dublin jun 1 fc semi-final
Over the tram tracks. To McGee Park on the Cookstown Road. A cold, sunny Sunday morning. A big crowd. Nothing like a Championship semi-final to stir the tea.
Man O’War arrived early. Football is what makes the grass grow in the North County.
The car park overflowed. As did the notebook. A Tallaght thriller that went to extra time.
And when it was all over, it’s St Mark’s who will now get measured for the suits for the Go-Ahead Dublin Junior 1 Football Championship final.
They will play Geraldine Moran’s, who defeated Crumlin at Pearse Park in the other semi-final. News of that one was coming over the wires. And by the sound of it – it also fairly crackled.
This one had so many different chapters. Man O’War were in control in the opening pages. They were ahead at the interval, 2-5 to 1-4. It looked like they were going to win comfortably.
Yet, in the second half, Mark’s took over. And it appeared then they had their final ticket in their back pocket.
Only for the visitors to lift themselves again. To find the spark from somewhere that saw them finish normal time on the up. And come within inches of victory.
Extra time it was. The first score in ET is always important. Mark’s got it. And three more after. Man O’War didn’t score in the extra time.
Patrick Murphy summed it up best. He played a stormer for the hosts. He covered every inch of the turf.
“It was such an up-and-down game,” he said. “Highs and lows. We lost it. We won it. We lost it again. Before we eventually won it.”
If the final is half as good a contest as this, the petrol money will certainly be worth it.
From the off, it had an electric tempo. Nobody was parking any buses.
People out for a Sunday stroll stopped to look in over the railings.
Man O’War defended the clubhouse end in the first half. The cultured left boot of their centre half-forward, Willie Moore, brought the first score of the day from a free inside the opening minute.
But, seconds later, Mark’s had a goal. A confident finish from Luke Doyle.
Just after the water break, Man O’War struck for their first goal. Fintan McCloskey playing in Seán Hussey for a tidy strike.
Man O’War were impressive on the counter. They had pace in the laces.
And coming to half-time, they had their second goal when, on this occasion, Hussey opened the gate for McCloskey.
Mark’s began the second half sharply. Mark O’Meara’s 36th-minute goal filled their lungs. They surged clear. They were six points ahead coming to the bell.
Then, on 56 minutes, Man O’War won a penalty. Which Moore slotted away with conviction.
That was the tonic they needed. And they hit the last three points of the half. Moore contributed two of them, before the full-back, Anto Kelly, sent the tie to extra time.
The momentum was very much with Man O’War. And after they equalised, they poured forward in search of the winner. Mark’s had some serious defending to do. Yet in extra time, the home club found their third wind.
Three minutes into its first period, the excellent Kearns played a pass out wide to the right to Joseph Cannon. “What a ball,” said a voice on the line. Joseph curled a beauty over the bar.
The accomplished Kearns added a free, Luke Doyle ticked on a point, and at half-time in extra time it was Mark’s ahead by three points 2-14 to 3-8.
And when O’Meara, on the left at the clubhouse end, put them four in front seconds from time, the cheers carried all the way down the Belgard Road. Handshakes all round at the close. No complaints from Man O’War. But deep disappointment for sure on their long journey home.Yet with the consolation that had played their part in such a memorable game.
SCORERS – ST MARK’S: L Doyle, M O’Meara 1-1 each, D Kearns 0-4 (3f), D McCann, J Cannon, P Murphy (1f) 0-2 each, D Glynn, R Glynn, E Doyle 0-1 each. MAN O’WAR: W Moore 1-3 (1-0 pen, 0-2f), S Hussey 1-2 (0-1f), F McCloskey 1-1, A Kelly, S Clancy 0-1 each.
ST MARK’S: M Kavanagh; G Kett, C Hurley, D Kavanagh; D McCann, J Cannon, G Whelan; S Galvin, L Doyle; D Glynn, D Kearns, R Glynn; P Murphy, W Crosbie, J Phillips. SUBS ON: M O’Meara, E Doyle, A Jacob, C Moonan.
MAN O’WAR: K Fleming; N Hughes, A Kelly, B McKiernan; M Cassin, A Cunningham, C Morrissey; J Fleming, S Clancy; F Cassin, W Moore, S Hussey; K O’Neill, F McCloskey, D O’Hara. SUBS ON: J Mooney, J Downes, J McGlynn, C Dolan, C Duffy.
MENTORS – ST MARK’S: F McCann. MAN O’WAR: P Dolan, C Moore, D Crowley, M McKiernan, D Sheridan, G Moore.
REFEREE: Philip Fitzsimons (Commercials).
WIDES – ST MARK’S: 4; MAN O’WAR: 9.
CONDITIONS: Chilly, bright and breezy.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Patrick Murphy (St Mark’s).