Thursday 18 October 2018

St. John's are intermediate champions

St John's 1-14 St Farnan's 0-12

Emma Gallagher

St John's tally of 1-10 in a much-improved second half saw them lift the Kennedys Intermediate trophy despite a valiant effort from St Farnan's in the replay at Markievicz Park on Sunday.

The west Sligo men were ahead by five points at half-time and looked to be cruising after St John's were not at full steam.

The second half however was a completely different affair for Dara McGarty's men and with an early goal from Tommy Kelly two minutes in, they were right back in it and the momentum switched in their favour.

The first half belonged to the young St Farnan's side and they were impressive on the attack, the O'Connor brothers Paddy and Ciaran working hard alongside James Hynes and Stephen Mulligan.

They looked very much in control, St John's on the other hand lacked their normal intensity in the opening period and St Farnan's should have been more in front.

Noel O'Donnell saved two close-range goal opportunities for Gerry Connolly's men in the opening half, the St John's man pulling off two excellent saves as the west Sligo side should have been more ahead at the break.

It was Alan Keane who got the game's opening score, Fiachra Grennan was fouled less than a minute in, referee TJ Keaveney awarding the free as Keane duly stepped up to send over his first of four points of the afternoon.

It wasn't long until St Farnan's hit their first score, Martin Mulligan sending over a great point from play on 3 minutes.

Then Paul McNamara, who was excellent throughout for St John's, responded down the other end with a point from play with the hard-working Charlie Harrison involved.

Midfielder David Rooney saw his shot unluckily hit off the post but a minute later Shane Stenson and Grennan linked up with Keane who got his second, good build up play from St John's.

However it would take 12 minutes before they scored again, Mark Devaney went on a driving run and pointed a fantastic score from play for St Farnan's, which signalled a spree of four unanswered points for St Farnan's who were showing good intensity.

Captain Matt Lang put them into the lead for the first time on 8 minutes and from here they took over, Paddy O'Connor with a brilliant point from play edged them two in front on 10 minutes, Ciaran O'Connor was unlucky to see his attempt go inches wide on 13 minutes as St Farnan's were more in control on the attack. Devaney and Finnian Cawley were working hard for the west Sligo men as St John's were finding it hard to break through the strong St Farnan's defence.

There were lively passages of play and Paddy O'Connor got his second point on 15 minutes, a brilliant score with his midfield partner Martin Mulligan involved as St Farnan's led by six points to three.

Then the first of the St Farnan's goal chances arrived on 16 minutes, O'Donnell was superb to stop Ciaran O'Connor's attempt which was goal-bound, Shane Neary also involved, as the ball went out for a 45.

Play was stopped for sometime as Harrison was fouled heavily by Lang and the 12-minute spell of St John's not scoring ended from the free, Keane finding McNamara who sent over his second point of the day on 19 minutes.

It was St Farnan's again who scored three unanswered points before the break, Hynes was one on one with O'Donnell and his shot was excellently saved and sailed over, Hynes showing his frustration as he knew a certain goal chance was on.

Stephen Mulligan got another from play for St Farnan's as they led by 0-8 to 0-4 on 23 minutes.

A free on Hynes was converted by Ciaran O'Connor five minutes from the break as down the other end, Rooney, who went on a long solo run was smothered by three St Farnan's players and the west Sligo men defended the attack.

A dangerous long-range ball from Paddy O'Connor loomed close to the St John's goalmouth with the defence sending the attack out of danger as St Farnan's led 0-9 to 0-4 at halftime.

After the resumption, St Farnan's had a chance to edge further in front but the shot sailed wide.

Brian McGowan linked up with Conor Greene who was fouled and Keane stepped up to take the free which bounced off the post, it fell into the arms of Kelly who didn't hesitate in slamming into the back of the St Farnan's net on 32 minutes. Game on as the scoreline read 0-9 to 1-4 in favour of St Farnan's.

St John's had very much arrived, substitute James Murphy was making a big impact, he passed to McNamara who was again excellent for St John's, the half-back was fouled and Rooney converted as only one separated them with 33 minutes played.

This was a much livelier St John's side, and they had their own goal chance with Keane passing to Harrison whose powerful shot slammed off the crossbar, the ball fell back into the possession of St John's and Keane levelled through a free on 35 minutes.

Paddy O'Connor with a brilliant kick got his third point on 36 minutes as they went in front again.

St John's came back with McGowan finding McNamara who was fouled with Oisín Cox levelling again. St John's were gifted possession, Murphy was fouled and Rooney pointed the free, putting them into the lead.

Then Kelly, in lots of space, bounded down on the St Farnan's goal, he pointed putting them two in front on 43 minutes, 1-9 to 0-11.

Neary, Martin Mulligan and Hynes linked up with the latter making it a one point game again on 47 minutes.

St John's came back again with the excellent Murphy scoring one of the points of the game from distance, the blue army cheering loudly as they led 1-10 to 0-11 with ten minutes to go.

Keane then sent over a free from what seemed an impossible angle as a goal separated them with 9 minutes remaining.

Ciaran O'Connor was trying to get another score for St Farnan's, Niall Walsh and Robbie Fahy defended well as the momentum was with St John's.

A foul on Murphy was converted by the impressive Rooney as St John's went four in front on 54 minutes with St Farnan's needing to goal.

Martin Mulligan brought it back to a three-point game on 57 minutes before Keane found McGowan, who had a brilliant second half, he pointed on 60 minutes as four were between them again as injury time approached.

Rooney pointed again a minute later, his fourth, as St John's knew the day was theirs as Senior football beckons. St Farnan's, with their youthful exuberance, will undoubtedly be back again.

ST JOHN'S: N O'Donnell, A Clerkin, C Harrison, E Roche, R Fahy, P McNamara (0-2), D Smith, O Cox (0-1), D Rooney (0-4, 3f), T Kelly (1-1), B McGowan (0-1), C Greene, A Keane (0-4, 3f), F Grennan, S Stenson.

Subs: J Murphy (0-1) for Smith (23), N Walsh for Greene (44), K Sweeney for Grennan (49), N Hayes for Roche (57), C Jordan for Stenson (60).

ST FARNAN'S: S Healy, J Quinn, P Culkin, J Weir, E Kilgannon, M Lang (0-1), C Hallinan, P O'Connor (0-3), M Mulligan (0-2), F Cawley, C O'Connor (0-1, 1f), J Hynes (0-2), S Mulligan (0-2), M Devaney (0-1), S Neary.

Subs: D Hynes for Hallinan (49), K Lang for Devaney (52),

REFEREE: TJ Keaveney.

Sligo Champion