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All Ireland Senior Club Football Championship Final Replay (31 March, 2012) 



A bridge too far for Garrycastle to Cross' this time

Garrycastle 1-7 Crossmaglen Rangers 2-19

"Crossmaglen Rangers don't do second chances," their poker-faced joint-manager, Tony McEntee stated in the aftermath of his side's utterly comprehensive defeat of Garrycastle in the All-Ireland club senior football final replay at Kingspan Breffni Park on Saturday evening.

In truth, this chilling statement neatly summed up what was a very disappointing encounter from the perspective of both Westmeath Gaels and neutrals in the crowd of almost 10,000 in Cavan, as there was never the possibility of a replication of the thrilling draw witnessed in Croke Park on St Patrick's Day.

A fortnight earlier, the superb Westmeath champions let a significant lead slip but, this time round, the Armagh men, overwhelmed Garrycastle with a stunning display, anchored by two first-half goals from full-forward Francis Hanratty.

Even before the throw-in, Crossmaglen set down a marker when jostling the underdogs off the bench in what seemed to be a definite discourtesy and aggressive tactic to psyche out Anthony Cunningham's charges at the bench provided for the pre-match photographs.

Hanratty's first goal came as early as the fifth minute, following a clever interchange of passes with Jamie Clarke. The second arrived after a trademark run from defence by Aaron Kernan, who had recovered fully from a knock from an opponent at the end of the pre-match parade some 13 minutes later.

The latter's brother, Stephen (who scored three classy points as the game progressed, following his return from suspension) could have been forgiven for preparing his cup acceptance speech at that juncture, despite the usual excellence from Des Dolan at the other end.

Crossmaglen deservedly led by ten points at the break, but Garrycastle briefly threatened a comeback when Gary Dolan goaled within two minutes of the restart, having received a sublime pass from his older brother, Des. A point ensued from substitute Conor Cosgrove (the last-ditch hero of their Leinster final win) from a difficult free.

However, Crossmaglen simply clicked into another gear and a sixth crown was garnered with a string of brilliantly taken points from a range of players. Indeed, the aforementioned McEntee and Gareth O'Neill (whose cousin, Charlie had been buried that morning, thereby meriting a minute's silence before the National Anthem) took the opportunity to take off some key players and have them accorded standing ovations. The loudest of these came in the 58th minute when Oisín McConville, who has started all six finals won by the Armagh men since 1997, was given a rapturous reception having scored six points (four from play) in a typically-superb display.

A Des Dolan free opened the scoring in the second minute, but the men in the distinctive black and amber stripes took a lead they never looked remotely likely to relinquish a few minutes later, Francis Hanratty finding the net in style and Oisín McConville quickly increased this advantage with a neat point.

Des Dolan, already the subject of close scrutiny from the Cross' defence, doubled his tally after a quickly-taken free, but the Ulster champions rattled over a brace of well-taken points by the quarter-hour mark, via Jamie Clarke and Tony Kernan. A terrific left-footed point by Des Dolan, availing of good work by his cousin James, left the deficit at a goal, but Francis Hanratty doubled his goal tally in the 18th minute, despite Mark McCallon's best efforts on the goal-line.

The latter player soon took his eye off the ball in an attacking role after Des Dolan superbly picked him out, before David O'Shaughnessy's fisted cross near the Crossmaglen goalmouth was not reached by any of his team-mates.

A rampant Rangers outfit swiftly added four unanswered points, courtesy of Aaron Cunningham, Johnny Hanratty and Oisin McConville (two - the first from a free). In added-time, David O'Shaughnessy (a monster free) and McConville (a routine free) traded points and the half-time scoreboard made grim reading for the throngs supporting the men in green and red: Crossmaglen Rangers 2-8 Garrycastle 0-4.

Miracles were called for on the change of ends and briefly it looked like they might come Garrycastle's way with the aforementioned 1-1 from Gary Dolan (goal) and half-time sub, Conor Cosgrove (point) leaving the margin at six points.

However, that was as good as it got for the Leinster standard-bearers who were more or less totally outplayed from there on in. Crossmaglen 'won' the next 20 minutes by nine points to one, during which another converted free from Conor Cosgrove (39th minute) was the losers' only response to a barrage of Cross' points, many of them of the very highest quality.

Their scores during this period of glittering football came from Aaron Kernan (two - a difficult left-footed free and a lovely score from play), his brother Stephen (three), Oisín McConville (two - both marvellous scores), with Francis Hanratty (40th minute) Aaron Cunningham (47th minute) also finding the range.

A clever free from Des Dolan to Patrick Mulvihill failed to yield a score and it was left to Conor Cosgrove to kick Garrycastle's consolation point from a free in the 55th minute. However, Kyle Carragher (who appeared to have a goal on his mind) and Aaron Kernan (a tap-over free) wrapped up the scoring with late points.

And so it was Stephen Kernan (and not John Gaffey, as so many outside of Crossmaglen had hoped) who was the very worthy post-match recipient of the Andy Merrigan Cup from GAA Director General, Paraic Duffy.

Not even the most blinkered Garrycastle man would dream of denying that by far the better team had won on the day. And Tony McEntee's post-match briefing left all reporters in no doubt that they want many more trophies. It will take quite some team to stop them from matching Nemo Rangers' seven All-Ireland titles in 2012/13.

Scorers Crossmaglen Rangers: F Hanratty 2-1, O McConville 0-6 (2f), A Kernan (2f) and S Kernan 0-3 each, A Cunningham 0-2, T Kernan, J Hanratty, K Carragher and J Clarke 0-1 each.

Garrycastle: G Dolan 1-0, D Dolan (1f) and C Cosgrove (3f) 0-3 each, D O'Shaughnessy (f) 0-1.

Crossmaglen Rangers: Paul Hearty; Paul McKeown, Paul Kernan, James Morgan; Danny O'Callaghan, Aaron Kernan, Stephen Finnegan; Johnny Hanratty, David McKenna; Stephen Kernan, Tony Kernan, Aaron Cunningham; Jamie Clarke, Francis Hanratty, Oisin McConville. Subs: Michael McNamee for F. Hanratty (41 mins), Martin Aherne for T. Kernan (41), Kyle Carragher for Cunningham (50), Garbhan Carragher for P. Kernan (inj., 52), Kyle Brennan for McConville (58).

Garrycastle: Cathal Mullin; Enda Mulvihill, John Gaffey, Mark McCallon; Karl Henson, Doron Harte, Tom McHugh; Seanie O'Donoghue, David O'Shaughnessy; Paul Dillon, Paddy Mulvihill, James Dolan; James Duignan, Gary Dolan, Des Dolan. Subs: Alan Fox for McHugh (24 mins), Aidan Browne for Duignan (26), Conor Cosgrove for Henson (h/t), John O'Shaughnessy for E. Mulvihill (50).

Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo).

Published in the Westmeath Independent on Wednesday, 4th April, 2012 and reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Independent.


All Ireland Senior Club Football Championship Final (17 March 2012)


'Castle survive late onslaught to fight another day

Garrycastle 1-12 Crossmaglen Rangers 0-15

After 60 plus minutes of football in Croke Park last Saturday that had every ingredient which the 25,412 spectators could hope for, Garrycastle and Crossmaglen Rangers will have to meet again to decide whether the Andy Merrigan Cup will reside in Westmeath or Armagh for the next twelve months.

This was a heart-stopping match and a wonderful advertisement for Gaelic football in an era when many traditionalists bemoan the dearth of good old-fashioned contests - with an emphasis on catching, kicking, tough but fair challenges (in the main), high-quality scores, near-misses and wholehearted endeavour way beyond the call of duty for entirely amateur players.

Garrycastle led by four points at half-time and by five points with 20 minutes to go, but the Armagh champions characteristically battled back to secure a replay. While, in the end, a draw was an eminently fair result, the return bus and car journeys northward are likely to have been quieter affairs than those westward, with the five-time champions spurning a couple of late chances when almost totally dominating the exchanges.

Throw in a very fortunate escape for Paul Dillon early in the game, a missed goal opportunity from livewire corner-forward, Jamie Clarke at a crucial juncture and it may seem that Lady Luck smiled inordinately on the Shannnonsiders on St Patrick's Day.

However, Garrycastle also hit the woodwork twice and their ultra-confident approach to the game belied their status as rank outsiders. The odds will be significantly shorter about Anthony Cunningham's men for the replay, the Galwegian needing to 'double-job' for another ten days (at least) as his magnificent troops in green and red plan another assault on the Holy Grail of club football.

The rematch will be eagerly awaited by all football lovers, when the Orchard County men will be even stronger given the return from suspension of their captain, Stephen Kernan.

Clearly showing no signs of stage fright, Garrycastle, who had whatever benefit was accruing from the wind blowing towards the canal end of GAA headquarters, started the game strongly and took the lead through a Des Dolan 25-metre free in the second minute, quickly followed by another score from his cousin James (when teed up cleverly by Des).

The very impressive Jamie Clarke responded with a fine score for Crossmaglen, before many Westmeath hearts almost stopped when it looked certain that Paul Dillon would be taking an early shower, but his altercation with Brendan McKeown was deemed just a yellow card offence by the referee. James Duignan (who had a great first half) and Tony Kernan traded points, as did Des Dolan and Aaron Kernan (both classy scores).

The latter player (in particular) and his Crossmaglen colleagues were beginning to open up some gaps in the Garrycastle defence and, on 12 minutes, it took typically alert goalkeeping from Cathal Mullin to deny Tony Kernan a goal chance, a save which prompted a counterattack ending in a converted free by Paul Dillon. Oisín McConville and Des Dolan exchanged points from frees before Jamie Clarke reduced the gap to one again with a marvellous individual point.

In the 21st minute, a sideline kick from Seanie O'Donoghue was not cleared by the Crossmaglen defence and the ball fell to Patrick Mulvihill, whose low shot flew past Paul Hearty.

An opportunist point from Jamie Clarke reduced the margin to a goal (1-6 to 0-6), but James Dolan and Aidan Browne (a blood sub for O'Donoghue) added to the green and reds' total. Michael McNamee's late point for the Ulster men left the score at the interval reading: Garrycastle 1-8 Crossmaglen Rangers 0-7.

Six minutes into the second half, Tom McHugh picked up his second yellow card for a challenge on Jamie Clarke and Oisín McConville tapped over the resultant free. Two converted frees by Des Dolan made it 1-10 to 0-8 for the 9/2 outsiders, with full-back Paul Kernan picking up a second yellow of his own for a foul on Gary Dolan prior to the second free.

However, Crossmaglen are justifiably renowned for their never-say-die spirit and the remaining Kernan brothers, Aaron and Tony, kicked a point apiece, sandwiched between which Jamie Clarke's close-range effort came off the post followed by a suspicion of a handball offence by a Garrycastle defender near the goal line.

Crossmaglen were beginning to dominate and three points, all from Oisín McConville (two from frees), between the 46th and 49th minutes brought his side level and seemingly heading for a sixth crown.

But Garrycastle are renowned battlers themselves and a Des Dolan free (after he had been fouled) and a point from play by Mulvihill (who wisely opted not to try for a goal) looked like they would be the clinching scores.

Seven minutes remained and, in truth, they proved very uncomfortable viewing for Garrycastle supporters as Tony McEntee's men utterly monopolised possession in and around midfield. Another McConville free and a tremendous point from David McKenna tied up the scoring.

However, Garrycastle rode their luck in a tense climax as the Orchard County men untypically wasted match-winning chances, the most blatant being a slapped goal chance wide of the post by Jamie Clarke just yards from goal. Two minutes' added-time failed to yield a winner and a pulsating contest had ended all square.

Scorers - Garrycastle: D Dolan 0-6 (5f), P Mulvihill 1-1, J Dolan 0-2, J Duignan, P Dillon and A Browne 0-1 each. Crossmaglen Rangers: O McConville 0-6 (5f), J Clarke 0-3, T Kernan and A Kernan 0-2 each, M McNamee and D McKenna 0-1 each.

Garrycastle: Cathal Mullin; Enda Mulvihill, John Gaffey, Mark McCallon; Tom McHugh, Doron Harte, Karl Henson; Seanie O'Donoghue, David O'Shaughnessy; Paul Dillon, Patrick Mulvihill, Gary Dolan; James Duignan, James Dolan, Des Dolan. Subs used: Aidan Browne (blood sub), for O'Donoghue (27 mins), Rory McGowan for Duignan (43), Aidan Browne for G. Dolan (46), Alan Fox for Henson (49), Alan Daly for Dillon (56).

Crossmaglen Rangers: Paul Hearty; James Morgan, Paul Kernan, Paul McKeown; Aaron Kernan, Danny O'Callaghan, Brendan McKeown; Johnny Hanratty, David McKenna; Aaron Cunningham, Tony Kernan, Michael McNamee; Jamie Clarke, Kyle Brennan, Oisín McConville. Subs used: Stephen Finnegan for B. McKeown (inj,, 24), Kyle Carragher for Brennan (29), Martin Aherne for McNamee (51), Francis Hanratty for Carragher (56).

Referee: Rory Hickey (Clare).

Published in the Westmeath Independent on Wednesday, 21st March, 2012 and reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Independent.


All Ireland Senior Club Football Championship Semi-Final (18 February, 2012)




Kings of the 'Castle edge out Brigid's to reach first All-Ireland decider

by Sean Guinan

Garrycastle 1-11 St Brigid's 1-9

A fiercely committed Garrycastle squad - showing unfathomable depths of self-belief and determination even when reduced to 14 men - took the notable scalp of favourites St Brigid's to book a deserved place in the All-Ireland final against holders Crossmaglen Rangers on St Patrick's Day.

Last Saturday's semi-final victory at ice-cold, breezy and showery Pearse Park is the culmination of a truly remarkable run for a Shannonside club who only saw the light of day in 1981. Having taken their sixth Westmeath SF crown in 2011, they went on to break the provincial barrier for the first time and are now on the cusp of the greatest honour in club football - the Andy Merrigan Cup.

Garrycastle's victory simultaneously gives Westmeath football a tremendous fillip. Even if certain aspects of the team's first-half performance on Saturday were not pretty (8 yellow cards were doled out by referee Joe McQuillan), they displayed raw courage to overcome the handicap of being a man short for most of the last quarter against a team of St Brigid's proven resilience.

Pre-match punditry had installed the Roscommon and Connacht kingpins as money-on favourites but, aided by a significant wind blowing diagonally into the corner of the goal, Anthony Cunningham's men made a dream start, ticking all the right boxes to storm into a 3-point lead in as many minutes. Dessie Dolan, as he has so often done in the past, was the fulcrum of nearly all their attacking moves, making the road for the opening brace - the first after 30 seconds by James Dolan and the second on two minutes by Paul Dillon.

With listed full-forward Patrick Mulvihill deployed as a third midfielder, the third point signalled the upcoming success of this tactic when, following a fine clearance by corner-back Tom McHugh, Patrick was the link man to place James Duignan for point No. 3.

This wasn't in the pre-match script, but long experience has taught Noel O'Brien's charges not to press the panic button in such instances.

With Niall Grehan emerging as a tower of strength at right half-back, the Kiltoom/Cam side responded as only they can. Senan Kilbride placed Cathal McHugh for their opening point on nine minutes, with the same players switching roles for a similar score two minutes later.

An unwelcome trend then entered the game with a series of cynical off-the-ball fouls keeping referee Joe McQuillan on his toes as he issued the first of his eight (opening half) yellow cards, all to Garrycastle. As well as performing his defensive duties with aplomb, Niall Grehan, following good work by Darren Dolan, soloed forward to split the uprights for a 16th-minute equaliser.

Another Dessie Dolan special edged 'Castle back in front but a Brigid's move involving Senan Kilbride, Eoin Sheehy and Cathal McHugh saw the latter earn a 20th minute penalty, with Karol Mannion clinically converting the spotkick.

Undeterred, back came Garrycastle strongly. Midfielder Seanie O'Donoghue placed Dessie for another trademark point and the sides were level again when the impressive Tom McHugh tore upfield to place Gary Dolan for the equaliser. Conor McHugh and Dessie Dolan (free) exchanged points, but, in time added-on, Brigid's finished the half strongly. Firstly, Garvan and Frankie Dolan combined to sent Senan Kilbride away for a fine point and, just on the short whistle, Eoin Sheehy worked hard to find the opening for attacking half-back Ian Kilbride to edge his side two points clear (1-6 to 0-7).

A brief melee ensued as the teams were leaving the field which saw Garrycastle's Patrick Mulvihill yellow-carded before the second half got underway, but thankfully order was swiftly restored.

That impressive St Brigid's surge would have instilled renewed hope among their followers in the crowd of around 6,000 at the change of ends, with wind advantage now on their side in the biting cold elements. The opposite, however, turned out to be the case as the team from east of the Shannon made a definitive statement of intent, simultaneously taking a huge step towards Croke Park on St Patrick's Day.

Garrycastle surprisingly replaced Tom McHugh just minutes in, with Alan Fox coming on, but the sub quickly drew the free punished by Dessie Dolan.

Now came the key score of the semi-final; the indefatigable Patrick Mulvihill again won possession at midfield, driving forward to James Dolan, whose rocket-like missile beat Brigid's goalie James Martin (37th minute).

Inspired by this master strike, the Westmeath side surged forward, forcing two further frees, both converted impressively by Dessie Dolan. Thus, an unanswered 1-3 conferred a four-point lead on 'Castle. They would not go into arrears again in this local derby.

Mullin denies Kilbride

As Brigid's manfully tried to respond, Ian Kilbride almost found the net, with Cathal Mullin touching the ball onto the post and out for a fruitless '45'.

Garrycastle lost midfielder David O'Shaughnessy (second yellow card), and Brigid's did cut the deficit to two points - Senan Kilbride punished a foul on Karol Mannion (47th minute) followed, remarkably, by Frankie Dolan's only score of the afternoon, a pointed free.

A tense encounter could now go either way, but 'Castle missed two opportunities of scores, firstly as Dessie's effort for a point came off the upright and then a gilt-edged goal chance was fluffed. Gary Dolan fielded brilliantly from a kick-out and punted onward to Dessie, whose defence splitting pass was then blazed wide by the in-rushing Gary.

