Gaels return to senior football with narrow victory over Curry
Shamrock Gaels 1-13 Curry 1-10
It was the golden autumn day that John McPartland's mighty young men from Shamrock Gaels walked in the shadow of Paradise.
And, they can thank a talented 18-year-old teenager called Dylan Willis who had real ice in the blood when he blasted the ball past Curry keeper James McDonagh to bring the cup back for the first time since 1985.
Willis had only one thing on his mind when he took a picture pass from Seamus Hailstones as the crowd in the hugely atmospheric Bunnanadden Community Park held its collective breath in the 63rd minute.
And the roar that greeted his deadly finish could be heard around the rolling hills of the place famed for that great Gaelic clan called Gormley.
But, spare a thought for Curry who came roaring back and forced Gaels keeper Donal Tuohy into a dramatic save from Curry's Michael Gordon just before referee Barry Judge called time on an epic finish.
Gallant Curry came in a green wave, but the Gaels held out for the tiniest but ultimately deserved victory in a hugely entertaining affair.
However, the losers were struck a heavy blow when they lost the talismanic Adrian Marren to a second yellow card in the 53rd minute.
His dismissal came just after midfielder Sean Colleary had put them into a 1-9 to 0-11 lead.
And the south Sligo men will be forever wondering what would have happened if he had stayed on the pitch.
The final seven minutes of ordinary time were peppered by several moments of high drama, as the elegant David Quinn fired over two points to regain the lead for the winners by the 60thminute.
There were four more minutes of frenetic action when Red Og Murphy levelled matters with his second 45 metre free to leave the score at Curry 1-10 Shamrock Gaels 0-13.
But, just when we were steeling ourselves for more drama in extra time, the youthful Shamrock Gaels surged forward again.
Seamus Hailstones found himself loose on the edge of the square and instead of tapping over the bar, he went for the jugular by feeding the inrushing Willis instead and the rest will be long remembered in and around Riverstown, Sooey, GLeann and Ballyrush.
But Curry contributed to an epic affair by recovering from a 0-8 to 0-2 defeict by the 26thminute to heading their opponents thanks to a scrambled Sean Davey (40) goal in the 52nd minute.
They showed all their native courage, character and class and may feel that they deserved a draw at least.
It was Curry that settled quickest with two opening pointed frees from the usual suspects like Adrian Marren and Red Og Murphy (who was pretty well contained by the equally athletic Karl McKenna.
But, the Gaels settled, and with the towering Dillon McDermott, Joe Henry and James Carroll ruling midfield the scores began to flow from marksman David Quinn, who finished with (0-9, seven from frees).
Centre forward Brian Boyd got the Gaels off the mark and Quinn levelled matters from a free in the 8th minute.
But Curry did not score for another 23 minutes as they were repeatedly turned over and the impressive Gaels tacked on the scores.
Points from Quinn, Frank Quinn and Boyd pushed them to a 0-8 to 0-2 lead by the 26thminute.
Adrian Marren ended the Curry scoring famine from a free in the 31stminute to leave the Gaels leading by 0-8 to 0-3 at the break.
Curry did a bit of surgery at half-time, moving Sean Davey into the full-forward line, bringing on the influential Kenneth Morley and Jason Marren and it worked.
They took control of the middle third and Adrian Marren and Davey narrowed the gap to 0-10 to 0-8 by the 50th minute.
The Gaels were finding it increasingly difficult to break out of their own half and they can thank keeper Tuohy for a few crucial saves and the unerring accuracy of David Quinn for keeping them in contention.
And they showed great character in coming back from a potentially killer goal from Sean Davey.
There were hugely emotional scenes on the pitch in the aftermath of this long awaited county title.
For the next few days they will be drinking deep from the wine red rose of victory.
But Curry should not be too despondent as they showed true character when it really mattered.
Shamrock Gaels: Donal Tuohy, Declan Willis, Evan Lyons, Keith McMorrow; Karl McKenna, Paul Higgins, Andy Flynn; Dillon McDermott, Joe Henry; Shane Duignan (0-1), Brian Boyd (0-2), James Carroll; Darragh Hailstones, Frank Quinn (0-1), David Quinn (0-96f). Subs: Ciaron O'Connor for James Carroll (55), Dylan Willis (1-0), for Darragh Hailstones (59)
Curry: James McDonagh: Aaron Kearns, Tommy Stenson, Stephen Marren; Kevin Reilly, David McDonagh, Gary Walsh; Jonathon Durkin, Sean Collerary (0-1); Red Og Murphy (0-2), Sean Davey (1-1), Alan Reilly; Michael Gordon, Adrian Marren (0-5f), Tommy Henry. Subs: Kenneth Morley for David McDonagh (h-time), Jason Marren (0-1) for Kevin Reilly (38), Denis Coffey for Sean Davey (58), John Feeney for Stephen Marren (59)
Referee: Barry Judge (Castleconnor)