Monday, May 09, 2016

Roscommon Gaels………………………………………0-10

Clann na nGael…………………………………………….0-8

Hodson Bay Hotel Group Senior Football Championship (Section A)

Ian Cooney at Lisnamult

They weren’t quite singing in the rain but Roscommon Gaels left Lisnamult fairly satisfied on Saturday evening last. Liam McNeill’s side had just taken the county champions’ scalp but, with injured players like Cian Connolly and Mark Healy to return, there was no one denying that room for improvement was plentiful.

The Gaels controlled the opening 30 minutes but completely lost their way for the bulk of the second period. Yet they remained standing thanks to a combination of Clann’s jitters in front of goal and Kieran Kilcline’s accuracy.

The midfielder hit four points from play over the hour, which was quite an achievement in the deplorable weather conditions. But Lisnamult’s pristine surface held up well to the unpredictability of the Irish summer as the home side settled for a hard-fought victory.

It was hard to know what to make of Clann. They were asleep for the opening quarter, allowing the Gaels build up a five-point advantage inside 13 minutes. They improved marginally in the second quarter, paring back the deficit to four points at the break.

But manager Paul Curran was far from happy, reshuffling the deck and introducing Aaron O’Reilly, Matt Scally and Ruaidhri McManus at half time. It had the desired effect as Clann set about reducing the arrears to a point by the 44th minute. But they missed five chances in succession and kicked another one into Roscommon Gaels goalkeeper James Featherstone’s hands. Inevitably they were made to pay for their sins when a rare Gaels attack procured the insurance point for Man of the Match Kilcline in the 59th minute.

The Gaels were impressive early on but they were aided by Clann’s lack of intensity. Too many players allowed the opposition too much freedom as the Gaels’ patience was rewarded with a sequence of eyecatching scores. Only Graham Pettit showed any interest in stemming the Gaels tide as Paul Gleeson, revelling in his role as a sweeper, James McDermott, Kilcline, Brian Kelly, Scott Oates and Johnnie Conteh dictated the tempo.

Kilcline opened the scoring in the third minute and Kelly floated over a superb effort with the outside of his right boot a minute later. Clann simply couldn’t get their hands on possession, and the pressure told when an uncharacteristic error from Fergal Lennon allowed Austin Duignan open up a three-point lead.

The Gaels’ engine room was purring, and Kilcline added another point to his tally in the sixth minute as Clann players looked around for answers. But the one-way traffic continued as Scott Oates took a pass from Conteh and bisected the posts in the 13th minute.

Five points behind, Clann finally awoke from their slumber when Donie Shine pointed a free. Then Pettit’s strong shoulder robbed Gleeson of possession, allowing Jamie Fahy to win a free that Shine converted.

The margin was down to just two points when Shine landed a “beauty” from the right wing. But the Gaels regained their composure and some patient approach work allowed Kilcline find the target in the 24th minute. Kelly tagged on his second point of the evening barely a minute later.

Shine picked out Fergal Lennon for a much-needed Clann score after Conteh had hit the post at the other end. But there was still time for Enda Lannon to convert a free just before the break to give the home side a 0-8 to 0-4 advantage.

Clann were a different animal on the resumption, helped by the introduction of O’Reilly and Scally. Graham Pettit kick-started the revival with a booming effort from 60 metres. Then the midfielder was fouled, and Shine found the range from the resultant 45-metre free.

A foul on Brian Kelly allowed Enda Lannon tap over a Gaels free but the reprieve was short-lived. Two Shine frees in quick succession left Clann only a point behind with 16 minutes remaining. But, crucially, they never restored parity as Shine, Fahy, Jonathan Dunning and Lennon missed chances.

Kevin O’Gara was dismissed with five minutes remaining but it seemed to galvanise the Gaels. A brilliant counter-attack involving John McManus and David O’Gara allowed Kilcline give his side some breathing space.

Cathal Shine’s late chance was saved on the line by Brian Kelly as the Gaels held out in a frantic finish.

ROSCOMMON GAELS: J. Featherstone; K. Kilcline, J. McManus, L. McNeela; K. O’Gara, D. O’Gara, R. Gleeson; J. McDermott, K. Kilcline (0-4); A. Duignan (0-1), E. Lannon (0-2, both frees), B. Kelly (0-2); S. Oates (0-1), J. Conteh, P. Gleeson. Subs used: M. Nally for Duignan (45 mins), R. Hughes for Conteh (48 mins).

CLANN NA NGAEL: C. Hannon; J. Connaughton, S. Flynn, R. Gavin; F. Lennon (0-1), D. Flynn, S. McManus; G. Pettit (0-1), D. Pettit; E. Kenny, D. Shine (0-6, five frees), C. McManus; J. Dunning, C. Callinan, J. Fahy. Subs used: C. Shine for D. Pettit (13 mins), M. Scally for Callinan (half-time), R. McManus for C. McManus (half-time), A. O’Reilly for S. McManus (half-time), D. Connaughton for J. Connaughton (blood sub, 51 mins), C. Callinan for Lennon (black card, 60 mins).

Wides: Roscommon Gaels – 7; Clann na nGael – 11.

Yellow Cards: Roscommon Gaels – R. Gleeson (17 mins), D. O’Gara (50 mins); Clann na nGael – none.

Black Cards: Roscommon Gaels – none; Clann na nGael – Lennon (60 mins).

Red Cards: Roscommon Gaels – K. O’Gara (55 mins); Clann na nGael – none.

Referee: G. Carmody.

Player of the Match: Kieran Kilcline (Roscommon Gaels). Apart from the midfielder’s four points from play, Kilcline’s direct running was a constant source of worry for Clann. Indeed it was fitting that he should be on the end of a fine move to seal the home side’s victory in the 59th minute.

Paul Gleeson, James McDermott (first half), Brian Kelly and Paul Gleeson also made notable contributions.

Graham Pettit was Clann’s best player by some distance. Jack Connaughton, Donie Shine, Stephen Flynn (second half) and substitute Matt Scally also performed well for the defending champions.

Clann na nGael captain David Flynn sprints past Kevin O'Gara in the rain at Lisnamult on Saturday evening last. Pic: Gerard O'Loughlin

Clann na nGael captain David Flynn sprints past Kevin O’Gara in the rain at Lisnamult on Saturday evening last. Pic: Gerard O’Loughlin

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