Brigid's, relieved at this let-off, renewed their attack, and were rewarded when a terrific point by Cathal McHugh made it a one-point game. With four minutes of normal time left, could they snatch victory or force extra-time? Play fluctuated to and fro as the minutes ran down. We had entered added time when the Brigid's goalie came out to clear a speculative 'Castle attack, but he was adjudged to have picked the ball off the ground outside the area, and up stepped Dessie to tap the resultant free over the bar.

The Roscommon men got the ball upfield, but the Garrycastle defence stood firm in the face of this late, late attack, earning a free-out, quickly followed by the final whistle.

An insatiable hunger for victory had won the day for a Garrycastle brigade who were prepared to leave it all out on the exquisite Pearse Park sod in search of the Holy Grail. True, the spoils of success could have gone the other way in those white-hot closing stages, but Brigid's strangely went crucial periods where their traditional relentless all-action style and ball winning ability were notably absent, particularly in the early stages of both halves. In these spells, the victors posted 1-6 of their 1-11 total. Garrycastle sowed the seeds of deserved victory then, but Brigid's, nonetheless, on their record to date, can walk tall and owe nothing to anyone.

Scorers - Garrycastle: D Dolan 0-7 (5f), J Dolan 1-1, P Dillon, J Duignan and G Dolan 0-1 each.

St Brigid's: S Kilbride 0-3 (1f), K Mannion 1-0pen, Cathal McHugh 0-2, N Grehan, Conor McHugh, I Kilbride and F Dolan (f) 0-1 each.

Garrycastle: Cathal Mullin, Mark McCallon, John Gaffey (capt), Tom McHugh, Karl Henson, Doron Harte, Enda Mulvihill, Seanie O'Donoghue, David O'Shaughnessy, Paul Dillon, Dessie Dolan, James Dolan, Gary Dolan, Patrick Mulvihill, James Duignan. Subs: Alan Fox for McHugh (34); Aidan Browne for Duignan (48); Conor Cosgrove for Dillon (50); Alan Daly for G Dolan (56).

St Brigid's: James Martin, Robbie Kelly, Darragh Donnelly (capt), Gearoid Cunniffe, Niall Grehan, Peter Domican, Ian Kilbride, Karol Mannion, Garvan Dolan, Darren Dolan, Cathal McHugh, Eoin Sheehy, Frankie Dolan, Senan Kilbride, Conor McHugh. Subs: John Murray for R Kelly (40); Padraig Kelly for Sheehy (54); Damien Kelleher for D Dolan (56).

Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).

Published in the Westmeath Independent on Wednesday, 22nd February, 2012 and reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Independent



Leinster Senior Club Football Championship Final (18 December, 2011)


Cosgrove the unlikely hero as Garrycastle make history

Garrycastle 1-8 St Brigid's 0-10

In Tullamore last Sunday, there were Santa Clauses aplenty in S Brigid's red and white, and almost as many elves in Garrycastle's green and red.

But the Christmas present all spectators in O'Connor Park wanted will be placed under a Westmeath tree for the first time ever this festive season, after Anthony Cunningham's little helpers emerged victorious in a memorable Leinster senior football club final in truly dramatic circumstances.

The historic victory makes Sunday, 18 December 2011 a red-letter day in the annals of Gaelic games in the Lake County.

This was almost the ultimate game of two halves, but more a game of two quarters and one quarter. Garrycastle, inspired by the majestic Des Dolan and helped by a typically opportunist goal from his brother Gary, looked home and hosed when leading by 1-7 to 0-2 after 39 minutes.

However, with Des's opposite number, Paddy Andrews showing his undoubted class at the other end, the metropolitans rattled over eight unanswered points in a blistering 20-minute period to tie up the scoring.

Then, with the one minute injury-time stipulated virtually up, a late challenge on Mark McCallon gave Conor Cosgrove (only on the field for seven minutes at that juncture) the chance to write his name in Christmas lights, and his deadly left boot replicated Stephen Cluxton some three months earlier to secure a truly magnificent win for the Athlone-based side.

On a cold but generally ideal day for football, O'Connor Park looked resplendent for this showpiece occasion. Garrycastle fans - in the minority it seemed - were wondering whether an inept showing similar to the final against Portlaoise two years previously would ensue, but a wonderful wind-assisted opening half-hour was to follow.

Des Dolan opened the scoring with a terrific 35-metre free in the opening minute after his cousin James was fouled. Ken Darcy levelled from a simple free in the third minute - remarkably the hotly-fancied Dubliners' only score of the first moiety.

With Des Dolan at his imperious best, Garrycastle took control in virtually every sector of the pitch and he rifled over a brace of marvellous points in the fourth and ninth minutes, sandwiched between which Rory McGowan almost set up Paddy Mulvihill for a goalscoring opportunity.

Worryingly, two Garrycastle defenders - Doran Harte and Karl Henson - were already on yellow cards but, further forward, Des Dolan was tormenting the St Brigid's rearguard and he added another outstanding point which was quickly followed by a neat score from Karl Henson, following one of many astute quick frees by James Duignan.

John Gaffey produced a great block on Paddy Andrews before a great crossfield pass by Des Dolan to Seanie O'Donoghue almost led to a Gary Dolan goal. The latter was soon on the scoresheet with a composed finish to put Garrycastle ahead by an unflattering five-point margin after 20 minutes. Neither team scored in the time remaining in the first half, albeit the winners were fortunate more than once. In the 25th minute, Philly Ryan's angled shot came back off the upright and the ball fell kindly for Ken Darcy, but he was smothered by a combination of Cathal Mullin and Seanie O'Donoghue. Late on, both Mark Cahill and Ken Darcy (in particular) missed what seemed like straightforward frees, leaving the scoreboard at the interval reading: Garrycastle 0-6 St. Brigid's 0-1.

Paddy Andrews reduced the gap with a fine point in the 33rd minute, but Des Dolan responded with a fabulous point from 40 metres, moments after he had needed treatment having been flattened near the stand sideline.

Garrycastle goal

Philly Ryan was wide under pressure in an attempt to score a goal, but Gary Dolan fared better at the other end when he astutely flicked the ball to the net from the edge of the small square at the end of a James Duignan delivery. The Westmeath men now led by 1-7 to 0-2 and it would not have been unreasonable for John Gaffey to start rehearsing the traditional cúpla focail.

However, with Paddy Andrews in the thick of most what was good, the Dublin side slowly but surely whittled away at the eight-point deficit. A Ken Darcy free (which went over via the woodwork) in the 41st minute was followed a tidy point from Laois man, John O'Loughlin.

John Gaffey did extremely well to block Ken Darcy's shot for a goal and a brief skirmish soon resulted in just a yellow card to a player from both teams, the linesman nearer the incident surprisingly not taking part in discussions with the referee. Andrews was now on fire and he rifled over four further points between the 46th and 50th minutes - a free and three terrific scores from open play. The gap was now a mere two points and when John O'Loughlin doubled his tally in the 51st minute, it was down to the bare minimum.

Garrycastle nerves were clearly fraught at this stage, with even Des Dolan making the occasional error and the momentum was totally with the pre-match favourites. Ken Darcy was wide from a difficult free, but with exactly 30 minutes elapsed in the second half, Paddy Andrews fittingly picked out substitute Gavin McIntyre who pointed in style.

Extra-time now seemed a certainty, but the drama was not over just yet and when referee Syl Doyle spotted a late challenge on Mark McCallon (which most spectators didn't), Conor Cosgrove showed nerves of steel to convert a very tricky 35-metre free.

Almost immediately, the Wexford official blew the full-time whistle signalling a mass invasion of elves and other delirious fans in green and red colours.

Moments later, John Gaffey became the first-ever Westmeath recipient of the Leinster senior club football trophy when he accepted it from provincial chairman, Martin Skelly. His gracious speech - even taking time to remember the late 'Poggy' Lynn and Derek Daly (brother of Garrycastle player Alan Daly) - was a fitting climax to a never-to-be-forgotten day.

Scorers - Garrycastle: D Dolan 0-5 (1 free), G Dolan 1-1, K Henson and C Cosgrove (free) 0-1 each. St. Brigid's: P Andrews 0-5 (1 free), J O'Loughlin and K Darcy (2 frees) 0-2 each, G McIntyre 0-1.

Garrycastle: Cathal Mullin; Enda Mulvihill, John Gaffey, Mark McCallon; Karl Henson, Doran Harte, Tom McHugh; Seanie O'Donoghue, David O'Shaughnessy; James Duignan, Gary Dolan, Rory McGowan; Paddy Mulvihill, James Dolan, Des Dolan. Subs: Alan Fox for McHugh (45), Aidan Browne for Duignan (51), Conor Cosgrove for P.Mulvihill (54), Alan Daly for McGowan (55).

St. Brigid's: Shane Supple; Graham Norton, Martin Cahill, Gavin Kane; Alan Daly, Sean Murray, Daire Plunkett; John O'Loughlin, Barry Cahill; Cian Mullins, Paddy Andrews, Ken Kilmurray; Philly Ryan, Ken Darcy, Mark Cahill. Subs: Gavin McIntyre for Mark Cahill (42), Lorcan McCarthy for Ryan (47), Odhran McCann for Mullins (59).

Referee: Syl Doyle (Wexford).

Published in the Westmeath Independent on December 21st 2011 and reproduced by kind permission of the 
Westmeath Independent




Shay Murtagh Senior Football Championship Final Replay (23 October, 2011)


Garrycastle claim treble as superb second half seals third title in a row

Garrycastle 1-9 Mullingar Shamrocks 0-9

Garrycastle won their first ever hat-trick of Westmeath senior football titles in appalling weather at Cusack Park on Sunday afternoon last.

However, this three-point defeat for Mullingar Shamrocks in the replay of the county final is likely to haunt them for many a long day, having failed to score in the entire second half after being the better side in the opening half-hour.

Just over 1,500 fans turned up on a truly miserable day, but they were still treated to a fine contest.
The underdogs from Mullingar played some outstanding football in the first half and were well worth their three-point interval lead, despite conceding a somewhat soft goal to James Duignan in the fourth minute.

On the change of ends, a heavy challenge on the influential Darragh Daly, which went unpunished, proved to be a turning point as the promising Shamrocks midfielder eventually had to be replaced.

This allowed former Westmeath stars, Seanie O'Donoghue and David O'Shaughnessy to take control of the midfield area and their influence set up a range of opportunities for the forwards, where Dessie Dolan led the way in the scoring stakes yet again.

In the end, Garrycastle's big match cuteness proved crucial and the 11-year wait for the Flanagan Cup to return to Mullingar will be extended by at least another year.

Ironically, all six county senior titles won by the men in green and red have come in the intervening period - in what has been a remarkable spell of success for the Athlone club.

Seldom has the Lake County's football showpiece being played in such atrocious weather - ironically, Shamrocks' last win in 2000 was a notable exception. But those who braved the elements were treated to a fine contest, after the formalities of Denise Fulham singing Amhrán na bhFiann accompanied by Mullingar Town Band.

After Des Dolan was wide under pressure for the champions, Mullingar Shamrocks settled in style and were rewarded with well-taken points from half-back Micheal Curley and Simon Quinn in the second and third minutes respectively.

Anthony Cunningham's charges then took the lead against the run of play when Patrick Mulvihill picked out James Duignan, whose dipping shot - perhaps going for a point - went all the way to the back of the net.

Des Dolan added a point from play and, with the teams producing four scores in the opening five minutes, they were serving up highly commendable entertainment given the atrocious conditions,.

Regular goalie, Cathal Mullin (who missed the drawn match due to a vacation in New Zealand) showed his importance to the side when he got down well to keep out Darragh Daly's daisy-cutter.

Philip Shaw - whose handling was less assured throughout than his opposite number - soon converted a '45', which was then cancelled out by a Des Dolan free from 35 metres.

Ray Smyth's men proceeded to take control of the game and rattled over three great points between the 13th and 21st minutes, one each from the manager's sons Aonghus and Lorcan (a free), sandwiched between which Denis Corroon hit a great score, albeit in a counterattack after Patrick Mulvihill appeared to be impeded.

Rory McGowan equalised with a fisted point, but the men in green and white finished the half strongly with three further unanswered points, courtesy of Simon Quinn and Aonghus Smyth (both rounding off flowing moves), and Darragh Daly (a great score from a tight angle).

With team captain Kieran Gavin excelling in defence and the scoreboard at the interval reading, Mullingar Shamrocks 0-9 Garrycastle 1-3, there was genuine optimism among the local fans that the inordinate wait for a senior crown would be over come around 4.45pm.

Garrycastle started the second moiety in impressive style with overlapping centre half-back Doran Harte shooting a composed point in the 34th minute.

Philip Shaw did well to keep out Rory McGowan's effort and substitute Gary Dolan was unable to score from the rebound.
The latter's brother, marquee Westmeath forward, Des converted a 35-metre free to reduce the deficit to the bare minimum before a clearly injured Darragh Daly had to leave the field, thereby dealing a major body blow to the challengers.

Garrycastle defender Karl Henson produced a great block to thwart Simon Quinn as the underdogs struggled to add to their tally.

An overly-ambitious goal attempt by Paul Dillon which tailed off wide looked like it might prove costly, but the winners were soon on level terms, a handling error by Philip Shaw gifting Des Dolan a point from the resultant free.

Shamrocks' substitute Cillian Daly was wide under pressure before Garrycastle took a lead they would never relinquish, Des Dolan again converting a free after a late challenge was spotted by referee Pat Fox.

Another error by Philip Shaw handed Dolan his sixth point from his fifth successful free with six minutes of normal time remaining.

A minimum period of four minutes' injury-time was signalled and Gary Dolan had a case for a penalty in the first of these, but play was waved on.

Shamrocks went all out in search of a goal, but a loose pass from substitute Paul Christie was indicative of the panic in their ranks at this late juncture.

With the stipulated added-time elapsed, the outstanding Seanie O'Donoghue fittingly sealed Garrycastle's hat-trick with a splendid point from 35 metres. After the match, the chairman of the Westmeath GAA County Board, Tom Farrell presented the Flanagan Cup to the victorious Garrycastle captain, John Gaffey.

Scorers: Garrycastle: D Dolan 0-6 (5 frees), J Duignan 1-0, D Harte, S O'Donoghue and R McGowan 0-1 each. Mullingar Shamrocks: A Smyth and S Quinn 0-2 each, M Curley, D Daly, L Smyth (free), P Shaw (45') and D Corroon 0-1 each.

Garrycastle: Cathal Mullin; Mark McCallon, John Gaffey (capt.), Alan Fox; Karl Henson, Doran Harte, Enda Mulvihill; Seanie O'Donoghue, David O'Shaughnessy; Paul Dillon, James Duignan, Rory McGowan; Des Dolan, James Dolan, Paddy Mulvihill. Subs: Gary Dolan for Fox (half-time), Conor Cosgrove for Duignan (42 mins), Alan Daly for Dillon (45), Justin McAteer for McGowan (52), Eoin Monaghan for Daly (60 + 1).

Mullingar Shamrocks: Philip Shaw; David Miller, Kieran Gavin (capt.), Eddie Moore; David Gavin, Micheal Curley, Aaron Purcell; Darragh Daly, Donal O'Donoghue; Anthony Clinton, Denis Corroon, Aonghus Smyth; Fiachra Spellman, Lorcan Smyth, Simon Quinn. Subs: Ciaran Curley for Daly (inj., 42 mins), Cillian Daly for Clinton (45), Cian O'Leary for Quinn (47), Paddy Joyce for Purcell (inj., 58), Paul Christie for Miller (inj., 60 + 3).

Referee: Pat Fox (Rosemount).

Published in the Westmeath Independent on October 26th 2011 and reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Independent.




Annebrook House Hotel Junior Football Championship Final (7 October, 2011)


Superb McAteer strike drives Garrycastle to junior crown


Garrycastle 2-7 St Paul's 1-7


A tremendous strike in the 43rd minute from their marquee sub, Justin McAteer propelled Garrycastle to their first Westmeath junior football title in 18 years when they edged out a gallant St Paul's outfit by a goal in Cusack Park last Saturday.

The fare on offer was far from riveting but the men in green and red had a useful combination of experienced and inexperienced players, with McAteer and Eoin Monaghan from those respective categories playing key roles, as did one-time senior stalwart Tom McHugh in defence.

St Paul's, who still have the dubious satisfaction of representing Westmeath in the Leinster club championship, will ultimately rue their profligacy, particularly when wind assisted in the first moiety.

The Clonmellon side took a while to settle but then pounced for a pair of quickfire points in the sixth minute via Johnny McGuinness and Lenny Higgins, both very well-taken with left and right foot respectively. However, Aidan Dunning's charges were level by the midpoint of the first half, courtesy of a great point from a tight angle from Eoin Monaghan and a 30-metre free from Noel Galvin, sandwiched between which the losers were wasteful both from frees and open play.

Pat Clancy's troops dominated the second quarter and were rewarded with three unanswered points - two from opportunist corner-forward Johnny McGuinness and the other from Mickey Travers, who availed of uncertainty in the winners' defence. This left the scoreboard at the break reading: St. Paul's 0-5 Garrycastle 0-2.

St Paul's made little of the wind in their faces on the change of ends by adding a brace of points in the 35th and 37th minutes, half-time replacement Conor Slator justifying his introduction with a neat point and David Dolan dissecting the posts in style with a left-footed shot.

However, Garrycastle took control at this juncture and they scored 2-3 without reply in an 11-minute spell to open up a four-point gap. Points from Neal Rattigan (after the referee overruled the umpire's initial wide call) and Noel Galvin (a terrific 50-metre free) were followed by a rasping shot to the net from 20 metres by Justin McAteer which flew in via Ollie Mulvaney's fingertips.

The winners took the lead for the first time in the 44th minute when Eoin Monaghan kicked a fine individual point and, after both sides kicked disappointing wides, Noel Galvin slotted the ball home from the penalty spot when Eoin Monaghan was fouled in the large parallelogram.

