Monday 19 February 2018

McHugh's late effort clinches it for Gerald's

St Gerald's delivered on their pre-match billing of favourites to capture their fifth provincial title against the most successful school in the country.

But the Castlebar college left it late before shooting three points in the closing stages at Flanagan Park in Ballinrobe to deny St Jarlath's a third successive Connacht crown.

St Jarlath's, 12 times Hogan Cup winners but now without an All-Ireland since Michael Meehan inspired them to success in 2002, gave themselves every chance of victory when they trailed by just a point at the break having played against the wind.

A goal from a penalty by full-forward Patrick Madden following a foul on Conor Marsden after 14 minutes left Jarlath's just 0-5 to 1-1 adrift at half-time.

James Durcan shot 0-4 for St Gerald's, two of those points coming from play, and Jake Gannon was also on target, but that tally did not seem to be enough to annex a title they last won in 2010.

However, nine minutes after the restart St Jarlath's midfielder Dara Walsh received a second yellow card and that was to prove crucial.

Mikey Mannion equalised for St Jarlath's but St Gerald's made good of their extra man, with centre-back Michael Hall adopting a useful roving role.

Another Mannion free edged the champions in front before Durcan replied with an equalising free for the Mayo school.

Madden put Jarlath's ahead going into the closing stages but then, after Adam Murphy equalised, St Gerald's hit the front with a point from substitute Jamie Lydon in the final minute.

And St Gerald's clinched their fifth Connacht title when full-back Mark McHugh landed a free from distance in the dying moments of an entertaining encounter.

SCORERS – St Gerald's: J Durcan 0-5 (3f), J Gannon, J Lydon, A Murphy, M McHugh (f) 0-1 each. St Jarlath's: P Madden 1-1 (1-0 pen), M Mannion 0-3f.

St Gerald's – D McHale; K McNally, M McHugh, K Egan; P Durcan, M Hall, C Dravins; R Coleman, E Regan; J Gannon, M Plunkett, S Conlon; R Carolan, A Murphy, J Durcan. Subs: M Ruane for Dravins (29), J Lydon for Regan (45).

St Jarlath's – J Healy; O Morrin, C Reilly, John Donnellan; C Fahy, C Brady, K Molloy; N Daly, D Walsh; T Gleeson, P Mannion, Joseph Donnellan; M Mannion, P Madden, C Marsden.

Subs: J Mannion for Gleeson (26), B Raftery for Joseph Donnellan (45).

Ref – P Neilan (Roscommon).

Irish Independent

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