Sunday 19 November 2017

McGourty helps Gall's go extra mile

Corofin's Michael Farragher battles with Anthony Healy of St Gall's during their AIB All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final in Parnell Park RAY MC MANUS/SPORTSFILE
Corofin's Michael Farragher battles with Anthony Healy of St Gall's during their AIB All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final in Parnell Park RAY MC MANUS/SPORTSFILE

DRAMA ruled at Parnell Park on Saturday night where St Gall's triumphed over a gallant Corofin to clinch their place in the final on St Patrick's Day.

The Northern champions overcame the second-half loss of centre-back Anthony Healy for two yellow-card offences to romp their way into the final after extra-time.

They were restored to 15 men due to that weird rule that allows a team reduced to 14 in normal time get back to full strength in extra-time.

It's a daft concept and that was highlighted when Corofin had Gary Sice sent off in the third minute of extra-time. Sice incurred a second yellow for a tussle with Kevin Niblock.

No problem with the yellow -- but surely if effectively a red card is null and void for extra-time, then previous yellows should also be discarded.

The loss of Sice at such a stage of a physically and mentally draining encounter helped tip the balance in St Gall's favour and they went from being level at 1-9 each at the end of normal time to scoring six more points, while Corofin could only manage two, in that extra 20-minute period.

Conor 'CJ' McGourty was the Gall's hero, scoring 1-9, including eight points from frees, but he refused to take the credit as the emotions of the Belfast team and their supporters overflowed at the end of an exciting evening's football.


The scenes on Saturday were a stark contrast to a fortnight before when St Gall's Intermediate Hurling team lost the All-Ireland final to Kilkenny's St Lachtain's at Croke Park.

CJ McGourty was on that defeated side but Saturday night made up for that setback -- and now he looks forward to atoning for the 2006 All-Ireland football final loss to Salthill-Knocknacarra.

"There were tears in my eyes when we got beaten in 2006 and there's tears in my eyes tonight because we knew we were going back to Croke Park," he said.

"It's motivation but we've got a hell of a task ahead of us. We'll enjoy tonight but Kilmurry are a great team as they showed last week. We've a lot to improve on but if we bring our 'A' game to the table, we can beat them," he said.

Healy's sending-off after 47 minutes, when the score was 1-7 to Gall's and 1-6 to Corofin, could have seriously undermined their challenge, but in the last 16 minutes -- the ref added three extra minutes -- the Belfast boys dug deep.

"We were down to 14 men but I know these boys inside out. I knew they weren't going to give in, and that's what's special about our club," added McGourty.

"We call ourselves brothers, the panel, the supporters, that's what Gall's is all about. We're a family club and I knew we were still going to be there at the end."

Corofin manager Gerry Keane rightly praised his men for their courage and also identified the first-half inaccuracy from good scoring chances which cost the Galway champions dearly.

"It was an incredible game," he said. "I thought in the second half of normal time our lads stood up to the mark and really put in a superb performance.

"Unfortunately it wasn't to be. The work rate of the Gall's guys, their attacking, and their extra men coming forward, we didn't have the answer to that.

"We probably missed too many scores in the first half. We were three points down at half-time and we felt we could have been two or three points up. We paid the price for that in the end," said Keane.

CJ McGourty got the Gall's goal after 14 minutes when he pushed the ball home following good opportunism by Kevin McGourty who blocked down an attempted clearance by Tony Goggins.

Indeed, if Kieran Comer hadn't snatched a goal just before half-time, when he stole in between Gall's keeper Ronan Gallagher and full-back Andrew McClean to punch the ball home, Corofin would have really struggled.

They entered the second half 1-2 to 1-5, a far more healthy prospect than would otherwise have been the case.

Comer's two points and two great scores by Alan O'Donovan levelled the match at 1-7 each after 49 minutes and it was an intense struggle all the way from there.

O'Donovan answered a CJ point to level them again at 1-8 each in the 58th minute, only for McGourty again to put Gall's into the lead a minute later.

In time added on Sice became the Corofin hero when he kicked the equaliser that took the game into extra-time, but once he got his marching orders, the tide turned in Gall's' favour.

Scorers -- St Galls: CJ McGourty 1-9 (0-8f), S Kelly 0-2, Kevin McGourty, Kieran McGourty, P Veronica, S Burke 0-1 each. Corofin: K Comer 1-6 (0-5f), A O'Donovan 0-3 (0-2f), G Sice, D Morris 0-1 each.

St Galls -- Ronan Gallagher; P Veronica, A McClean, C Brady; M Kelly, A Healy, S Kelly; A Gallagher, S Burke; Kevin McGourty, Rory Gallagher, T O'Neill; CJ McGourty, K Niblock, Kieran McGourty. Subs: K Stewart for Rory Gallagher (h-t), S Kennedy (e-t, for A Healy, sent off), M McCrory for S Burke (69), S Burns for T O'Neill (73), C Gallagher for K Niblock (76).

Corofin -- D Morris; K McGrath, K Fitzgerald, C Silke; A Burke, D Burke, G Sice; G Higgins, A Donnellan; M Farragher, J Canney, R Steede; T Goggins, A O'Donovan, K Comer. Subs: S Monaghan for C Silke (h-t), G Delaney for T Goggins (46), K Murphy for A Donnellan (56), J Burke for M Farragher (60), B Power for S Monaghan (70), A Donnellan for S Monaghan (79).

Ref -- C Reilly (Meath).

Irish Independent

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