Ironically, the blue and whites got right back into contention with a converted penalty of their own with four minutes of normal time remaining, Kenny Higgins side-footing the ball to the net after Darren Henry was fouled.

It was now a one-point game but Garrycastle added two crucial points in as many minutes as the scoreboard clock ticked down to zero, Eoin Monaghan doing very well to find the range under pressure and Robbie Fox pointing in style, at the end of a counterattack when Philip Gilsenan was penalised for overcarrying after a surging run goalward.

A period of three minutes' injury-time was signalled but, despite frantic St. Paul's attacks, Garrycastle held firm to deservedly land the spoils.

After the game, the chairman of the Westmeath Football Board, Liam Gavin presented the Hugh Daniels Memorial Cup to the victorious Garrycastle captain, Noel Galvin.

Scorers
Garrycastle: N Galvin 1-2 (1-0pen, 2 frees), J McAteer 1-0, E Monaghan 0-3, R Fox and N Rattigan 0-1 each. St. Paul's: K Higgins 1-0 (pen), J McGuinness 0-3, D Dolan, L Higgins, M Travers and C Slator 0-1 each.

Garrycastle:
Padraig Cosgrove; Anthony Duignan, Sean Brennan, Gary McCallon; Gary Mullery, Tom McHugh, Anthony Larkin; Noel Galvin (capt), Justin Barrett; Robbie Fox, Neal Rattigan, Brian Carthy; Eoin Monaghan, Paul O'Donovan, Paul Mulvihill. Subs: Peadar Mulvihill for Carthy (h-t), Justin McAteer for O'Donovan (h-t), Sean Carey for Paul Mulvihill (52), Enda Keena for Rattigan (60 + 3).

St. Paul's:
Ollie Mulvaney; Barry Davis, Jimmy McQuaid, John Fitzpatrick; Jack Clancy, Gary Gilsenan, Robert Dugdale; Paul Gilsenan, David Dolan; Mickey Travers, Philip Gilsenan, Kenny Higgins; Johnny McGuinness, Lenny Higgins, Dara Brady (capt). Subs: Conor Slator for Dugdale (h-t), Darren Henry for L. Higgins (52), Emmett Cunneen for McGuinness (52), Richard Sheridan for Travers (57).

Referee: 
Mick McAdden (St. Loman's, Mullingar). 


Published in the Westmeath Independent on October 12th 2011 and reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Independent.



Westmeath Minor Football Final (2 October, 2011)

St Ciaran's capture first minor title after drama packed finale

St Ciaran's 3-6 Ennell Shamrocks 2-8

In a foretaste of what was to come in the senior decider, drama rather than pure football was the main ingredient in last Sunday's Westmeath minor football championship final, when amalgamation side St. Ciaran's from the south of the county dethroned another combination side Ennell Shamrocks in an exciting contest.

Despite Gary Dolan's charges racing into an early five-point lead, the reigning champions clawed their way back into contention and there was never a lot between two evenly-matched sides over 70 minutes-plus (an inordinate number of injuries justifying a lot of added-time).

Ciaran Kirby's troops led only twice in the contest (and both times just for a few minutes) and the concession of a soft second goal in the 39th minute left them with a little too much to do in the final analysis.

St Ciaran's (a combination of Caulry, Castledaly/Garrycastle) got off to a flying start and were 1-2 to 0-0 ahead by the seventh minute. Early points from Lorcan Dolan (a fine score from play) and Robbie Hickey (from a needlessly-conceded '45') were followed by a well-taken goal from close range by the latter player, after fielding Eoin Monaghan's long punt goalward.

In the 13th minute, Neal Kirby opened Ennell Shamrocks' account with a fine solo point, but Darragh Kelly responded with a similar score. However, the young men in red, white and maroon had a purple patch between the 17th and 23rd minutes, scoring an unanswered 1-3 in the process. The points came from Niall O'Brien (two, the first from a free) and Neal Kirby (after doing well to make space) and the goal also from Kirby, having fielded Aonghus Clarke's delivery.

In the time remaining in the first moiety, Eric Fallon and Neal Kirby traded points from frees, leaving the scoreboard at the break reading: Ennell Shamrocks (St Malachy's/Ballinagore and Kilbeggan/St Joseph's) 1-5 St Ciaran's 1-4.

A little over five minutes after the resumption of play, Caulry's Robbie Hickey tied up the scoring when he rounded off a great move with a neat point from 20 metres. Arguably the game's turning point then arrived when a St. Ciaran's counterattack eventually ended with Eric Fallon's harmless-looking shot finding the net to put the lads in the Garrycastle strip a goal to the good.

Castledaly's Lorcan Dolan was by now far removed from his listed position of full-forward and he was mopping up a lot of loose ball to good effect for the winners, who stretched their lead in the 45th minute when newly-introduced substitute Michael Monaghan (Garrycastle) kicked a fine point under pressure.

A replacement on the opposition side also quickly showed his worth - Alan Clarke pouncing for a brace of well-taken points to add to a great score from wing-back David Fennell from 45 metres, to leave the margin down to the bare minimum.

A plethora of injuries led to a stop/start period of play and the fourth official duly signalled a whopping seven minutes of added-time. Further stoppages in injury-time further complicated the issue and when Eoin Monaghan's low shot squirmed to the back of the losers' net in the 67th minute, it was clear that more time was still on the cards. The second of two rapid-fire '45's for Ennell Shamrocks ended with Niall O'Brien doing very well to find the net with a great shot in a crowded goalmouth. However, when the ball was booted over the sideline moments later, the referee blew the final whistle.

Shortly afterwards, John Weir, chairman of the Westmeath GAA Minor Board, presented the Paddy Walsh Memorial Cup to the winning St. Ciaran's captain, Justin Barrett.

IN A NUTSHELL
SCORERS - St. Ciaran's: R Hickey 1-2 (1 '45'), E Fallon 1-1, E Monaghan 1-0, D Kelly, L Dolan and M Monaghan 0-1 each. Ennell Shamrocks: N Kirby 1-3, N O'Brien 1-2, A Clarke 0-2, D Fennell 0-1.

ST. CIARAN'S: Mark Keenan; Paul Henson, Michael McMahon, Sean Carey; Jack O'Kelly Lynch, Paddy Holloway, Jack O'Meara; Justin Barrett, Robbie Hickey; Andrew O'Sullivan, Eoin Monaghan, Darragh Kelly; David Brooks, Lorcan Dolan, Eric Fallon. Subs: Alex Gardiner for Brooks (h-t), Michael Monaghan for Kelly, inj (42), Gavin Ward for Carey (50), Stephen Woods for Fallon (60 + 4).

ENNELL SHAMROCKS: Liam Cassidy; Liam Varley, Dean McDermott, Niall Gunning; Luke Peppard, David Lynch, David Fennell; Aonghus Clarke, Shane Clavin; Michael Dever, Paul Fennell, Eoin Quinn; Neal Kirby, Niall O'Brien, Kieran Glennon. Subs: Alan Clarke for Glennon (46), Damien McCormack for D. Fennell, inj (55), Kieran Glennon for Dever, inj (60), Sean Mullarkey for Peppard (60 +3).

REFEREE: Brendan Keena (Ballynacargy).

Published in the Westmeath Independent on Wednesday 5th October 2011 
and reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Independent.



Junior B Championship Final 2010 (16 January, 2011)


GARRYCASTLE 3-9 BALLYNACARGY 1-14 (after extra time)

Garrycastle’s Junior B side became the first side in the club to capture the Junior B championship title with a gutsy display in the much postponed final played in Ballynacargy last Sunday morning.

Garrycastle had to defend into a very strong wind in the first half and as a result had to battle to limit the scores for the home side. Ballynacargy started brightly and had their first point in the opening minute. They doubled their lead almost immediately with another point from play. Ballynacargy increased their lead to 3 points in the 6th minute and with 10 minutes elapsed had stretched this out to four. A goal for the home side in the 11th minute gave them a seven advantage and Garrycastle were holding on for dear life. Garrycastle began to get hold of some decent possession and did have a couple of opportunities to get on the scoreboard. However, they failed to convert a couple of frees into the teeth of the wind. Brian Carthy was unlucky when his effort for goal in the 17th minute came back off the upright and was cleared. However, their efforts were eventually rewarded when Kevin Hogan broke through only to see his shot strike the woodwork but he reacted quicker than the home defenders and struck the rebound to the net in the 23rd minute. Ballynacargy responded in style to that setback and from there to the break hit over a succession of points, one from a free and five from open play to lead by 1-10 to 1-0 at half time.

Garrycastle knew that they would have to work much harder, even with the aid of the wind, if they were to get back into the game. Conor Cosgrove fired over a point from a free in the 5th minute of the second period. A point from a Noel Galvin free in the 38th minute was soon followed by a fine point from Fergal Murray to reduce the gap to seven points. Conor Cosgrove then had another pointed free to leave just six between the sides. Ballynacargy had a rear foray up field and had a point in the 50th minute. Garrycastle kept up the pressure and a goal was scored by centre-back Sean Brennan after good approach play in the 53rd minute. Game on!!! Kevin Hogan again hit the woodwork but Conor Cosgrove put his side within just one point with his side’s third goal in the 57th minute. Garrycastle pressed forward in search of an equalising point and their efforts were rewarded when Conor Cosgrove struck over a free in the first minute of added time after a foul on Paul Donovan. The referee’s whistle was sounded a minute later and the sides had to face into two 10 minute periods of extra time.

Garrycastle played the first period with the aid of the wind and went into the lead for the very first time in the final in the 2nd minute with a pointed free from Paul Donovan. They took a two point lead when Conor Cosgrove hit over a fine point from play. Ballynacargy hit back and had a point of their own in the 6th minute which left Garrycastle a point to the good at the end of the first period of extra time on a scoreline of 3-7 to 1-12.

It did not appear that a single point lead would be sufficient facing into the wind. However, Garrycastle showed great experience and composure, and retained possession well when they had it. Ballynacargy levelled the sore with a point in the 3rd minute of the second period from a free. However, Garrycastle regained the advantage when Noel Galvin struck over a point from a close range free following a foul on Paul Donovan. The home side again levelled matter with a point just as the game entered its final minute and it looked like the match would have to go to a replay. The referee played on and Garrycastle attacked one more time. Conor Cosgrove broke forward but seemed to lose control of the ball. However, the same player regained possession and struck over a glorious point to put the visitors into the lead yet again. While there was another minute played by the referee, Garrycastle held on for a wonderful victory.

This was a cracking game of football played by two evenly matched sides. Despite all the rain, the Ballynacargy pitch was in excellent condition. Football Board Chairman, Des McGuire, in presenting the Junior B trophy to Garrycastle Captain, Padraig Cosgrove, rightly praised both sides and the officials for a wonderful game and the Ballynacargy club for its excellent presentation of the pitch.

It was the proverbial game of two halves (and the same in extra time). This was primarily a team performance by Garrycastle. They showed great fight to come back from a 10 point deficit at half time and to dig out the win in extra time. Well done to all of the players, who made the first year in which the club fielded a third adult team, a championship winning one.

GARRYCASTLE: Stephen McGuire, Gary Mullery, John Murphy, Alan Fox, Anthony Larkin, Sean Brennan (1-0), Conor Harrington, Noel Galvin (0-2, 2f), Justin McAteer, Padraig Cosgrove (Capt), Conor Cosgrove (1-5, 0-2f), Fergal Murray (0-1), Brian Carthy, Kevin Hogan (1-0) and Paul Donovan (0-1, 1f).
SUBS: Sean Carey for F Murray (43 min). Not used: Keith Donoghue and Enda Keena.


Shay Murtagh Senior Football Championship Final 2010

Dolan and Dillon goals help Garrycastle to claim fifth county title

Garrycastle 2-9 Mullingar Shamrocks 1-8

The Flanagan Cup will remain in Garrycastle for another year, after Anthony Cunningham's charges retained their Westmeath senior football title with a deserved four-point win over a disappointing Mullingar Shamrocks outfit in a very poor-standard county final at Cusack Park last Sunday afternoon. 

A reflection of the ragged nature of the contest as a whole can be gauged by the post-match talk among many sections of the 2,700 crowd present of it being the worst county final in memory. This is compounded by the fact that last Sunday produced ideal conditions for football, despite the recent vagaries in the weather. 

The atmosphere in the stand and on the terraces was often muted and, in truth, Shamrocks never really looked like they had the self-belief to bridge a ten-year gap and regain the Flanagan Cup. This, despite an absolute gem of a goal from team manager Ray Smyth's son, Lorcan, in the sixth minute - a solo score which has seldom, if ever, been surpassed at Westmeath GAA headquarters. 
However, it was the two Garrycastle goals which effectively sealed the winners' fifth title in ten years. Paddy Mulvihill and Des Dolan combined delightfully to set up the latter's cousin, overlapping corner-back James Dolan, to fire home a great goal in the 22nd minute, helping the champions to a half-time lead of 1-6 to 1-2. 

The game's undoubted turning point came in the eighth minute of the second half when, moments after Cian O'Leary pointed for the Mullingar men when a goal looked on the cards, Rory McGowan teed up Paul Dillon for a splendid goal. Despite the best efforts of Simon Quinn, in particular, in the losers' attack, Garrycastle never looked likely to be dethroned in the closing stages, with the wily Des Dolan using all his craft and experience to pull the strings throughout the pitch. In a break with tradition, Mullingar Town Band was conspicuous by its absence, with the Ravens Marching Showband providing the musical accompaniment for Denise Fulham as she sang the pre-match National Anthem. Wind-assisted Garrycastle, who were forced to replace flu-victim Justin McAteer with Aidan Browne at centrefield, were straight out of the traps and Rory McGowan put them ahead after a mere 15 seconds with a well-taken point from 30 metres, into the scoreboard end of the ground. Within a minute, Des Dolan was narrowly wide before Fiachra Spellman shot a bad wide at the other end. Directly from the kick-out, Des Dolan set up David O'Shaughnessy and the 2004 Delaney Cup recipient kicked a rare point, with aplomb. Ciaran Curley was just off target for the challengers - perhaps caught in two minds as to whether you go for a goal or be satisfied with what would have a valuable point. 

At this stage the game was quite entertaining and the end-to-end nature of the exchanges soon saw Philip Shaw smother Mark McCallon's goalbound effort from close range. There followed a score of real beauty and class. Lorcan Smyth collected the ball in his own half and soloed all the way to within 15 metres of the Garrycastle goal before unleashing an unstoppable shot past Cathal Mullin to the roof of the net, to edge the challengers a point ahead. Philip Shaw was unconvincing but, nonetheless, the Mullingar custodian still kept out Paddy Mulvihill's attempt at an immediate Garrycastle riposte. Simon Quinn, who was particularly prominent throughout for the losers, superbly curled over a difficult free for the green and whites and the same player followed up with another point, this time from a routine free, to put Shamrocks a goal to the good (1-2 to 0-2) in the 11th minute. 

A quickly-taken free by Des Dolan enabled team captain Doran Harte to get on the scoresheet with a fine shot from 35 metres. Both goalkeepers were soon called into action, with Cathal Mullin's clearance from Simon Quinn being quite unorthodox, as Fiachra Spellman threatened. In a near-repeat of an earlier incident, Philip Shaw smothered Mark McCallon's effort as the holders came more and more into the game. Shamrocks' Darragh Daly was off target from a good opportunity after a period of scrappy play. Des Dolan levelled the match with a brace of routine frees in the 19th and 20th minutes, before the green and reds took a lead they never looked likely to relinquish, with Paddy Mulvihill (who has had a fine campaign this summer) and Des Dolan combining for James Dolan to fire low to the net, with Philip Shaw never moving as the ball flew past him. 
Shaw just managed to keep out Conor Cosgrove's shot in the winners' next attack, before Lorcan Smyth and Cosgrove both missed scoreable left-footed frees. Referee Damien Maher, who had a fine county final debut, signalled two minutes of added-time and Garrycastle edged further ahead during this time when Des Dolan's 35-metre free went over via the upright. The same player had less luck with a shot from open play in the last action of the first moiety, the ball coming back into play via the woodwork. This left the scoreboard at half-time reading: Garrycastle 1-6 Mullingar Shamrocks 1-2. 

After outstanding interval entertainment from Scór na n"g All-Ireland winners, Moate All-Whites Ballad Group, play was quite ragged in the early stages of the second half before Cian O'Leary (renowned as a goalpoacher) shot over rather than under Cathal Mullin's crossbar when a goal beckoned, after Lorcan Smyth's shot came back off the upright. This was Shamrocks' first score in a whopping 29 minutes and their paucity of scores was soon highlighted even more when Garrycastle struck for their second goal, Rory McGowan teeing up ultra-consistent full-forward Paul Dillon for a terrific finish from 20 metres to put the winners ahead by double-scores (2-6 to 1-3). 
A patient Mullingar build-up ended with Simon Quinn pointing neatly. However, a loose pass by the latter player then precipitated a flowing Garrycastle move which ended with a typically-classy point from Des Dolan (who must surely have run his cousin James very close in the formal vote for 'Man of the Match'). 

The champions were now dominant in and around the midfield area and substitute Alan Daly got on the scoresheet as the midpoint of the second moiety approached, with a lovely left-footed shot. Darragh Daly was bundled off the ball near the Garrycastle goalmouth and Cian O'Leary's toe-poked effort was deflected out for a '45', which was kicked short of the target by Philip Shaw. 
Three points in as many minutes gave Shamrocks' supporters hope - substitute Denis Corroon finding the range in style and Simon Quinn following up with a brace, the first a fine score from play and the second from a free on the 45-metre line. An attempt to blast home a goal by Darragh Daly was deflected for another '45, but again Philip Shaw was unable to get the distance, despite the aid of the wind. Aidan Browne set up Alan Daly for his second point to wrap up Garrycastle scoring, with a minute of normal time remaining. 

Des Dolan was now seen to good effect helping out his defence. Three minutes of additional time were signalled and in the dying seconds, Simon Quinn's rasping shot flew just over the Garrycastle crossbar. Moments later, a delighted Doran Harte was presented with the Flanagan Cup by Westmeath County Board chairman, Tom Farrell. 

