Senior Championship, Semi-Final

posted 7 Oct 2018, 10:20 by Garrycastle GAA   [ updated 7 Oct 2018, 15:42 ]

Garrycastle exited this years senior championship at the semi-final stage at the hands of St. Lomans in TEG Cusack Park on Sunday afternoon. The old adage of goals winning games was certainly true here, as two second-half goals from St. Lomans were effectively the difference between the teams. 

On a bright day, but with a very strong wind blowing down the pitch from the Dunnes Stores end, Garrycastle, playing with the wind in the first half, found themselves a point down within the first minute. However, they responded immediately when a quick free was pointed by Dessie Dolan. Garrycastle were having the better of the play in the early stages, but a string of three wides in a row, the first from Gary McCallon after a patient build-up, then from James Dolan after great work from Jonathan Mcguire and Dessie, and finally Dessie from a close-in free, gave some indication of the difficult conditions. A pointed from Dessie following a foul on Doron Harte eased Garrycastle in front, before the best opportunity for a goal in the first half went untaken, as an overhit pass from James Dolan found Alex Gardiner in on goal,  but his low shot fizzed across the face of the goal and wide. 

Conor Cosgrove added two further points, the second from a free, to stretch Garrycastle's lead by the middle of the first half. It took all of twenty minutes for St. Lomans to get their second score, but this was immediately cancelled out with a free from Dessie. The Garrycastle goal then had a narrow escape, with Anthony Larkin making a last ditch clearance.  A point from play by James Sheerin extended the lead to four points with half-time approaching, but then in the space of three minutes no fewer than three Garrycastle players were yellow-carded, and St. Lomans' John Heslin kicked two points, (one from a free moved closer after some dissent was shown to the referee), to leave Garrycastle ahead by two points at the break, on a scoreline of Garrycastle 0-6, St. Lomans 0-4.

The belief in the stand was that a two-point lead was not enough having played with the wind, and this was brought starkly into focus when St. Lomans goaled with their first attack of the second half. Smart use of the wind, saw a high ball being sent into the Garrycastle square, and a failure to clear the danger, allowed a  St. Lomans corner forward to turn and shoot, and put his side into the lead. To their credit, Garrycastle rallied immediately and levelled the game once again with a pointed free from Conor Cosgrove. However, St. Lomans were making the best of the conditions in the first part of the second half, and took the lead again with two points from the prolific John Heslin, (one from a free). Garrycastle were struggling, with passes going astray and giving up possession cheaply, but levelled the game once more with a superb pointed 45-meter kick from Alex Gardiner, and a free from Conor Cosgrove.

Immediately, though, came the turning point of the match. Having put so much effort into drawing level, Garrycastle were caught on the counter attack, when a hopeful St. Lomans ball was allowed over the half-back line to find a St. Lomans corner forward in behind, and he gave Shane Moran in the Garrycastle goal absolutely no chance with a powerful shot to the back of the net. St. Lomans added another point from a free to open up a four-point gap by the middle of the second half. The short kick-out strategy employed by Garrycastle was also not working as planned, as St. Lomans pushed high up the field, making life very difficult for Garrycastle to break out of their own half. 

A pointed free from Conor Cosgrove narrowed the gap again, but then a trio of points for the St. Lomans team, the last from a 45-meter free, extended their lead to six points with eight minutes of normal time remaining. That was to be their last score however, and Garrycastle pushed hard to reduce the lead. Alex Gardiner was fouled just on the edge of the square, and Dessie tapped over the resultant free. Then, not long after being introduced, a line ball decision against Ger Heneghan, when the ball did not seem to have gone out, resulted in a straight red card for the same player, after the linesman brought the referee's attention to something he had said.  

This seemed to spur the Garrycastle team onwards, and another pointed free from Dessie with five minutes of normal time remaining narrowed the gap between the teams to four points. As time played out Garrycastle had a couple of wides which could have closed the gap further, but also were thankful to goalkeeper Shane Moran for a great stop right on the end of normal time. Final attempts to push for scores caused some consternation for St. Lomans when faced with high balls coming in, but they weathered the storm, and so it was St. Lomans who advanced to the final in two week's time. 

Overall, the Garrycastle team will be disappointed with this result. Even with Dessie orchestrating the Garrycastle attacking efforts, with the wind being such a major factor, a wider cushion was needed at the half-time break for safety. A total of only two points from open play also speaks of the difficulties Garrycastle had with getting scores from open play.

Shane Moran, Anthony Larkin, Mark McCallon, Gary McCallon, James Dolan, Matthew Guiheen, Mark Curley,  Doron Harte, James Sheerin (0-1), Tom O'Halloran, Conor Cosgrove (0-5, 4f), Eoin Monaghan, Jonathan Mcguire,
Alex Gardiner (0-1, 1 '45), Dessie Dolan (0-5, 5f).
John Gaffey for Anthony Larkin (43 mins), Michael Monaghan for Mark Curley (45 mins), Ger Heneghan for Jonathan McGuire (47 mins), Jason Nugent for Dessie Dolan (55 mins).