Clann na nGael…………..2-14
Hodson Bay Hotel Group Senior Football Championship (Section A)
Michael O’Brien at Enfield
The final whistle sounded in Enfield on Saturday evening to huge cheers from Boyle’s following, and an eerie silence among the Clann na nGael faithful. The county champions were sent crashing out of this year’s championship by a superb Boyle team that delivered the ultimate performance.
The result puts the North Roscommon side into the quarter-finals where they will face St. Faithleach’s. Remarkably, Clann na nGael’s season is over before the knockout stages.
The Johnstown-based side can have no complaints. They were beaten by the better team. They were outfought by a Boyle team who were much sharper. Clann could well have garnered something from the game late on, but Boyle’s five-point winning margin didn’t flattered them. It’s incredible to think that Boyle put 4-13 (4-10 from play) past the county champions and missed two decent goal chances. It’s also worth noting that they hadn’t Donie Smith to call on.
Donie Shine and Cathal Shine only played in spurts for Clann at midfield. The former was excellent from frees and the latter did score a couple of good points. However, in general play, Roch Hanmore and Kieran Cox were excellent in this department. Darren O’Connor came from the next parish on a few occasions to win possession. With Seán Purcell dictating the play from centre-back, and Enda Smith, Cian McKeon and company always threatening up front, Boyle were on the front foot from the opening whistle.
By the 22nd minute, the winners led by 1-7 to 0-4. The goal came from a well-executed shot from Purcell after Roch Hanmore originally won possession. Boyle were ravenous at this stage and deserved their lead.
Clann kept in touch, thanks chiefly to Donie Shine’s free-taking. But while Cathal Shine did kick two crucial points in the final few minutes of the half, Boyle hit back through two efforts from livewire Cian McKeon, with the great engines of O’Connor and Purcell involved in the lead-up to those scores.
Clann made changes and reshuffled the deck at half time. Two Shine frees left them 1-9 to 0-9 behind after three minutes of the second half. But Boyle hit back through an Enda Smith goal. The county player played a one-two with Dylan East before blasting to the net. Just over a minute later, however, Clann hit back, with Ultan Harney managing to scramble the ball over the line.
As the game entered the final 20 minutes, the tension continued to rise. The hits were hard and regular, and there was a great intensity to the game. Boyle continued to show tremendous character. Smith fisted over a point in the 42nd minute just when it looked like Clann were about to reel them in.
There was plenty of drama in the final quarter. By now the Boyle sideline and supporters had become incensed with a few decisions they felt were awarded against them. But while one could sense there was an element of frustration creeping in, they managed to refocus quickly. Either way, Clann were unable to take advantage. They had resorted to route one football, becoming very predictable.
Boyle moved four clear in the 48th minute. David Callaghan sent the ball across the line after Smith and O’Connor had done the spadework. Moments later, Harney fisted wide at the other. When McKeon (free) and Cathal Shine (a fisted effort) exchanged points, Boyle still held a four-point lead with five minutes to play.
The tension continued to rise. It rose even further in the first minute of injury time when a Donie Shine free off his left foot hung in the air before Harney got a fist to it to make it 2-14 to 3-12.
But Boyle still weren’t rattled. Two minutes later, they broke forward yet again. Smith’s pace proved decisive. He played a one-two with McKeon before lashing his side’s fourth goal to the net. The same played tagged on the game’s final score a minute later.
Boyle had pulled off one of the biggest shocks in the championship for many years. It was a superb win for Michael Jordan, his management team and his players.
They’ll fear nobody now, as long as they can manage to come down off ‘cloud nine’.
BOYLE: T. Lowe; G. Gilmartin, M. Hanmore (0-1), C. Beirne; D. East, S. Purcell (1-0), T. McKenna (0-1); K. Cox, R. Hanmore; E. Smith (2-3), K. Cox, D. O’Connor (0-1); D. Callaghan (1-0), J. Suffin (0-1), C. McKeon (0-6, three frees). Sub used: M. O’Donohue for East (46 mins).
CLANN NA NGAEL: C. Hannon; R. Gavin, S. Flynn, G. Pettit; J. Connaughton, D. Flynn, F. Lennon; C. Shine (0-3), D. Shine (0-9, eight frees); C. Callinan, R. McManus, M. Scally (0-1); J. Fahy, U. Harney (2-0), J. Dunning. Subs used: D. Pettit for McManus (half-time), C. McManus (0-1) for Fahy (half-time), D. Connaughton for Dunning (41 mins), S. Pettit for Gavin (50 mins), R. Naughton for Callinan (54 mins)
Wides: Boyle – 6; Clann na nGael – 3
Yellow Cards: Boyle – S. Purcell (43 mins), D. Callaghan (55 mins); Clann na nGael – none.
Red Cards: Boyle – none; Clann nan Gael – none.
Referee: O. Kelly.
Player of the Match: The Team (Boyle). The class of Enda Smith, the controlling influence of Seán Purcell, the ability of Darren O’Connor to win breaking ball, the strength of Roch Hanmore, the maturity and scoring ability of Cian McKeon, the composure of Kieran Cox under pressure, the constant driving of Tadgh McKenna — Boyle had stars all over the field on Saturday evening.
Fergal Lennon, Cathal Shine, Graham Pettit and Ultan Harney had their moments for Clann na nGael.
*Thanks to St. Croan’s GAA Club for providing refreshments during Saturday’s games. It is very much appreciated.