Garrycastle now face Longford Slashers in the first round of this year's Leinster club championship in Cusack Park on October 24. While this is a real 'banana skin' for the green and reds, there remains real hope in the county that Anthony Cunningham's troops - who have genuine strength-in-depth in most positions - can go one better than last year and break Westmeath's duck in the blue riband of provincial club football, come December 5.

GARRYCASTLE: Cathal Mullin; James Dolan (1-0), John Gaffey, Alan Fox; Mark McCallon, Karl Henson, Doran Harte (capt) (0-1); Seanie O'Donoghue, Aidan Browne; David O'Shaughnessy (0-1), Des Dolan (0-4, 3 frees), Rory McGowan (0-1); Conor Cosgrove, Paul Dillon (1-0), Paddy Mulvihill. Subs: Alan Daly (0-2) for Cosgrove (h-t), Shane Mulvihill for McGowan (51 mins), James Duignan for Henson (52), Enda Mulvihill for Fox (54), Donovan Hermbusche for O'Donoghue (60 +1). 

MULLINGAR SHAMROCKS: Philip Shaw; Eddie Moore, Aaron Purcell, Mark Irwin; Micheál Curley, Donal O'Donoghue, Aonghus Smyth; Garrett Doyle, Darragh Daly; Anthony Clinton (capt), Lorcan Smyth (1-0), Simon Quinn (0-6, 3 frees); Fiachra Spellman, Ciaran Curley, Cian O'Leary (0-1). Subs: Denis Corroon (0-1) for Spellman (inj, 26 mins), Kieran Gavin for Doyle (40), Adam Corroon for O'Donoghue (inj, 45), Darren Moore for O'Leary (59). 

REFEREE: Damien Maher (Ballynacargy).

Attendance – 2,500

Published in the Westmeath Independent on October 6th 2010 and reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Independent.



Westmeath Senior Football Final 2009

GARRYCASTLE ALWAYS IN CONTROL


Garrycastle 3 - 8 St. Loman's 0 - 6

St. Loman's dreams of a first Westmeath senior football title in 46 years were well and truly shattered in Cusack Park, as a far slicker and more streetwise Garrycastle outfit won the Flanagan Cup for the fourth time, by a comfortable 11-points margin. 

The men in green and red are now the undisputed 'football team of the decade' in the Lake County, with all their titles coming in the past nine years. Throw in two losing final appearances (including last year to Castledaly) and Garrycastle have been clearly the top team in the county since the turn of the century. 

Indeed, on the evidence of their semi-final demolition of Tyrrellspass and last Sunday's clear-cut win over the youthful Mullingar blues, Anthony Cunningham's charges are entitled to be considered genuine contenders for the Leinster club championship, a trophy that has eluded a succession of Westmeath teams over its 39-year history. 

Many shrewd pre-match observers feared that the occasion might get to St. Loman's. And so it proved, as Conor Lynam apart, the losers failed to live up to their undoubted potential. From an early stage of the contest, Des Dolan tormented a number of markers and the winners could easily have been a lot more than four points up at the break. James Dolan's 20th-minute goal always looked on the cards and Shane Mulvihill came very close to adding a second, a few minutes later. When Gary Dolan and substitute Alan Daly (albeit somewhat controversially) raised two further green flags by the ninth minute of the second moiety, the game completely died as a contest. 
St. Loman's players, mentors and supporters - the latter forming the vast majority of the 4,200 or so spectators present - greeted Sean Carroll's final whistle with relief, with the Garrycastle players being afforded the luxury of some showboating late in the game. If there is any consolation for Walter Burke's troops, they can reflect on how badly beaten in their first final last year's champions Castledaly were, also by Garrycastle, earlier in the decade and how their persistence eventually paid off. However, that is for another day and the green and reds are entitled to celebrate a fine all-round performance as they await Longford or Wexford opposition next month. 

Cusack Park looked resplendent for the pre-match formalities, with the Mullingar Town Band giving their usual colourful display for the parade and the playing of Amhrán na bhFiann, which was sung with great gusto by Scór supremo, Pauric Keena from Ballymore. Prior to this, a minute's silence was observed in memory of the recently-deceased Joe Hatton from Athlone. The conundrum as to who would pick up Des Dolan was solved when Gary Glennon was allocated the thankless job of marking arguably Westmeath's greatest-ever forward. The Moate CS teacher went on to show that, even aged 30, he is still a class apart. Indeed, the former International Rules star was on the scoresheet in the opening minute, kicking a great free from his hands, after his brother Gary (who also had a fine hour as captain) had been fouled. 

With Garrycastle having whatever small advantage was accruing from the wind, Stephen Gallagher in the St. Loman's goal was called into action twice but, like so many of his colleagues in the early exchanges, he did not exude his normal confidence. On the other hand, a battle-hardened Garrycastle side looked very focused and it was no surprise when they doubled their advantage, Des Dolan ominously finding himself unmarked in the sixth minute to pick up Shane Mulvihill's pass, before lobbing over a simple score. Within a minute, Des Dolan added another, this time receiving a great pass from the impressive Mark McCallon (a close second in the 'man of the match' voting) and firing over a sublime point. 

Just to prove his fallibility, Des Dolan followed up with a bad miss, by his exalted standards. St. Loman's badly needed a score to settle their nerves, but Paul Sharry's attempt was half blocked by Mark McCallon and Cathal Mullin held the ball easily. The winners looked threatening every time they attacked and a three-man move ended with Doran Harte fisting the ball wide from a very good position. Tommy Lambden was wide with an ambitious shot for St. Loman's, but they eventually raised a green flag in the 11th minute, Kieran Lynam tapping over a routine free after Ciaran Kilmurray had been fouled. Directly from the kick-out, a lightning Garrycastle move ended with Des Dolan seemingly getting set to shoot for a goal, but the referee had blown for a free which Paul Dillon converted with his left foot.

St. Loman's missed a couple of opportunities to double their tally but they had yet another narrow escape in the 17th minute. Paul Dillon reacted to Gary Dolan's knock down, but the corner-forward's shot under pressure hit the side netting. Kenny McKinley was now picking up Des Dolan but, in truth, the 1995 All-Ireland winning centre half-back fared no better than Gary Glennon had. A heavy challenge by Seanie O'Donoghue on St. Loman's youthful midfielder John Heslin went unpunished and, seconds later, a quickly-taken free by Gary Dolan freed his cousin James, who duly planted a low shot past Stephen Gallagher for the game's opening goal in the 20th minute. 
It could have got much worse for a clearly-rattled St. Loman's side some three minutes later. Des Dolan set up Shane Mulvihill who came face-to-face with Stephen Gallagher and was forced to fist the ball to the net, and the 'goal' was rightly disallowed. 

The suspicion remains that had Mulvihill (who was immediately replaced after picking up a knock as he 'scored') not stayed on his feet, he could well have been awarded a penalty. Sandwiched between two poor attempts at scores from Kieran Lynam (the first from a free), Conradh Reilly pointed neatly for the losers' second score. In a generally lifeless end to the first moiety, Conor Lynam gave St. Loman's a little more hope with a fine point, before Sean Carroll blew for the half-time interval. At the break, Garrycastle were not remotely flattered to lead by 1-4 to 0-3. 

Des Dolan started the second half with a wonderful point from an acute angle, with a mere 20 seconds elapsed. The same player was in the thick of the action again in the fourth minute, availing of a deflection by Seanie Murphy to set up his younger brother Gary who finished to the net with aplomb. Five minutes later, the destiny of the Flanagan Cup was well and truly decided, and it would not be to the club of the great stalwart after whom it was named. A free from near the stand sideline by Des Dolan was contested by Stephen Gallagher and Gary Dolan. When the ball broke loose, substitute Alan Daly had the simple task of poking it into an unguarded net. 

Silence descended on the large blue and white-clad band of supporters and the remainder of the game was merely a damage limitation exercise, with only Conor Lynam (consistently) and the likes of Paddy Dowdall and Jonathan Plunkett (sporadically) displaying the intensity needed for a county final. The younger of the Lynams will have undoubtedly impressed the watching Brendan Hackett and he kicked his second point in the ninth minute of the half, availing of a good pass from Conradh Reilly. However, St. Loman's woes were then illustrated by a wild crossfield pass to nobody in particular from Ciaran Kilmurray. 

The virtual one-man salvaging exercise from Conor Lynam continued with two terrific points in the 12th and 16th minutes, sandwiched between which his fellow Westmeath debutant in 2009, Paul Sharry, had no such luck with his shooting. 

Both sides spurned chances and it was left to the champions-elect to wrap up the scoring with three unanswered points in a closing 12 minutes (including injury-time) which were utterly devoid of atmosphere. Paul Dillon tapped over a left-footed free and was immediately substituted (much to his disappointment) in the 20th minute. 

James Duignan soon converted another free. In the second minute of added-time, Des Dolan fittingly rounded off match scoring with another delightful point, this time with his left foot. Within minutes, his brother Gary was collecting the Flanagan Cup from Westmeath GAA chairman Tom Farrell. Beside him, 'big brother' Des was collecting the 'man of the match' trophy from Andy Murtagh, representing the competition sponsors, Shay Murtagh Ltd. 

Des' trophy cabinet must be nearing capacity now, but this marvellous footballer has deserved all his awards. He would be a most deserving winner of a Leinster club medal come December. A lot stranger things have happened. 

GARRYCASTLE: Cathal Mullin; Padraig Rattigan, John Gaffey, Enda Mulvihill; Mark McCallon, Karl Henson, Doran Harte; Seanie O'Donoghue, Aidan Browne; James Dolan (1-0), James Duignan (0-1f), Shane Mulvihill; Paul Dillon (0-2, 2f), Gary Dolan (capt., 1-0), Des Dolan (0-5, 1f). 

Subs: Alan Daly (1-0) for S. Mulvihill (inj, 24 mins); Stephen O'Reilly for O'Donoghue (inj, 40); Tom McHugh for Rattigan (47); David O'Shaughnessy for Dillon (51), Johnny McGuire for Browne (57).

ST LOMAN'S, MULLINGAR: Stephen Gallagher; Seanie Murphy, James Davitt, Kenny McKinley (capt); Gary Glennon, Paddy Dowdall, Senan Russell; Tommy Lambden, John Heslin; Conradh Reilly (0-1), Jonathan Plunkett, Conor Lynam (0-4); Paul Sharry, Kieran Lynam (0-1f), Ciaran Kilmurray. 

Subs: Stephen Gilmore for Russell (34 mins); John Ahearne for Lambden (40); Emmett Cahill for Murphy (49); Willie McGovern for Sharry (52); Conor Cochrane for Reilly (inj, 54). 

REFEREE: Sean Carroll (The Downs).

(Published in the Westmeath Independent on 8 October 2009 and reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Independent)



Westmeath Senior Football Final 2004

O’SHAUGHNESSY INSPIRES GARRYCASTLE TO THIRD TITLE AS CASTLEDALY PAY PRICE FOR MISSED CHANCES

KIERAN GALVIN
GAA CORRESPONDENT

GARRYCASTLE 1 - 8 CASTLEDALY 0 - 9

It has been one hell of a year for David O'Shaughnessy - and he capped it off in perfect style by inspiring Garrycastle to their third county title in four years at Cusack Park, Mullingar last Sunday.
O'Shaughnessy - who last July became the first Westmeath man to lift the Leinster SFC Trophy -bestrode this match like a colossus. Combining marvellous high fielding with sterling defensive work, the giant midfielder's leadership qualities were always to the fore when needed in a tense and hard-fought final. Garrycastle only won their first county title in 2001, but they have now added two more since and they boast an enviable 100 per cent record in county finals.

For Castledaly, who went into Sunday's game with an unbeaten league and championship record, this was a heartbreaking disappointment and they still await their first senior county title. Castledaly have enjoyed a splendid year during which they took their first-ever Division 1 League title, but in terms of the big prize they find themselves in the role of bridesmaids once more.
At the same stage two years ago, Garrycastle defeated Castledaly in emphatic fashion, but this was always destined to be a tightly contested affair, and despite O'Shaughnessy's midfield dominance, Castledaly had the chances to at least draw the game.
Castledaly's chief marksman JP Casey won a good deal of ball and kicked two points from play, but he was off target with a couple of frees and those misses proved crucial. Still, it would be grossly unfair to lay any blame at the door of a player who so often been his team’s match-winner and who finished the championship with a total of 1- 45.
Ultimately, a first-half goal from Westmeath panellist Justin McAteer proved the difference between the teams, but one couldn't deny that Garrycastle deserved their victory.
Garrycastle were better at piercing holes in the opposition defense and, were it not for a couple of good saves from Paddy Golden, they could have added to McAteer's goal. On the other hand, Cathal Mullin never had a save of note to make.

All-Star nominee Dessie Dolan may have been held scoreless from play, but he was the fulcrum of virtually every Garrycastle move and was instrumental in setting up a number of scores, in addition to notching five points from placed balls. Dolan's direct opponent was Ken Larkin but, given the good quality ball Garrycastle managed to feed into their no. 14, it's highly unlikely any other Castledaly defender would have fared any better on the Westmeath star.
Paddy Mulvihill again showed that he could have plenty to offer the Westmeath senior set-up next year. Although wearing no. 12 was deployed at left-corner forward, where his height and ball-winning ability caused Adrian Kelly no end of discomfort.
James Duignan, who was not named among the starting fifteen on the match programme more than justified his place, crowning his display with a vital second-half point. Though listed at centre-forward, Ciaran Ryan played at midfield where he complemented O'Shaughnessy very well with a typically hardworking display and this helped Garrycastle to cope with the loss of the injured Gary Dolan.

The Garrycastle full-back line was generally secure. Tom McHugh continued the good form he has shown all year, Karl Henson did fairly well on JP Casey and Padraig Rattigan was extremely solid. Half-backs Doran Harte and Enda Mulvihill were industrious as ever, although Seanie O'Donoghue had his fair share of problems with MJ McLoughlin in the first half.

For Castledaly, goalkeeper Paddy Golden performed his duties very capably, while Ciaran Henson was seen to good effect in an intriguing tussle with the ever-lively Alan Daly. County star Derek Heavin frequently lifted his side with some dashing play and, although occasionally troubled by the movement and pace of Justin McAteer, Russell Casey battled manfully. 
Gordon Duffy, who has enjoyed an outstanding season, never got motoring last Sunday, while his brother and midfield partner, Niall managed to pick up a fair bit of possession as well as scoring a good point.
Damien Doyle was Castledaly's top scorer with three points from play and he had a terrific second half. MJ McLoughlin played very well at centre-forward (particularly in the first half), while Alan Fitzgerald, Michael Gavin, and Michael Duffy never stopped trying although things didn’t always go their way. 

Dessie’s Deadly free-taking

Boosted by McAteer’s goal, Garrycastle led 1-5 to 0-5 at half-time after playing with a slight breeze. That McAteer goal was actually Carrycastle’s only score from open play in the first half. Dessie Dolan’s free-taking was impeccable during the first half and he converted four frees and one ‘45’ to make up the remainder of Garrycastle’s total. By contrast, all of Castledaly’s points in the first half came from play, with JP Casey accounting for two of those points. Castledaly struck first blood when Casey pointed in the opening minute. Dessie Dolan converted a free to bring the sides level. A flowing Garrycastle move involving Donal Ryan, Alan Daly and Paddy Mulvihill caused danger signals in the Castledaly defense, but Ken Larkin got a block on Mulvihill's shot and Adrian Kelly knocked the ball out for a ‘45‘. Dolan struck the ‘45‘ delightfully to put Garrycastle in front.
O‘Shaughnessy started the game as he would go on but, with MJ McLoughlin going deep to pick up possession, Castledaly soon gained a foothold. Michael Duffy drew Castledaly level on 11 minutes after a series of passes across the pitch. A couple of minutes later, Niall Duffy hit a fine point after more good work by McLoughlin. Two frees by Dolan (the first an excellent long-range effort) put Garrycastle one point in front.
Garrycastle’s all important goal came on 21 minutes and Dolan was the instigator with a pass to Justin McAteer, who came through the centre and laid the ball off to Alan Daly. The centre-forwards shot was brilliantly blocked by Castledaly ‘keeper Paddy Golden, but McAteer was on hand to flick the ball to the net.
The goal momentarily sapped Castledaly’s confidence and JP Casey registered two wides with two frees. Casey them made amends with a well-taken point off his left foot following an interception by an alert Derek Heavin.
Dolan added another long range free but Castledaly had the last word in the first half, Damien Doyle doing well to point after cutting in from the endline. That injury time point was a tonic Castledaly needed going into the break.

The youthful Michael Gavin blasted wide following good play from JP Casey and Michael Duffy in the first action of note in the second half. At the other end, Daly displayed economy of movement to turn and point for the first score of the second period. Justin McAteer could have given Garrycastle real breathing space following a pinpoint Dolan pass, but McAteer’s attempt to score a second goal was saved by Golden.
Michael Duffy was handed the free-taking responsibility following a foul on Russell Casey and Duffy found the range with a fine effort from the right. In the 44th minute Castledaly were within two points when Doyle popped the ball over after good work by Michael Duffy.
However, Garrycastle checked Castledaly’s gathering momentum with a 46th minute point by James Duignan. The roving wing-forward took a pass from a lineball and made light of a difficult angle with an excellent kick.
In the 50th minute, Dolan won another free off Larkin. Dessie opted to place Paddy Mulvihill with the free and the impressive Mulvihill hit a crucial point. That proved Garrycastle’s last score, although had Ciaran Ryan and O’Shaughnessy converted scoreable chances they could have ensured a more comfortable finish.
As it turned pout, Garrycastle were put on the back foot for the remainder as Castledaly made a valiant effort to rescue the game. A huge point by Derek Heavin left the score 1-8 to 0-8 with seven minutes remaining. Damien Doyle then hit his third point (after good play by sub Paul Kelly) to cut the deficit to just two points – and there was still three minutes left.
Tempers rose towards the finish and a mini-melee broke out near the sideline. The incident started when Castledaly’s Russell Casey made innocuous contact with Garrycastle manager Martin McCabe and then a Garrycastle sub got involved in a wholly unnecessary fashion. The fracas appeared to peter out without serious incident, however, the referee chose to take no action.
Back on the field, JP Casey was off target with another free and a match-winning Castledaly goal never looked like arriving. Garrycastle held firm to take their third title and team captain Cathal Mullin left nobody out in his very comprehensive acceptance speech.
But the green and red side have little time to bask in the glory of this success – for they face Dublin champions Kilmacud Crokes in the Leinster club championship this Saturday afternoon in Parnell Park.

