Monday, February 25, 2013

Scoil Mhuire Strokestown……..1-13 Gortnor Abbey Crossmolina……0-8

Connacht Colleges’ Senior Championship C Final

Michael O’Brien at Gilmartin Park, Kiltimagh

In perfect conditions for football, Scoil Mhuire Strokestown delivered an excellent performance to capture the Connacht Colleges C title at Kiltimagh on Saturday. Led by their key figures and driven by a fierce workrate throughout, Scoil Mhuire simply held too many aces for what was a decent Gortnor Abbey side.

On this evidence, Scoil Mhuire don’t belong in the C championship. They are simply a cut above the rest in the province. Like they did in the semi-final against Colaiste Iognaid, Scoil Mhuire hit the ground running. Gortnor Abbey will rue a couple of early misses, including a goal chance in the opening minute, but the eventual winners were better balanced and were that bit superior in terms of skill and physical strength. Tom Corcoran and Sean Mullooly dominated midfield and David Neary mopped up everything at centre-back. Tadgh O’Rourke enjoyed a fine outing when moving out from full-forward while Diarmuid McGann and David Carlton were impressive throughout, with Carlton delivering a superb second-half display.

The Mayo side were simply too dependent on James Maughan, a fine all-around player (nephew of former Roscommon manager John), Conor Loftus and Fionan Duffy. They had a few weak links, which Scoil Mhuire exposed, but both teams were clearly well drilled. After six minutes, Scoil Mhuire had raced into a 1-2 to 0-0 lead. David Carlton cut through the cover after collecting a Mullooly pass and placed his shot brilliantly to the net. Tadgh O’Rourke had pointed twice in the opening minutes but Gortnor Abbey’s full-back James Maughan, who later moved to the forward line, soon took command of his area.

By the 20thminute the score was 1-4 to 0-2. Gortnor’s efforts weren’t being reflected on the scoreboard and Scoil Mhuire continued to pile on the pressure with Mullooly, Michael Fallon and Darragh O’Rourke pointing to open up a 1-8 to 0-3 at the break. When Diarmuid McGann extended the lead to nine points six minutes into the second half, it looked like Gortnor Abbey were facing an impossible task. But they showed great resolve. With Duffy proving very good from frees and Conor Loftus proving a capable ball carrier, they managed to stay in the game. They were lacking a couple of scoring forwards, however, and couldn’t match Scoil Mhuire’s great combination play.

This was best illustrated in the 51stminute when Corcoran fed O’Rourke who laid the ball off to Carlton. He played a one-two with McGann before firing over a terrific point. Fionan Duffy added three frees for the Mayo side in the final few minutes but despite a gallant effort, they were never going to deny a fine Scoil Mhuire side a Connacht title. Scoil Mhuire’s slick passing and greater overall ability shone through on a day when one sensed there could be a lot of great days ahead for a number of these players.


SCOIL MHUIRE, STROKESTOWN: C. McDonagh; K. Beirne, C. Gibbons (captain), C. Higgins; E. Kelly, D. Neary, D. O’Rourke (0-1); T. Corcoran (0-2, both frees), S. Mullooly (0-1); M. Fallon (0-1), D. Carlton (1-3), E. O’Beirne; D. Hagan, T. O’Rourke (0-2), D. McGann (0-3, one free). Subs: M. Conroy for D. Hagan (48 mins), M. Hagan for O’Beirne (51 mins).


GORTNOR ABBEY, CROSSMOLINA: P. Loftus; S. O’Boyle, J. Maughan, P. Gilroy; D. McCormack, A. Cronin, M. Queenan; H. Cafferty, M. McAndrew; J. Carr, J. O’Brien, C. Loftus (0-1); N. Gallagher, R. Callaghan, F. Duffy (0-7, six frees). Subs: M. Keane for Callaghan (36 mins), R. Callaghan for Keane (48 mins).


Wides: Scoil Mhuire – 10; Gortnor Abbey – 5.


Yellow Cards: Scoil Mhuire – S. Mullooly, D. O’Rourke;


Gortnor Abbey – M. Queenan


Referee: J. Gilmartin (Sligo)


Player of the Match: Seán Mullooly (Scoil Mhuire). David Neary, Tom Corcoran, David Carlton, Tadgh O’Rourke and Diarmuid McGann delivered fine performances but Sean Mullooly shades the verdict. The midfielder was excellent throughout and was in particularly devastating form in the first half. He won breaks, carried possession and made strong runs through the heart of the Gortnor Abbey defence from start to finish. James Maughan, Patrick Gilroy, Conor Loftus and Fionan Duffy were best for Gortnor Abbey.

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