance) all helped add respectability to their side's tally (2-10 to 0-9 at the end).

Overall, however, their seven point losing margin somewhat flattered Tourlestrane on this occasion and they'll be hugely disappointed at their display this time out.

TOURLESTRANE: Seamus Gildea; Barry Walsh, Brian Kennedy, Diarmuid Dunne; Shane Dunne (capt), Noel Gaughan, James Leonard; Eamonn O'Hara, Adrian McIntyre; John Marren, John Quinn, Alan Dunne (0-1); Gary Gaughan (0-1), Brian Egan (0-2, 2f), John Kelly (0-2) Subs: Cathal Henry (0-1) for Marren (28), David Durkin for Kennedy (40), Stephen Henry (0-2) for A Dunne (49), John F Carr for S Dunne (54)

ST BRIGID'S: Shane Curran; Ronan Stack (0-1), Robbie Kelly, Niall Grehan (capt); Niall McInerney, Daragh Donnelly, Eoin Sheehy (0-1); Karol Mannion (0-2), Ger Ahern; Gearoid Cunniffe, Garvan Dolan (1-0), Padraig Kelly; Frankie Dolan (1-3, 2f) Senan Kilbride (0-2), Cathal McHugh. Subs: Adrian Gleeson (0-1) for McHugh (H-T), Alan McKiernan for Grehan (53), Johnny Murray for R Kelly (53), David O'Connor for G Dolan (55), Eddie Egan for F Dolan (57)

REFEREE: Eamon O'Grady (Leitrim)

Sligo Champion

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