SCORERS – Garrycastle: D. Dolan 0-5 (4f 1 ‘45’), J. McAteer 1-0, A. Daly , J. Duignan, and P. Mulvihill 0-1 each. Castledaly: D. Doyle 0-3, JP Casey 0-2, M. Duffy 0-2 (1f), N. Duffy and D. Heavin 0-1 each.

GARRYCASTLE: Cathal Mullin (Capt.), Karl Henson, Tom McHugh, Padraig Rattigan, Doran Harte, Seanie O’Donoghue, Enda Mulvihill, Ciarán Ryan, David O’Shaughnessy, Donal Ryan, Justin McAteer, James Duignan, Alan Daly, Dessie Dolan, Paddy Mulvihill. Subs: Paul Dillon for D. Ryan (28 mins), Robbie Fox for Daly (57), John O’Shaughnessy for Duignan (62).

CASTLEDALY: Paddy Golden, Adrian Kelly, Ken Larkin, Ciarán Henson, Enda Kelly, Russell Casey, Derek Heavin, Gordon Duffy, Niall Duffy, Alan Fitzgerald, MJ McLoughlin, Damien Doyle, Michael Gavin, Michael Duffy, J.P. Casey (Capt.). 
Subs: Paul Kelly for Fitzgerald (47 mins), James Galvin for Gavin (55).

Referee: Sean Carroll (The Downs), attendance 3,984.

Published in the Westmeath Independent on November 13th 2004 and reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Independent



Westmeath crowned Leinster Senior Football Champions 2004!!

There have been some great days for Westmeath football in recent years but last Saturday evening in Croke Park will go down as the most famous day in the County's history. Yet another display of courage, skill and determination brought a fully deserved victory and tremendous credit is due to everyone associated with this magnificent achievement. It was a very special moment when Garrycastle's David O'Shaughnessy became the first Westmeath man to raise the newly-named Delaney Cup, and the club is privileged to have three outstanding players in David, Dessie and Gary who did so much to help fulfil this dream. And we're not forgetting Justin who joined the panel recently and will no doubt get the opportunity before long to make an impact.

Moments like this are to be treasured and celebrated, but there is more work to be done and let's hope the players and management are given the time and space to prepare for the next battle. Westmeath should fear no team at this stage and there is no reason why they cannot progress further. For the moment, we will all look forward to our sixth trip to Croke Park for the All-Ireland quarter final.

Iarmhi abu!!



Historic Victory for Garrycastle (1981)

GARRYCASTLE ..........1 - 4
BALLINAGORE ......... 0 - 3

History was created on Sunday last at Ballinagore when the newly formed Garrycastle G.A.A. club travelled to Ballinagore for their first Junior football League game against the local team. Conditions for good football were difficult, with a vicious cross wind, accompanied by sleet and rain, benefiting neither side.
Carrycastle were early into attack with Dan Murphy and Tony Hogan controlling the exchanges in the middle of the field. Inexperience and poor finishing by the forwards in the first quarter saw both sides scoreless until the 15th minute when Tony Hogan, gaining possession in the centre, raced thirty yards before sending the ball over the bar for the first score of the game and Garrycastle's first score in this competition. This was followed by another long range point by Dan Murphy in the 20th minute.
Ballinagore, sensing that they had a fight on their hands, tried desperately to come into the game at this stage. Having hit the upright in the 24th minute, a scoring shot by Donal Grehan was brilliantly saved by the Garrycastle 'keeper, Liam O'Connor, a feat he was to perform on every other occasion when tested throughout the match. Good defensive work by Jim King, Anton Berry and Kevin McCallum combined with inaccurate marksmanship by the Ballinagore forwards, kept the score at two points to no score until three minutes before the interval when in a rare break downfield, Tony Hogan was at the end of a passing movement which included Pius Johnson, Gerry O'Neill and Peter Killian to extend Garrycastle's lead to three points at half-time.

The second half started with a quick point by Pius Johnson before Ballinagore gained the upper hand at midfield and mounted attack after attack. Their half-back line of Connor, Robinson and Mahon were moving forward to assist their forwards. For twenty minutes they hounded the Garrycastle goal area. Only heroic defending by veterans Jim King and Fred Hewitt ably assisted by the other four youthful defenders who compensated for their lack of experience with a spirit of resilience and enthusiasm, saw Ballinagore with only three points when a Garrycastle comeback set the scene for a grand-slam finish.
The Garrycastle comeback was initiated by substitutes Paul Killian, Noel Rushe and P. Moran, who added renewed energy to their tiring colleagues. Then in the 27th minute Paul Killian raced onto a high centre from Roddy Hogan, catching the defence flatfooted, flicked the ball pass the goalkeeper Joe Leonard to set the seal on a fine victory for Garrycastle.

For Garrycastle it would be unfair to single out any individual performances. It was a team victory from Liam O'Connor in goal to Michael McCormack at corner forward, which won them the game. The mixture of youth and experience, if harnessed properly, should yield dividends in the future games. After the close contest with Ballinagore on Sunday last the Junior football team have a home fixture in Garrycastle (beside AnCo building) on Sunday next, 8th March at 3 p.m. versus Loughnavalley. 

The following players are asked to assemble at the club grounds at 2.30 p.m.: F. Hewitt, M. McCormack, M. Scanlon, S. McCormack, K. McCallum, N. Sharkey, G. O'Neill, R. Hogan, A. Berry, J. Francis, J. Nally, F. Finnegan, J. O'Rourke. D. Murphy, G. McCormack, J. Flynn, J. Meade, N. Ledwith, S. McDermott, P. Dully, Peter and Paul Killian, M. Costello, J. Moran, L. O'Connor, S. Killian, J. King, P. Johnston, N. Rushe, D. McCormack, O. McCormack, T. Hogan, J. Monaghan, C. O'Neill, K. McCormack.



Notice of First club underage programme - March, 1981 

The club will field teams in Under 12, 14 and 16 County football Championships. Training for boys from ten to sixteen years is at present being arranged. The area catered for by the club is the general area of St. Mary's parish outside the urban boundary — Clonbrusk, Coosan, Cornamagh, Cornamaddy, Cartrontroy, Garrycastle, Altown, Moydrum, Bonavalley, Willow Park, Fardrum, Clonbonny and Carrickobrien. Parents from the area who would like their children to get involved are invited to contact any club officer as soon as possible.

(This report was published in the Westmeath Independent on the 7th March, 1981, and was reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Independent)



Garrycastle coast to historic junior final win (1982)

GARRYCASTLE ............................................. 1 - 7
CASTLETOWN-FINEA ................................... 0 - 3

Comparative newcomers to the football scene, Garrycastle, created their own piece of history at wet and windy Cusack Park, Mullingar, on Sunday last when they annexed their first ever Westmeath Junior Football title in very impressive style against a Castletown-Finea team that never displayed the type of fluent football that helped them to an excellent win over St. Loman's in their semi-final encounter. Garrycastle, beaten in last year's semi-final by Killucan after a thrilling match, were favourites from very early on in the Championship to lift the title in 82. In their two years in existence they have brought in a new and exciting brand of football to the Junior grade and it was evident from soon after they affiliated to the G.A.A. that they would quickly win a major award. In their quarter-final match against neighbours Athlone they came from behind to win. Likewise in their semi-final battle with Castledaly they trailed for a long time. At one stage they were 1 -6 to 0 - 2 in arrears but a devastating last twenty minutes saw them account for Castledaly on a 1 - 11 to 1 - 6 scoreline. On Sunday last they came to Cusack Park fully bent on bringing the Junior Cup back to the banks of the Shannon. Their supporters also came well prepared and their flags and hats certainly livened up Cusack Park on a day darkened by torrential rain. From the moment referee Ignatius Fulham threw in the ball Garrycastle showed that they were all out for success. The Doolan brothers, John and James, held sway at midfield while behind them the experienced Freddie Hewitt, Tony Dunne and Martin Crowe easily contained the Castletown-Finea forward line. Up front the Garrycastle attackers looked very lively and while their final tally of 1 - 7 was not as high as their normal return it is worth noting that all their scores came from play.

EARLY GARRYCASTLE LEAD

By the end of the first quarter Garrycastle had raced into a four point lead and they added another before the losers got their first point in the 25th minute. At half-time the 'Castle were 0 — 6 to 0—1 clear and within four minutes of the resumption they were nine points ahead and well on their way to earning their ticket into Intermediate ranks. In those opening four minutes of the second period Garrycastle scored a goal and a point. From then on until the end they didn't add to their total. However, their nine point lead was sufficient as the losers could only manage a further two points. Overall the final was not a great one —the cross wind and driving rain contributed to this. It was interesting enough early on but as soon as the winners got their second half scores the final result was almost a foregone conclusion. In fairness to the Seamus Fagan inspired Finea lads they never gave up and had luck been on their side they could have been closer at the end. 

GARRYCASTLE TO THE FORE

Full forward Donie Hogan was involved in the early Garrycastle attacks. He hit one shot wide while another from him was well saved by Philip Brady. Oliver McCormack had Garrycastle's second wide in the fourth minute. The winners took the lead in the fifth minute when corner forward John Ledwith kicked an excellent point and from the kick out Ledwith was to strike again. Centre-half forward, Sean White, gained possession from the kick out and he placed Ledwith to score Garrycastle's second point. Mossy Dermody, who was well watched by Freddie Hewitt, tried for a goal in the seventh minute but his effort was saved by the alert Garrycastle goalkeeper, Liam O'Connor. Quick thinking led to the winners next score. The ball was moved upfield from the backline and when a free was awarded some 40 meters out Sean White took it immediately and found the unmarked Tony Hogan and from 20 meters Hogan scored a point. In the 15th minute the slick moving Garrycastle attack struck. This time team captain, Pius Hogan, set up Tony Hogan for a point. Wides followed from Oliver McCormack for Garrycastle and Martin McMyler and Sean Farrell for Castletown-Finea before the speedy Tony Hogan, who was causing havoc in the Castletown defence, scored his third point of the match in the 20th minute. Seamus Fagan was very prominent in the Finea defence and from one of his sallies upfield midfielder, Sean Farrell, was unlucky not to score as his shot went narrowly wide. It was corner forward Willie Brennan who notched Castletown-Finea's only point of the half when his overhead kick went straight between the posts. With two minutes of the half remaining wing back, Martin Crowe, went on a splendid 50 meter solo run and after dodging a couple of defenders he scored a great point for Garrycastle. The half ended with Finea shooting two wides, one from Johnny McCormack with a drop kick effort and the other from Jim Kearney.

GARRYCASTLE GET VITAL SCORES

Garrycastle got off to a lightning start on the resumption. Pius Johnson was in hard luck not to score when his shot hit the post. The winners continued to pile on the pressure and Pius Johnson scored their seventh point in the 33rd minute. A minute later they were really on the road to victory. Oliver McCormack's centre was punched against the post by Pius Johnson. The ball rebounded across the square and into the path of Donie Hogan who flicked it to the net. Castletown-Finea never recovered from those scores and while Seamus Fagan, Michael Dermody, Pat Cullen, Johnny McCormack, Sean Farrell and substitute Peter Curran battled away Garrycastle always looked the likely winners. The losers second point came in the 43rd minute when Peter Curran, on in place of Jim Keaney, kicked over a point. Donie Hogan and Peter Curran exchanged wides and then Tony Hogan hit the post. The ball came back out to Pius Johnson who somehow failed to score from about eight meters out. Play now became ragged and Garrycastle seemed content to just hold on to their lead. Defences had no trouble in dealing with their immediate opponents. The last score of the half fell to Willie Brennan in the 59th minute when he pointed a 25 meter free.

PERFORMANCES

Liam O'Connor had his best game for a long time for the winners and he dealt very capably with the shots that came his way, especially in the first half. Former Moate star, Freddie Hewitt, was a tower of strength at full back and he excelled when under pressure in the opening period. Corner backs Kevin McCallon and veteran Jim King were solid and safe defenders.
The half back line of Gerald O'Neill, Tony Dunne and Martin Crowe was safe and speedy and industrious when the need arose. Crowe's point was one of the highlights of the game. Midfielders John and James Dolan worked hard throughout. Up front Tony Hogan had a fantastic first half. His three points were well taken. John Ledwith who scored two valuable points always looked dangerous. Sean White never stopped going at centre half forward while Oliver McCormack was involved in the Garrycastle goal. Pius Johnson and Donie Hogan, two players with plenty of experience, caused many headaches in the Finea defence. Both got their names on the scoresheet. Substitute, Anton Berry, did not let the side down when he came on early in the second moiety.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Castletown-Finea had in Seamus Fagan the "man of the match'. Better known as a hurler with Castlepollard and Westmeath, Fagan was always in the right place at the right time and only for his con¬tribution Finea could have lost by a bigger margin. Others to play well in a Finea defence that sadly missed the services of Michael Kearney (away on his honeymoon) were Philip Brady, Michael Dermody, Paddy Halligan and in the second half, Pat Cullen. Sean Farrell and Johnny McCormack tried very hard at midfield. McCormack had a good second half but was inclined to drop kick the ball too often. As a result some of his passes went astray. The Finea attack never got going. Substitute, Peter Curran, Martin McMyler the youthful Adrian Woulfe and Michael Joe Browne grafted hard but this area would surely have, benefited if the tigerish and normally effective Mossy Dermody was moved out to the half forward line. While he was on in the second half Curran looked very sharp even though he was hampered by a finger injury that prevented him playing from the start.

Scorers for Garrycastle: T. Hogan 0 -3, D. Hogan 1 -0, J. Ledwith 0 -2, M. Crowe and
P. Johnson 0 —1 each.
Scorers for Castletown-Finea: W. Brennan 0 -2 and P. Curran 0-1.

Garrycastle: Liam O'Connor, Kevin McCallon, Freddie Hewitt, Jim King, Gerald O'Neill, Tony Dunne, Martin Crowe, James Doolan, John Doolan, Oliver McCormack, Sean White, Tony Hogan, John Ledwith, Donie Hogan and Pius Johnson (Capt.). Sub; Anton Berry for O. McCormack.

Castletown-Finea: Philip Brady, Sean Moore, Michael Dermody, Terry Moore, Pat Cullen, Paddy Halligan (Capt.), Seamus Fagan, Johnny McCormack, Sean Farrell, Michael John Browne, Jim Kearney, Martin McMyler, Adrian Woulfe, Mossy Dermodv and Willie Brennan. Subs; Peter Curran for J. Kearney and Pat Browne for T. Moore.

Referee: Mr Ignatius Fulham - St. Fintan's.

Footnote: After the game Rev Ulic Troy, Chairman, Westmeath County Board GAA presented the Junior Cup to Pius Johnson, the captain of the Garrycastle team.

(This report was published by the WESTMEATH EXAMINER, on SATURDAY, OCTOBER 9th, 1982, and was reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Examiner)




Garrycastle master Ballingore in Junior Final (1993)

Garrycastle ............. 0 - 9
Ballinagore ............. 0 - 5
by SHANE SCANLON

Garrycastle lifted the Westmeath Junior Football title on Sunday when they mastered the brave challenge of Ballinagore in this keenly-contested final replay at Pairc Chiarain, Athlone. Played in ideal conditions, the game produced a thrilling finale, with the outcome not being decided until the final minute when Donal Ryan grabbed an insurance point for Garrycastle to put them four points in front. Up until then, the Garrycastle following had been on tender-hooks as their side, who had led for most of the game, weathered a late rally from Ballinagore who sought in vain to bring the game into extra-time. But, for the third year running, it was not to be Ballinagore's day. Having gone so near, they spurned two great goal chances in the final five minutes to level the match and though they never gave up, Garrycastle always looked like holding out. That said, Ballinagore certainly could not begrudge the Garrycastle men victory. Only once in the match did the south Westmeath side trail the Ballinagore men, and they always looked the more threatening coming forward. They look the game to Ballinagore from the outset - putting together some great passing movements, which in truth should have yielded greater dividends. Indeed, Garrycastle could have been rueing these missed chances at the end of the day if it weren't for the superb reflexes of their goalkeeper, Alan Reidy, who brought off a tremendous save in the 55th minute to deny Pat Deegan. Garrycastle's short passing style down the wings contrasted markedly with their opponent’s direct approach down the centre, and in the end, it proved the more effective on the day.
Their midfield duo of Gary Sammon and Ciaran Ryan had just the better of Paul Seery and Brendan Robinson over the 60 minutes, but it must be said both men were helped enormously by the roving wing-forwards, Donal Ryan and Jamie Murtagh. At the back, Joe Dunning and Oliver Nicholson were in top form - never giving the Ballinagore half-forward line an inch - while Michael Mulvihill turned in a tremendous display at left-full back. Ballinagore free-taker Dermot Connell, proved the best of his side's forwards on the day, a statistic that Pat Deegan could have laid claim if lady luck had not deserted him so cruelly. Elsewhere, Ballinagore were best served in the back line by Peter Robinson, Ger Connell, Stephen Brudell and plucky midfielder Paul Seery.

OPENING POINT

After a quiet start, Garrycastle opened the scoring in the 4th minute when Donal Ryan tapped neatly over the bar following some good work between Stephen O'Reilly and Rowan Mulvihill. The sides were level five minutes later when Paul Seery pointed from just inside the 40-metre line after Jimmy Marshall and Dermot Connell had combined well down the left. Ballinagore came close to finding the net a minute later when Norman Maxwell was put through by Pat Deegan, but his effort was parried away by Alan Reidy. However, they were awarded a free when Reidy was adjudged to have picked the ball off the ground and Dermot Connell made no mistake from straight in front of the posts. Garrycastle replied with a pointed free from the boot of Gary Sammon in the 16th minute, and they regained the lead soon after when Jamie Murtagh latched onto Ciaran Ryan's free and cooly slotted over, despite the close attentions of Sean Claffey. Ballinagore were back level again in the 23rd minute when Dermot Connell kicked a superb point, but this was to be his side's final point of the half as Garrycastle moved up a gear and tormented their opponents' back line with a series of slick passing movements.

PURPLE PATCH

The centre-forward duo of Rowan Mulvihill and Fergal Nugent combined well during this purple patch, but by half-time their hard-working efforts had only yielded two further points. Mulvihill got the first of these points in the 26th minute when he pointed a 40-meter free following a foul on Gary Sammon. Two minutes before half-time, a great move involving Donal Ryan, Murtagh and Mulvihill paved the way for Nugent to kick his first and only point of the match. This gave Garrycastle a two-point lead (0-5 to 0-3) at the interval.

Within a minute of the re-start, Stephen O'Reilly increased their advantage with a well-taken point as Garrycastle continued to have the best of the midfield exchanges. They could have put the game beyond Ballinagore's reach seven minutes later when Ciaran Ryan was put clear on goal. However, the Garrycastle midfielder lost possession just as he was about to shoot and though Rowan Mulvihill was first to the breaking ball, his weakly struck shot proved no trouble for Stephen Brundell. A minute later, Garrycastle moved four points in front when Donal Ryan pointed a free from wide on the left, but this was cancelled out shortly after by Dermot Connell's pointed free. Connell reduced the deficit to just two points in the 44th minute when he guided the ball between the posts from deep in the left corner-forward's position after latching onto Paul Seery's neat pass. Four minutes later, Ballinagore nearly grabbed an equalising goal when Norman Maxwell found Pat Deegan unmarked on the "20" after catching Sean Robinson's high ball. However, the corner-forward saw his dipping shot whistle inches wide of Alan Reidy's left hand post. Garrycastle regained their three point advantage in the 53rd minute when wing-back Joe Dunning burst down the right and curled the ball straight over the bar. As the minutes ticked away, it looked as if Ballinagore had given their all, but they dug deep in the closing seven minutes to put the Garrycastle back line under severe pressure. Their late rally looked to have found its reward in the 55th minute when Jarlet Mahon put Pat Deegan clear down the left. The corner-forward soloed through on goal and rifled a rasping shot towards the far corner - only to be denied by the brilliant reflexes of Alan Reidy who tipped the ball away to safety. With two minutes remaining, Ballinagore had another chance to pull the game out of the bag when Norman Maxwell linked up with Sean Robinson, but just when he seemed certain to score he lost possession and Reidy rushed out of goal clear the danger.
Ballinagore continued to press forward right up until the final whistle, but the issue was put beyond doubt when Donal Ryan kicked his third point of the game in the final minute to give his side a deserving victory.

Garrycastle: Alan Reidy, David Dalton, Martin Jameson, Michael Mulvihill, Joe Dunning, Redmond Murphy, Oliver Nicholson; Garry Sammon, Ciaran Ryan, Jamie Murtagh, Stephen O'Reilly, Donal Ryan, Rowan Mulvihill, Michael Brennan, Fergal Nugent. Sub - Jim McHugh for Michael Brennan (45 mins).

Ballinagore: Stephen Brundell, Sean Claffey, John Durkan, Ger Connell, Gordan Alexander, Peter Robinson, Jimmy Marshall, Brendan Robinson, Paul Seery, Sean Robinson, Norman Maxwell, Dermot Connell, Rory O'Brien, Jim Miller, Pat Deegan. Subs - Jarlet Mahon for Jim Miller (22 mins) and Martin Seery for Jarlet Mahon (56 mins).

Scorers – Garrycastle: Donal Ryan (0-3, one free), Joe Dunning, Gary Sammon, Rowan Mulvihill, Jamie Murtagh, Fergal Nugent and Stephen O'Reilly (0-1) each.
Ballinagore: Dermot Connell (0-4, three frees) and Paul Seery (0-1).

Referee - P. Murray (St. Joseph's)

(The above report was published in the Westmeath Independent on Friday, 22nd October, 1993 and has been reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Independent)



Garrycastle Bring Féile Na nÓg Title to Westmeath (1995)

The under-14 footballers of Garrycastle made history in Co. Mayo last weekend by winning Division 2 of the All-Ireland Feile na nOg competition. This is a remarkable achievement by any standards and gives another great boost to underage football in the county. The only previous success achieved by a Westmeath club was in 1991 when St. Loman's won the Division 4 title. One of the effects of that triumph was that Garrycastle, as Westmeath representatives, were assigned to Division 2 for the 1992 competition, where they have competed every year since by winning four Westmeath Feile titles in a row. Despite some brilliant performances over the past three years, outright success had eluded the club, but all that changed last Sunday in McHale Park, Castlebar, when Seanie O'Donoghue was presented with the Feile trophy after a nerve-wracking finale to a dramatic competition. It all began last Friday when Garrycastle invaded the North Mayo town of Crossmolina, home club of such well known personalities as Dr. Mick Loftus, past President of the GAA; John Maughan, the famous coach-manager and former Offaly great Sean Lowry. Sadly, Garrycastle found the community in mourning as a result of the tragic death in the USA of Ronan Maughan, RIP, whose funeral look place on Saturday. To their credit, the local club personnel still managed to extend a very warm welcome to their Westmeath guests, and indeed, for the entire weekend their hospitality and friendliness could not have been surpassed.

Early on Saturday Garrycastle faced their hosts in the opening game. Completely dominating the first half, Garrycastle managed only a pointed free from Sean O'Donoghue before the Mayo lads snatched a goal just before the break. Garrycastle were facing a two-point deficit for the second half, but a piece of football magic changed the complexion of the game. A sweeping passing move started by Fergal Nee in goal, and with five other Garrycastle players involved, ended with a glorious shot by Tom McHugh to the roof of the net. The Garrycastle lads never looked back, and further goals from O'Donoghue, McHugh, and James Duignan helped them to a 4-5 to 1-0 win.
Next in line was the nearby Kiltane club, fresh from a famous league victory over the mighty Ballina Stephenites the previous week. Despite wasting a lot of good possession Garrycastle played some fine football in this game and spurred on by goals from Thomas O'Connor (2) and Stephen Kenny, they ran out winners by 3-6 to 1-1. This set up a showdown against the Tyrone cham¬pions Errigal Ciaran (home of the famous Peter Caravan, among others). The Northern team had also recorded two wins over Crossmolina and Kiltane, but with a scoring aggregate which was vastly inferior to Garrycastle's. The O'Neill County lads played some delightful football and Garrycastle's defence was stretched to the limit as they tried to cope with swift counter attacks. After trailing by a point at half time, Garrycastle hit the front with an opportunist goal from Keith Shevlin. As the final whistle approached Garrycastle held a four point advantage. When Errigal Ciaran scrambled a goal and then secured a draw in the final seconds, Garrycastle seemed to have let their chance slip. However, in accordance with the competition rules, the team with the highest scoring record qualified for the semi-final. Garrycastle could empathise with the Tyrone boys, having suffered the same fate themselves last year in Kerry.

On Saturday evening the Garrycastle party travelled south to Kiltimagh to face Portlaoise in the semi-final. The team sustained a morale-shattering blow before the game when James Duignan had to step down with stomach cramps. Portlaoise laid siege to the Garrycastle goal in the opening minutes and only heroic work by Padraig Rattigan and Fergal Nee kept their team in the game. Duignan recovered to help settle the defence, and Seanie O'Donoghue battling away at midfield, scored a vital point to keep them in touch. However, Garrycastle still trailed by 0-1 to 1-3 at the break. With only 15 minutes to go it was a formidable lead. Courage and inspiration were needed and the team was not found wanting. Garrycastle' s second half performance was undoubtedly their best of the weekend, and probably one of the best ever from any underage team. A well taken Derek Daly goal set the scene. Seanie O'Donoghue them embarked on an astounding exhibition of point scoring, kicking over the bar from all angles to narrow the gap. Keith Shevlin chipped in with two more beauties, and amazingly Garrycastle held a three point advantage over their bewildered opponents. When O'Donoghue scored another special from a sideline kick it was all over, but Derek Daly put the icing on the cake with his second goal and Garrycastle were through to the final by 2-8 to I-5.

It was a proud moment Garrycastle on Sunday when team paraded onto the McHale Park sod for the final. Their opponents were St. Patrick's for Cullyhana in South Armagh, home club of the late Cardinal Tomas O Fiach. The Armagh lads had been very impressive in their semi-final win over St. Eunan's, Letterkenny and Garrycastle clearly had a fight on their hands. Both teams were understandably nervous, but John O'Shea settled Garrycastle with an early point. However, they were rocked by a breakaway goal when the Cullyhana corner forward got behind the full back line. A pointed free from Seanie O'Donoghue cut the deficit and Garrycastle trailed by 0-2 to 1-0 at the break. Cullyhana's stout defence continued to thwart Garrycastle's incessant attacks until John Dunning inspired his colleagues with a great individual point. Soon afterward, Seanie O'Donoghue put them in front with a long range effort from play. This lead was retained until the closing minutes when the Armagh lads scored a great equaliser, so extra time of ten minutes was required. Garrycastle completely dominated this period but just could not get the vital score. A few good point chances went astray, and Tom McHugh was foiled by a brilliant save by the goalkeeper. So it ended level at 0-4 to 1-1 and the rules dictated that a penalty shoot out should decide the final. In the tension-filled atmosphere, Gary Dolan and Keith Shevlin slotted home expertly, while Fergal Nee produced two saves, one of them an outstanding effort. It was left to Justin McAteer to clinch the title and he duly obliged by kicking over the bar which signalled wild celebrations for the Garrycastle players and supporters. In the ecstasy of the occasion they did not forget their unfortunate opponents, who got a well deserved and generous round of applause as they ascended the steps of the stand. When Seanie O'Donoghue received the cup from Connaught Council Chairman, P. J. McGrath, the cheering could be heard back in Garrycastle and the green and red flags were waving madly in familiar territory.

The reception which the team received on arrival home on Sunday evening was unforgettable. Apart front the bonfires and the bunting, the cheering and the excitement of young and old told its own story. Everyone appreciated the significance of the occasion, the greatest day ever in the relatively short history of the club. Indeed, it is probably the greatest victory to date by any Westmeath team. To win a national title when competing with the best from counties such as Tyrone, Armagh, Mayo, Laois and Donegal is something that cannot be underestimated, and Garrycastle are rightly proud of such a momentous achievement. 

It is important that the details of the weekend be put on the record. The following are the results of Garrycastle's games: 
Garrycastle 4-5, Crossmolina 1-0 (T. McHugh 2-0, S. O'Donoghue 1-2, J. Duignan 1-1, K. Shevlin 0-1, S. Kenny 0-1)
Garrycastle 3-6, Kiltane 1-1 (T. O'Connor 2-0, S. Kenny 1-0, K. Shevlin 0-2, J. Duignan 0-2, S. O'Donoghue 0-1, D. Rushe 0-1)
Garrycastle 1-2, Errigal Ciaran 1-2 (K. Shevlin 1-0, S. O'Donoghue 0-1, S. Kenny 0-1) 
Garrycastle 2-8, Portlaoise 1-5 (D. Daly 2-0, S. O'Donoghue 0-6, K. Shevlin 0-2) 
Garrycastle 0-4, St. Patrick's 1-1 (S. O'Donoghue 0-2, J. O'Shea 0-1, J. Dunning 0-1).

Final panel: Fergal Nee, Padraig Rattigan, James Duignan, Colman Gantley, Robert Shine, Justin McAteer, Gareth Ruane, Seanie O'Donoghue, Stephen Kenny, Thomas O'Connor, John Dunning, John O'Shea, Damien Rushe, Derek Daly, Keith Shevlin, Grahame Moodley, Tom McHugh, Gary Dolan, Cian Mulvihill, Kenny Browne, Michael Harney. Subs: Doran Harte, Jonathan O'Rourke, Jonathan Grehan, Declan Holohan, Padraig Cosgrove, Pearse Burke, Paul Nally, Derek Turley, Eoin Kiveney, Warren Samuels, John Murphy. John O'Shaughnessy and Conor O'Loughlin are on the Continent and missed out on the weekend while Donal Scanlon is injured at present.

(This report was published by the Westmeath Independent, on Friday, 14th July,1995, and was reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Independent)



Jubilant Scenes as Garrycastle Capture Féile Title (1995)

by MICHAEL FINN

There were jubilant scenes in Athlone last weekend, as the Garrycastle under-14 football team made a triumphant return home as Feile na n-Og champions.

Bonfires blazed in Garrycastle, as parents turned out in large numbers to welcome their brave charges home. A huge cavalcade escorted the team back into the town on their arrival. Present at the welcoming ceremony at Garrycastle were the three founder members of the club - Seamus Nugent, Dan Hogan and Jack Veale - who were absolutely thrilled with the victory.

The Feile team won Division Two of the All-Ireland competition sponsored by Coca Cola, held this year in Crossmolina, Co Mayo. Over 70 teams took part -including teams from London and New York. The Westmeath champions had to fend off the challenge of teams from Tyrone, Armagh, Donegal, Tipperary, Laoise and Louth to secure the prestigious title.

And how they did it! Playing the Armagh representatives in the final, they were level after normal and extra-time, so the competition was decided by a penalty shoot-out - making it one of the only such victories in the history of the association. Ironically it was young Justin McAteer who scored the winning goal in the shoot-out. He had flown over from England (where he had attended a family wedding) especially for the match, and then returned after he had kicked his team into the history books. Team captain Sean O'Donoghue from Willow Park, Athlone, accepted the Feile cup from the Chairman of the Connaught Council., Mr. P J. McGrath. Garrycastle G.AA. are no strangers to success at under-age level, but this is the first time in the club's history that they have won the Feile title. They had qualified from Westmeath before, but have never won in the All-Ireland series. The team is managed by Michael Gantley, and he is assisted by Tom O'Donoghue, Gary Sammon, Niall Ward and Martin O’Donoghue. According to club Secretary, Dermot Ryan, this victory is great for the club. "We have just opened a new pitch and we are building a new clubhouse. This victory has given us a tremendous lift" he said, adding that they hoped to have the clubhouse completed by the end of the year. "Westmeath football seems to be on the up, and our win is another small boost - every little bit helps".

Fielding two adult teams - intermediate and junior - as well as teams in all the underage grades, Garrycastle's inaugural win in the Feile competition sets them up nicely for the future. The Feile team's welcome home was organised by Gerry O'Neill, Michael Scanlon, Peter Nally and others, with assistance from Gardaí Joe Kelly and Michael O'Shaughnessy.

(This report was published by the Westmeath Independent on Friday, 14th July, 1995, and was reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Independent)



Historic AGM for Garrycastle Club (1996)

The recent annual general meeting of Garrycastle GAA Club was an historic occasion for the club, as it was the first time that the club held its AGM on its own premises. The opening of the new clubhouse was the big event of the year, and even though a lot of work remains to be done before the building is completed the committee room proved to be an ideal and comfortable venue for the big attendance.

In his report to the meeting, Secretary, Dermot Ryan, paid tribute to all who had helped to bring to fruition the work on the clubhouse. He singled out Seamus Glennon, Jack Veale and Seamus Nugent for their outstanding contributions. He emphasised the importance of completing the building as soon as possible. In addition a lot of work need to be done on the pitch, especially in erecting high nets behind the goals. The importance of fundraising to finance these further developments was highlighted and tributes were paid to members who had organised the successful club lotto each week.

On the playing fields the big talking point was the championship success at minor level, which atones for previous final defeats in this grade. This team has achieved the unique distinction of winning all championship and league titles from Under-12 up to minor level without losing a single game, and it was noted that these players had already made an impact at adult level. Tributes were also paid to the Under-12 team which retained the county title defeating St. Loman's in a thrilling final. The other underage teams also acquitted themselves well, with the Under-14s reaching the county final and the Under-16s winning the St. Brigid's Tournament early in the year. At adult level there was understandable disappointment at losing the first round of the championship, but the performance of the team in the league and Feis Cup gave grounds for optimism for the future. The Intermediate team retained their place in Division 1 of the ACL, and had made history by reaching the final of the Feis Cup. They have also qualified for the final of the Doon tournament.

On financial matters, it was accepted that the running of the club is now a huge business, and that the amount of money required to fund the ongoing developments means that the club cannot survive without a steady income. This is being provided through the weekly club lotto and it is vital that members appreciate what is involved here and give more assistance to those who are devoting so much of their spare time each week. Extra help is also needed for the general administration of the club and to look after the 13 club teams who played about 130 games during the year. The meeting noted a big improvement in the number of paid-up members but a warning went out to defaulters that non-payment of fees will no longer be tolerated. The need to look after club equipment, especially jerseys and footballs, was also highlighted, and members were urged to be more vigilant in this regard.

In his address to the meeting Chairman, Seamus Glennon, said it was an historic day for the club to hold the AGM in the new clubhouse. It was clear from the reports of both the Secretary and the Treasurer that a number of people are giving a huge personal commitment to promote the interests of the club. More than £120,000 has been spent on the clubhouse to date, and this had been made possible by steady fundraising over a few years. While big sums of money have to be repaid he was confident that these debts would be wiped out before long. The club was in a healthy state and nowhere was this more evident than in the recent displays of the Intermediate team who had recorded some great wins recently in the league, Feis Cup, and the Doon tournament. He thanked everyone who had contributed to the progress of the club, with a special word for those who provide transport to matches. He pointed out the highlights of 1996 as the opening of the dressing rooms and clubhouse, and the great victory in the minor championship. In conclusion he expressed gratitude to FAS, the ESB, Westmeath County Council and the National Irish Bank for their help and co-operation in the past year.

The following were elected to serve the club for 1997: Presidents, Dan Hogan and Paddy McCallon; Vice-Presidents, Jim McHugh, Tony Fox and Moss Muldoon; Chairman, Seamus Glennon; Vice-Chairman, Matt Ryan; Secretary, Dermot Ryan; Treasurer, John Henson; Asst. Treasurers, Seamus Nugent and Michael Mannion; PRO, Dermot Ryan; Oifigeach naGaeilge, Rhoda Hogan; Registrar, Matt Ryan; Youth Officer, Donal Ryan. 

It was decided to set up an underage committee to co-ordinate all aspects of underage football in the club. The appointment of an Assistant Secretary, who will be responsible for underage fixtures, etc., was deferred to the next meeting, as was the appointment of members to the other sub-committees.

(The above report was published in the Westmeath Independent on Friday, 29th November, 1996 and has been reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Independent)



Garrycastle worthy Winners of Westmeath Intermediate Championship (1997)

Garrycastle .......................................................... 2 - 7
Ballinagore .......................................................... 0 - 5

At Castletown-Geoghegan on Sunday last (26th October) Garrycastle emerged Dawn Dairies Intermediate Football Championship winners, when they had a decisive win in this replayed final against Ballinagore. Like many replays the game did not measure up to their drawn encounter and on this occasion Ballinagore just could not step up their game. It was a disappointing day for Ballinagore, who were also runners-up last year. On Sunday they were below their best, as it was one of those days when nothing goes right. Short a few players through injury problems, they were having problems in this regular and then in the first-half their accuracy, especially from frees just would not come right on the day.
That said however, Garrycastle were worthy winners and they fulfilled the general opinion before the start of the championship, that they were the team likely to come out on top at the end of the campaign. Their displays in the league where they played in Division 1 were promising and they surprised some senior teams last year and as well reached the final of the '96 Feis Cup, when it was still composed of Intermediate and Senior teams. They should do well in Senior ranks and their good standard of a fast open game is both entertaining and effective.

If Garrycastle want to analyse Sunday's game the one factor that may cause them concern was their failure in the second half to put good outfield play on the score-board until twenty minutes had elapsed. In the last ten minutes of play they added four points but those twenty minutes of a score¬less period caused them to be concerned at that stage of the game. They were cushioned by those two goals scored in the first-half and these goals were influential in enabling them to alter dominance of the play. In the first half positional switches that Garrycastle made worked out well for them. Enda Nugent came out from full forward to make the centre half berth and Colm Holohan moved in to take his place, David O'Shaughnessy moved from centre field to centre-half forward, and this proved a decisive move indeed as David caused problems for the Ballinagore defence. Ciaran Ryan moved to centre field and Merry Talbot to half back. Stephen O'Reilly had much to contribute at centre field to this game and his display had a bearing on the teams’ better movement. Garrycastle got the upper hand when those moves worked out well and in the last ten minutes of the first-half they added 2-1 to their score, and this breakthrough proved to be the foundation of their success. 

BALLINAGORE BATTLED BRAVELY

To the end Ballingore battled bravely, but their short passing game was too often contained that pass too far and they lost possession or were bottled up as a result. Michael Ennis just could not get his scoring touch right with frees and he was off target with a number of efforts, which on a better day he would have put on the scoreboard. Under a deal of pressure the defence battled hard to try and keep the opposing attack to a limited scope and Louis Ennis and Peter Heraty in the pivotal positions both played their hearts out in their efforts to hold the defence together. At centre field Norman Maxwell and Peter Robinson lined up well in their passing movements were far too often carried that step too far and more direct methods were needed when the goal post were in sight. To the credit of the team they played with spirit, until the end and when they had to lose they did so in admirable sporting manner. At the conclusion of the game, the championship trophy was presented to the Garrycastle captain, Enda Nugent, by Denis Coyne the Football Board Chairman.

BALLINAGORES' GOOD START

There was hardly any wind factor and Norman Maxwell set up the first scoring move when he sent to Jarlath Mahon who was fouled 45 mts out, and Michael Ennis sent the free, out of his hand over the bar for the opening score of the game in the 3 rd minute. A Garrycastle free also 45 mts out, was sent wide by Rowan Mulvihill. In the 7th minute Garrycastle drew level when the centre field pair combined and a well directed ball from Stephen O'Reilly found David O'Shaughnessy and his parting drive skimmed off the crossbar and over for a point, as a spell of Ballinagore attack brought no score, Michael Ennis from play and form a fee was off target. Ciaran Ryan stopped further pressure and Garrycastle broke out of defence to launch an attacking move and from a Rowan Mulvihill pass David O'Shaughnessy hit the woodwork and the ball was cleared. David was impeded and from the resultant free Rowan Mulvihill sent over the bar to take the lead in the 17th minute a long range free was sent wide by Michael Ennis, but then Ballinagore came back and a move involving Cathal Ennis, Norman Maxwell and finally Michael Ennis was finished over the bar by Peter Robinson to level the score in the 19th minute. The last ten minutes of this first half was a decisive spell that laid the foundation for Garrycastle to go on and win. David O'Shaughnessy now at No. 11 played a shot into the net for a great goal. A Ballinagore counter attack involving Jarlath Mahon, Peter Robinson and Michael Ennis resulted in a free, but Michael's scoring form just would not come right for him and the free went wide, as did another free by him immediately afterwards Garrycastle added a point to their lead when Meredith Talbot intercepted a pass and soloed forward to finish over the bar. In the 28th minute Garrycastle had their second goal when Eamonn Cunnane crossed the ball from the left into the path of Alan Daly who despatched it to the net. In an effort to respond Louis Ennis and Peter Heraty broke from defence to set up a move which was finished wide by Jarlet Mahon. The score at half time Garrycastle 2 - 3 Ballinagore 0 - 2.

SECOND HALF

From the restart of play Danny Ward came on for Jimmy Marshall in the Ballinagore attack and for Garrycastle Fergal Nugent came on for Ollie Nicholson. Michael Ennis and Sean Robinson switched position in the attack, Michael now in the square and Sean out on the half line of attack. Both sides were off target in early scoring efforts with Michael Ennis from a free and then at the other end Colm Holohan and Alan Daly, all wide of the posts with their finishing efforts. Six minutes after the restart a free to Ballinagore was sent over the bar by Michael Ennis and now the chance to claw back the lead looked possible. But a revival was not forthcoming as the game proceeded. For the next fourteen minutes no further score came from either side. Balliagore had another wide and Garrycastle had three in this spell. Gerry Claffey replaced Sean Robinson in the Ballinagore attack. It must have been a relief to Carrycastle mentors that these two goals in the first-half gave them a lead they were now finding it difficult to add to.

BROKE DEADLOCK

At last in the 50th minute they broke the deadlock and a point from Colm Holohan gave them their first second half score Colm was again in action and he was impeded, with Rowan Mulvihill sending over the bar from the free Garrycastle were now taking command in all sectors and a ball sent to the square was pulled wide by Alan Daly. Stephen O'Reiliy, Alan Daly and Meredith Talbot then sent them forward again for Colm Holohan - to score another point. Dermot Connell came on for Cathal Ennis, but Garrycastle kept pressing to add an other point. When David O'Shaughnessy placed Rowan Mulvihill to notch their last score of the game. Garry Sammon came on for Eamonn Cunnane and in the closing minutes Ballinagore battling bravely to the end forced a free conceded on Crisotoir Ennis, which Michael Ennis sent over the bar. Michael Ennis and Peter Robinson combined to set put Crisotoir Ennis to score the last point of the game. The final whistle saw the scoreboard read; Garrycastle 2 - 7, Ballinagore 0 - 5.

Scores for Garrycastle: David O'Shaughnessy 1-1, Alan Daly 1-0, Rowan Mulvihill 0-3 (2pts from frees), Colm Holohan 0-2, Meredith Talbot 0-1.
Scores for Ballingore: Michael Ennis 0-3 (from frees), Peter Robinson 0-1 and Criostroir Ennis 0-1.

Teams Garrycastle: Cathal Mullin, Michael Mulvihill, Martin Jameson, Edmund Naughton, Ciaran Ryan, Ollie Nicholson, Karl Henson, David O'Shaughnessy, Stephen O'Reilly, Alan Daly, Meredith Talbot, Colm Holohan, Rowan Mulvihill, Enda Nugent (captain) and Eamon Cunnane. Subs: Fergal Nugent for Ollie Nicholson, Garry Sammon for Eamonn Cunnane.

Ballinagore: Stephen Brundell, Sean Claffey, Louis Ennis (Captain), Enda McCann, Crisotoir Ennis, Peter Heraty, Ger Connell, Norman Maxwell, Peter Robinson, Cathal Ennis, Michael Ennis, Gordon Alexander, Jimmy Marshall, Sean Robinson, Jarlath Mahon. Subs: Danny Ward for Jimmy Marshall, Gerry Claffey for Sean Robinson, Dermot Connell for Cathal Ennis.

Referee John Mulligan (Ballynacargy).

(This report was published in the Westmeath Independent on Friday, 31st October, 1997 and was reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Independent).



Garrycastle Make History And Take County Title At First Attempt (2001)

BY KIERAN CALVIN

GARRYCASTLE….............................................. 1 - 9
TYRRELLSPASS................................................... 0 - 11

So much for the form book and the dubious science of punditry. Garrycastle tore the form book to shreds with a magnificent and highly merited victory over warm favourites Tyrrellspass in their first Westmeath SFC final at Cusack Park, Mullingar, on Sunday last. This was a terrific achievement for the club which first took part in club competition in 1981. The club's underage successes have produced a rich harvest that bore bountiful fruit on Sunday. Garrycastle were unquestionably the better team on the day. They appeared to be hungrier from the start and most of the 50:50 battles went their way. The hunger for victory was coursing through their veins throughout. The final score does not reflect their dominance for long periods. Because, of some profligacy, they had to endure a very nervous finish to the game with the referee playing an incredible 36 and a half minutes in the second half. In all, the winners kicked 14 wides compared to the losers 5. It was very much a collective effort by all the Garrycastle players. They displayed great determination, courage and composure under pressure. It is also a fantastic triumph for Martin McCabe to deliver the county title in his first year as manager and his team of selectors, Jack Veale, Michael Gantley and Gary Sammon. Captain David O'Shaughnessy was immense in midfield.

His fielding was majestic and his workrate voracious. He made some vital catches when they were needed and gets the nod for man-of-the-match. However if he had the lead role in the drama he was ably supported. In defence the entire full-back line excelled particularly in the second half when the pressure was on. John O'Shaughnessy, Karl Henson and Doran Harte won vital ball and made it difficult for the much vaunted Tyrrellspass forward line. The Tyrrellspass attack had to perform in a claustrophobic environment that stifled the brio they have shown throughout this Championship campaign.

Seanie O'Donoghue had one of his finest ever games for his club. Not only did he win a lot of possession but he used it wisely. The ultra versatile Justin McAteer made the switch from centre-forward to centre-back with ease. Enda Mulvihill tackled and worked hard throughout. James Duignan came good in the second half and his use of possession was always creative. Both of the Ryan brothers, Ciaran and Donal, were excellent with Donal contributing two points. Des Dolan may have had an shaky start in terms of shooting but cream always rises to the top and his three second half points had class written all over them. His brother Gary kicked two good points in the first half when Carrycastle were struggling to find the target. Despite finding it difficult against Barry Murphy, Alan Daly still managed to score the all-important goal in the second half. In the final analysis, it was the decisive score. Noel Galvin caught some valuable ball playing in a deep role. Substitutes Paul Dillon, Paddy Redmond and Rowan Mulvihill all contributed handsomely when introduced. While it was Garrycastle's day, one has to feel a measure of sympathy for Tyrrellspass who have lost their second county final in a row. Like Meath in the All-Ireland final, they probably were disadvantaged by winning their semi-final so comprehensively. Barry Murphy, Shane Arthur, Adrian Corcoran (particularly in the second half), Martin Flanagan and Mark Staunton were most prominent in fighting their cause.
The unfortunate injury to Padraig Rattigan necessitated some realignment of Garrycastle resources. Gary Dolan was the man to come in to the forward line with Justin McAteer going from centre-forward to centre-back. 

HUNGRY AND ALERT GARRYCASTLE

Garrycastle set the tone straight away with O'Shaughnessy knocking the ball down for his mid-field partner. A quick ball into Alan Daly and Garrycastle had a free which Des Dolan hit wide. The same player was off target again before he opened the scoring in the 4th minute after his brother was fouled. David Murphy picked up a yellow card for the infringement. Martin Flanagan replied with a well-taken point and Mark Staunton added a point from a free. Garrycastle were win¬ning the majority of breaks and were playing with greater urgency. However when Des Dolan hit his third uncharacteristic wide, one wondered if it was going to be one of those days. An alert Gary Dolan settled his side when he popped over after the Tidy Town defence failed to clear. The same player added a lovely point to leave his side 0-3 to 0-2 up after 15 minutes. The green and red outfit's insatiable workrate was constantly in evidence. However, as a spectacle, the game was riddled with stoppages in the opening half meaning flowing football was difficult to achieve. A coolly converted point by Donal Ryan and a wonderful long range free by Des Dolan extended 'Castle's lead to 3 points after 26 minutes. In between those scores Des Dolan, who expressed his displeasure about a number of refereeing decisions, picked up a yellow card for dissent. Martin Flanagan moved out around midfield to secure possession and he became more influential. For the first time the Tyrrellspass attack opened up Carrycastle but Cathal Mullin was typically agile in goal. A garryowen like effort by Michael Carley went between the posts and a injury-time free by Staunton gave Tyrrellspass half time parity which on the balance of play they did not deserve. In the first half, Garrycastle kicked four wides to their opponents' one and on the basis of being level with less possession, the '99 champions were entitled to be happier. If the prevailing view was that their experience would sway the outcome in the second half, Garrycastle had other ideas.
Again Garrycastle won possession from the throw-in. After Alan Daly kicked a wide from an acute angle, Des Dolan took advantage of his brother's good pass and pointed off his left foot.

DALY'S VITAL GOAL

In the 33rd minute, Garrycastle grabbed the critical goal. Donal Ryan went on a forceful run and found Gary Dolan who passed inside to Alan Daly. Daly showed good thinking to palm the ball to the corner of the net past a hapless John Hyland. Tyrrellspass were clearly stung by this strike and replied with two quick frees by John Corcoran and Martin Flanagan. They also introduced Colm Murphy in an effort to change the game. Garrycastle were still winning a lot of possession but the wides were mounting. However, Des Dolan showed the way with a darting run and kick off his right foot. The wides malaise then infected Tyrrellspass and they registered three in quick succession. For that credit must go to the Garrycastle defence for making it so difficult for the Tyrrellspass attack to shoot. However, midway through the second half, they had to thank their custodian for expertly smothering an effort on goal by a marauding Dan Gavin. Des Dolan's attitude in the second half showed a sea change from the first. Not only was he an attacking threat but he was tracking back and he produced one crucial block-down. But Tyrrellspass were still well in there and a Staunton free left just two in it with 12 minutes remaining. However the Tyrrellspass attack was prone to over elaboration
in the second half. Donal Ryan showed the way for 'Castle bursting forward and blasting over the bar. This was a vital point but it could easily have been a goal.
A Flanagan '45 again narrowed the gap but Des Dolan responded with arguably the best point in the game after good work by James Duignan. This score in the 26th minute was to prove the winners' last. They had to survive over 10 more minutes of pressure and their supporters the unbearable tension that went with it. Garrycastle had a couple of chances to extend their lead but couldn't take them and the threat of a Tyrrellspass goal deciding the outcome loomed large. However points by Flanagan and John Corcoran were all Tyrrellspass could
muster. The Garrycastle defence performed heroically during this period repelling attacks and quashing any subsequent rebellions. 
With only a point in it and as the referee allowed play to continue, a draw seemed a strong possibility. However after Paul Dillon booted wide the referee sounded the whistle that all Garrycastle wanted to hear. There was a huge outpouring of jubilation as supporters bounded onto the pitch. The long-threatening rain finally descended but nothing could dampen the spirits of the Garrycastle team, mentors and supporters as David O'Shaughnessy held aloft the Flanagan Cup.

Scorers - Garrycastle: Des Dolan 0-5 (2f), Alan Daly 1-0, Donal Ryan and Gary Dolan 0-2 each. Tyrrellspass: Martin Flanagan 0-4 (If, 1 '45), Mark Staunton 0-4 (4f), John Corcoran 0-2 (If), Michael Carley 0-1.

Teams - Carrycastle: Cathal Mullin; John O'Shaughnessy, Karl Henson, Doran Harte, Seanie O'Donoghue, Justin McAteer, Enda Mulvihill, James Duignan, David O’Shaughnessy (capt.), Donal Ryan, Ciaran Ryan, Gary Dolan, Noel Galvin, Alan Daly, Des Dolan. Subs: Paul Dillon for N. Calvin, Paddy Redmond for G. Dolan, Rowan Mulvihill for D. Ryan. Booked: Des Dolan and John O'Shaughnessy.

Tyrrellspass: John Hyland; John O'Brian, David Murphy (capt.), Barry Murphy; Alan Rigney, Shane Arthur, Dan Gavin; Adrian Corcoran, Michael Carley, Kevin Connell, Ray Sheeran, Denis Glennon; John Corcoran, Martin Flanagan. Mark Staunton. Subs: Colm Murphy for R. Sheeran, Tommy Newman for A Rigney, Ronan Dunbar for M. Carley.

Referee: Michael Gordon (Shandonagh).

Attendance; 5,100.

(This report was published in the Westmeath Independent on Friday, 5th October, 2001, and was reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Independent.)



Garrycastle Triumph to Capture First Ever Senior B Title (2002)


By Kieran Galvin
GARRYCASTLE....................................................... 2 - 14
ST. MARY'S, ROCHFORTBRIDGE…….................. 0 - 12

Garrycastle won their first ever Senior B Championship title when they overcame St. Mary's, Rochfortbridge in an open and entertaining contest at Cusack Park last Sunday.
While this game didn't have the intensity of the SFC semi-final that followed it, arguably it provided more entertainment, as spectators were treated to some free flowing football and well taken scores. Garrycastle had to endure two slightly worrying spells, but rose to the challenge of both and were able to grab scores at vital times on their way to victory. St. Mary's started the game well, forging 0-3 to 0-1 ahead, but Garrycastle turned things around and, boosted by an opportunist Rory McGowan goal, led at the break 1-9 to 0-5. The Rochfortbridge side had a purple patch in the opening nine minutes of the second half, scoring four points on the trot. The game now looked in the balance but a clinically finished goal from Carrycastle half-forward, captain Donal Ryan, in the 41st minute proved the turning point in this final. As team captain, it was Ryan who accepted the Senior B Shield from Westmeath Football Board Vice-Chairman, Des Maguire.

Fielding three of the side which defeated St. Loman's in the SFC semi-final the previous Sunday, Carrycastle produced the more cohesive football and were deserving winners. The St. Mary's line-up included Morgan Goggins, a brother of Dublin captain Coman, and Jacko Healy, a brother of Westmeath star, Damien. Despite a point in the opening minute by Padraig Cosgrove, it took a young Garrycastle team some time to find their feet. The eventual winners were guilty of some wastefulness in the early stages, as they failed to turn possession into scores. A point by Ian Cunningham, a wonderful score by Austin Bradley, followed by a free from the latter, left St. Mary's 0-3 to 0-1 ahead. A converted Rowan Mulvihill free reduced arrears in the 14th minute, before Declan Gavin responded. Inspired by Stephen O'Reilly's high fielding, the workrate and point scoring of Donal Ryan and the finishing of Padraig Cosgrove, Garrycastle gradually got on top. Points by Ryan and Cosgrove levelled matters by the 19th minute, as Garrycastle notched six points in succession.
Austin Bradley blasted over to keep St. Mary's in touch, but the game began to slip away from the 'Bridge, as Garrycastle hit back with two points and then the body blow of an injury-time goal. When a Rowan Mulvihill free dropped short, the St. Mary's 'keeper failed to hold onto it and Rory McGowan pounced and buried the ball into the net from close range. It was doubly disappoint¬ing for St. Mary's to concede a goal in such a fashion and at such an inopportune time as just before the interval. Upon the restart, St. Mary's set about their task with renewed vigour. After hitting three points inside 7 minutes, including two sweet scores by Barry Pierce, St. Mary's created a goal chance but Ian Cunningham blasted over with the goal at his mercy. As this point, the game seemed there for the taking but then Donal Ryan intervened, latching onto a loose ball and driving a crisp right foot shot low into the net, giving Eamon O'Brien in the St. Mary's goal no chance. This left 'Castle with what seemed to be a safe cushion and ultimately it was. A spirited St. Mary's weren't in any mood to thrown in the towel, but Garrycastle held their opponents at bay, never allowing them to get any closer than 5 points. Realising that his side needed goals, Austin Bradley let fly in the 51st minute, but saw his shot flash across goal but, unfortunately for him, past the far post.
Garrycastle substitute, Noel Galvin, relishing some of the physical exchanges, made a notable contribution when he was introduced, and this helped his side hold sway around the middle of the field. Another two points from Padraig Cosgrove put Garrycastle seven points clear and there was even time for Garrycastle substitute Anthony Duignan, a brother of senior player James, to get his name on the scoresheet with the last score of the game in injury time.

For Garrycastle, Enda Nugent was very solid at centre-back, while Tom McHugh and Padraig Rattigan helped erect a defensive shied that St. Mary's found difficult to penetrate. Midfielder Doran Harte, more noted as a defender, got forward to support his forward colleagues and chipped in with two points, while Stephen O'Reilly again demonstrated his undoubted fielding ability. Padraig Cosgrove produced a tremendous performance up front, scoring five points from play, while Donal Ryan helped himself to 1-3 in a classy display. Christopher Nally did a great deal of donkey work around the pitch and played a part in a number of scores. A battling St. Mary's team were best served by Laurence Arthur, Austin Bradley, who finished with an impressive total of six points, half-forward Barry Pierce, Ian Cunningham and Declan Gavin, who put in a sterling performance at midfield.

Scorers - Garrycastle: Padraig Cosgrove 0-7 (2f), Donal Ryan 1-3, Rory McGowan 1-0, Doran Harte 0-2, Rowan Mulvihill 0-1 (lf),Anthony Duignan 0-1.
St. Mary's: Austin Bradley 0-6 (2f), Ian Cunningham and Barry Pierce 0-2 each, Declan Gavin and David Cleary 0-1 each.

GARRYCASTLE: Fergal Nee, Tom McHugh, Michael Mulvihill, Padraig Rattigan, John Murphy, Enda Nugent, Niall Fagan, Doran Harte, Stephen O'Reilly, Christopher Nally, Rowan Mulvihill, Donal Ryan (Capt.), Rory McGowan, Colman Gantley, Padraig Cosgrove. Subs: Anthony Duignan for J. Murphy (38), Noel Galvin for N. Fagan (50). Declan' Dockery for R. Mulvihill (59).

ST. MARY'S: Eamon O'Brien, Gerry Daly, Colin Pierce, Laurence Arthur, Kenneth Berry, Stuart Gavin, Jacko Healy, Declan Gavin, Eamon Gallagher, Morgan Goggins, David Cleary, Barry Pierce, Ian Cunningham, Austin Bradley, Aidan Nolan. Subs: Brian Fallen for K. Berry (20), Thomas Giles for A. Nolan (H-T).

Referee: Alan McCormack (Kilbeggan Shamrocks).

(This report was published by the Westmeath Independent, on Friday, 13th September. 2002 and was reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Independent)



Lagan Cement Westmeath SFC Final Masterful Garrycastle Outclass Castledaly (2002) 


By Kieran Galvin
Garrycastle .............................4-11
Castledaly .................................0-9

A point was emphatically made by Garrycastle last Sunday at Cusack as they retained their SFC crown, defeating first-time finalists and south Westmeath rivals Castledaly in comprehensive fashion.
This 14-point victory was the biggest winning margin in a county final since 1966, when Shamrocks beat Maryland by 18 points. The win means Garrycastle are the first team to retain the Westmeath SFC title since Mullingar Shamrocks won four in a row from 1992 to '95 and in the process proved themselves as arguably the best club side in the county since that Shamrocks outfit. The winners held an edge in the first half but, due to a few missed chances, only led at the break by 0-6 to 0-3. A converted penalty early in the second half set Garrycastle well on their way and Castledaly could muster little by way of response. The green and red followed up with two more goals inside the opening 9 minutes of the second half and, from there, there was simply no way back for Castledaly. Garrycastle produced a really cohesive team display, but three individuals really shone like pearls: Seanie O'Donoghue, David O'Shaughnessy and Donal Ryan. Any one of the three players would have been a worthy man-of-the- match, if such an award was on offer. O'Shaughnessy set the tone for Garrycastle and gave an exhibition of high fielding, which was primarily responsible for ensuring that Garrycastle dominated the midfield exchanges, an area in which Castledaly have been strong all season. The county midfield player won the throw-ins at the beginning of both halves, which were just two of a number of inspirational catches he made. Seanie O'Donoghue acted as a powerful sentry for the entire defence. The number of blocks he effected was remarkable and his distribution of the ball was really first class. The pacy Donal Ryan looked like he could run all day and really stamped his mark on proceedings in the second half when he scored 1-3 of his total of 1-4, all of which came from play. Garrycastle's triumph was achieved despite Ciaran Ryan going off injured, with a dislocated collar bone. Ryan had been playing well, but Stephen O'Reilly proved a more than capable substitute and Garrycastle's midfield domination was rarely threatened. Though the rain mercifully stayed away, the game was disappointing from a neutrals perspective as the winners were predictable from an early stage in the second half. Anyone in any doubt the substance of the Garrycastle team got their answer on Sunday. Garrycastle have now won the senior championship and league division 1 double for the second year in succession, and clearly such a feat is not achieved without a heavy dose of quality. Just last year, Garrycastle reached their first ever senior county final and won the title at their first attempt. To come back this year and win it again is a commendable achievement, at a time when putting titles back-to-back frequently proves an elusive goal. It is easy to say it in hindsight, it can safely be said that Garrycastle were winning games while playing well within themselves earlier in the Championship.

PORTLAOISE NEXT ON MENU

After Sunday's Laoise SFC final, Garrycastle now meet Portlaoise in the first round of the Leinster Club Championship. On the evidence of this display they can approach that game with a measure of confidence, even allowing for the step up in opposition that awaits them. In terms of that game, however, there was one blemish on an otherwise fabulous day with the injury to Ciaran Ryan, which led him to leaving the fray. Substitute Stephen O'Reilly did very well when introduced and 'Castle didn't noticeably miss Ryan on Sunday, but against Portlaoise his loss will be keenly felt. Little went right for Castledaly on the day and they were left reflecting on a game in which they to do themselves justice. The penalty decision was possibly harsh and came at a particularly inopportune time. They had already trailed at half-time by three points and really needed the first score of the second half. Perhaps due to a lack of experience of playing in a senior county final, a number of Castledaly players simply failed to get to grips with the pace of the game, but in truth any club side in the county would have struggled to live with Garrycastle on Sunday.

Coming into the game Garrycastle had scored nine goals in this year's Championship, compared to Castledaly's three and that greater ability to create and take goal scoring chances was crucial on Sunday. As the Championship progressed, the Castledaly rearguard tightened up considerably and seemed less likely to concede goals, but on Sunday, they were asked questions that did not appear in the Championship curriculum hitherto. For Castledaly, Ciaran Henson, Ken Larkin, and in the first half, Derek Heavin (before he was switched to the full-back line) were prominent in a beleaguered defence. The midfield duo of Russell Casey and Gordon Duffy, who both have had an excellent year, were outplayed by their counterparts, but never stopped battling. JP Casey, though well shackled, did lack support when he won possession. Niall Kelly and Damien Doyle, both of whom scored two points, looked capable of doing damage, had they received a better supply of ball. Doyle was surprisingly replaced shortly after he grabbed his two points. Castledaly's half forward line really struggled to make any impact and none of the players who started in that line managed to get their names on the scoreboard. The delivery of ball into the Garrycastle attack contrasted markedly with that of Castledaly. However, the movement off the ball by the Garrycastle attack was also more inventive and sharper than that of their opposite numbers.

While the clubs are local rivals, the game was played without rancour and in a very sporting fashion that is a credit to both teams, as evidenced by the fact that a yellow card wasn't flashed all day. In the main, Referee Michael McAdden handled the game capably and sensibly. When a team scores four goals and wins by such a big margin, a lot of acclaim can fell on the shoulders of the forwards, but it would be unfair not to recognise the part played by the Garrycastle defence in this victory, JP Casey was held scoreless from play, with Karl Henson doing an excellent marking job as well as shoring up the defence. He was ably assisted in the full-back line by Padraig Rattigan, who was so unlucky to miss last year's final through injury, and John O’Shaughnessy. As a unit they proved water tight.

Mention has already been made of the magnificent Seanie O'Donoghue and Doran Harte, after one shakey moment, and the solid Enda Mulvihill, hardly put a foot wrong. Justin McAteer, perhaps affected by the injury which had made his participation so doubtful, found it difficult to get into the game in the first half, but improved after the restart and it was his pass that led to the penalty. He also became more involved in a variety of moves as the second period wore on. James Duignan also failed to score from play, but he proved a useful link man between midfield and attack before fading somewhat. Alan Daly may have only scored once from play, but his searing pace left its mark and the Castledaly defence was surely glad to see the back of him when he was replaced in the second half, seemingly due to a slight knock. Gary Dolan came into the game with five Championship goals to his credit and increased that to a very impressive seven, meaning he has averaged a goal per game. He finished the penalty in truly clinical fashion and the other goal revealed a real poacher's instinct. In the opening 20 minutes, Dessie Dolan caused a host of problems for Castledaly. When Castledaly managed to minimise his impact somewhat thereafter, other Garrycastle players were there to take up the baton.

SWITCHES FROM THE OFF

There were wide spread switches in the Castledaly defence even before the throw-in. Enda Kelly took up the left corner-back slot from left-half back, while Brendan Fitzgerald went to left half-back. Ciaran Henson was given the task of shackling Dessie Dolan but as soon as Dessie left him trailing in his wake from the first ball that went in, he was dispatched onto the other Dolan. James Galvin was then moved onto Dessie, with Henson facing Gary. Whilst it was understandable that the Castedaly mentors would try to come up with some sort of strategy to stymie Garrycastle's attacking threat, the wholesale switches seemed to unsettle the Castledaly defence far more than the opposing forward line.

Both Enda Kelly and Brendan Fitzgerald, though neither could be faulted in terms of effort, seemed like fish out of water in their unfamiliar positions. Inside 20 seconds, Garrycastle were off the mark. O'Shaughnessy fielded the throw-in, the ball was transferred to Dessie Dolan, who took off like a high speed train before passing to Alan Daly, who arrowed over a point with his left foot. Simple football, but very effective. Both teams and, in particular Castledaly, seemed a bit nervous in the opening minutes and JP Casey shot wide from a decent scoring position in the 4th minute. Castledaly grabbed their first score, when Russell Casey took advantage of some hesitancy from Doran Harte to win the ball back and when he passed to Niall Kelly, the latter popped over a sweet point off his left loot. However, the midfield battle was being won by Garrycastle and another O'Shaughnessy fetch led to Dessie Dolan edging his team ahead in the 11th minute.
Ciaran Ryan then won a kick out and burst forward and held off the challenge of Russell Casey to point. Next up was probably the point of the match from Dessie Dolan, who turned and twisted in the right corner before landing a left foot kick from an acute angle. A converted free from the same player increased the margin, but a JP Casey free in the 18th minute left three in it. Castledaly did have a couple of let-offs in that first period. Goalkeeper Willie Glynn did well to parry an Alan Daly effort at goal and a follow-up attempt by Gary Dolan, while Donal Ryan blazed over the bar when a goal appeared a live possibility. Garrycastle also hit 6 wides in that opening half. Still, Castledaly had reason to be happy at half-time. They hadn't played well but they only trailed by three points and hadn't conceded a goal. One felt that Castledaly needed a good start in the second half, if they were to reverse the tide of the game. Instead they were dealt a severe body blow from which they never recovered.

In the first minute of the second half, a Justin McAteer ball across the goal found Gary Dolan in a dangerous position. When Dolan let fly a shot, Ciaran Henson was adjudged to have been guilty of a foot block. Without the benefit of a second viewing on video, it is difficult to be sure, but it was possibly a harsh call. If a ball is blocked with the foot, technically it is a penalty, but Henson's certainly wasn't dangerous and he was a few feet away from Dolan when he effected the block. That is not to, in any way, take away from Garrycastle's victory. Quite simply, they were operating at a different level than Castledaly on the day and would surely have won the game with or without the penalty. The reorganising in the Castledaly defence continued, with Ken Larkin moving out to right halfback, but the player he then faced, Donal Ryan, became rampant. In the 37th minute, a sumptuous pass by Gary Dolan found the raiding Ryan, who outpaced the Castledaly defence and crashed a rocket of a shot to the roof of the net. Just 2 minutes later, a Doran Harte ball across the goal evaded the covering Castledaly players and Gary Dolan drilled a left foot shot to the net. Another goal was almost in the bag for Garrycastle when Castledaly net minder Glynn lost control of the ball, but Gary Dolan blasted wide, when Alan Daly was lurking for a pass. While Castledaly were keeping hopes of a revival just intact, mainly through JP Casey frees, Donal Ryan added on three points.

FOUR SECOND HALF SUBSTITUTES FOR CASTLEDALY

Castledaly introduced four second half substitutes in MJ McLoughlin, Joe Casey (who replaced the injured Tommy Daly), Scan Connell and Alan Duffy, as they tried everything to bring about a renaissance. MJ McLoughlin did well when introduced and helped himself to a point, but by this stage it was an exercise in damage limitation more than anything else. Garrycastle were also introducing subs, but for very different reasons -with Noel Galvin, Padraig Cosgrove, Enda Nugent and Tom McHugh - all entering the fray. In injury time Cosgrove grabbed a goal when he bundled the ball over the line after Willie Glynn blocked Gary Dolan's shot. A stiffer challenge now awaits Garrycastle in the Leinster Championship. Last year, they know they did not really perform against Wexford club, St Anne's. Still basking in the glory of their first ever Senior Championship success, perhaps they could be forgiven for that. This time round, Garrycastle are a more experienced bunch and should be in a better position to make an impact, even though the same hunger and drive we witnessed last Sunday will be needed all over again. 

Scorers - Garrycastle: Donal Ryan 1-4, Gary Dolan 2-0 (1 pen), Dessie Dolan 0-4 (2f), Padraig Cosgrove 1-0, Alan Daly 0-2 (1f), Ciaran Ryan 0-1.

Castledaly: JP Casey 0-4 (4f), Niall Kelly and Damien Doyle 0-2 each, M J McLoughlin 0-1.

GARRYCASTLE: Cathal Mullin; Padraig Rattigan, Karl Henson (capt.), John O'Shaughnessy, Doran Harte, Seanie O'Donoghue; Enda Mulvihill, David O'Shaughnessy, Ciaran Ryan, Justin McAteer, James Duignan, Donal Ryan, Alan Daly, Gary Dolan, Dessie Dolan. Subs: Stephen O'Reilly for C. Ryan (inj. 24), Noel Galvin for J. Duignan (42), Padraig Cosgrove for A. Daly (54), Enda Nugent for D. Harte (56), Tom McHugh for J. McAteer (58).

CASTLEDALY: Willie Glynn; Brendan Fitzgerald, James Galvin, Ciaran Henson, Derek Heavin, Ken Larkin, Enda Kelly, Russell Casey, Gordon Duffy; Alan Fitzgerald, Niall Duffy, Tommy Daly; Damien Doyle, JP Casey, Niall Kelly. Subs: MJ McLoughlin for B. Fitzgerald (33), Joe Casey for T. Daly (inj,35), Sean Connell for D. Doyle (54), Alan Duffy for N. Kelly (55).

Referee: Michael McAdden (St. Loman's, Mullingar)
Attendance: 5,895.

(This report was published by the Westmeath Independent, on Friday, 4th October, 2002 and was reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Independent)