Toureen Junior Football Championship Rnd 2
Tir Chonaill Gaels 2-16
St Anthonys 0-3
By Damian Dolan
At McGovern Park, Ruislip
The Gaels captain put in a sparkling display, particularly in the second half, and his injury-time goal capped an impressive individual display.
However, the title favourites never needed to get out of more than second or third gear on Sunday, against an Anthonys side which only managed a solitary score from play and will want to write this one off.
The Reading outfit brought none of the fighting spirit they’d demonstrated in their Round 1 win over Moindearg, when they dug deep to win with 14-men.
On Sunday, it was all just a little bit too comfortable for the Gaels, and Anthonys know they’ll now need something from their final round clash with Brothers Pearse if they are to progress to the last four and keep alive their hopes of repeating their 2015 and 2013 junior title successes.
The Gaels, junior runners up in 2016 and 2012, never looked in danger from the moment Liam Cunningham buried the ball into the back of the Anthonys net in the sixth minute.
Anthonys, with first use of a strong wind, had actually opened the scoring through a Liam McGovern free.
But Cunningham’s net-breaker made it 1-2 to 0-1 to the Greenford side, and they never looked back, without ever hitting top form.
The Gaels controlled possession and moved it nicely at times for some well-taken scores, while Anthonys could get little going or exert any real pressure, even with the wind at their backs.
The biggest concern to Paul Coggins was the number of injuries the Gaels picked up.
One pleasing aspect will have been the manner of Cunningham’s goal, from a high ball driven into the square for the full forward to fight for. It was nothing more than a 50:50, but Cunningham made it his before finishing with aplomb.
Pleasing for Coggins to know that his side has a more direct option they can employ, to complement the guile.
The Gaels led by 1-7 to 0-2 at the break and were already home and dry.
The second half would belong to Kearney, who despite donning the number 6 jersey lined out in his customary centre forward role. The Gaels skipper accounted for 1-5 of the Gaels’ second half tally of 1-9.
The goal came right at the death with Clive Mills’s sublime cross field ball picking out Kearney in acres of space, and he finished with ease.
Anthonys put in a shift in the second half, but this was a day when little went right for them. For the Gaels, it was job done.
After being handed a Round 1 walkover from Brothers Pearse, the Gaels will round off their group campaign against Moindearg.
Tir Chonaill Gaels: Shane Gilsenan; Ollie Hayes, Matt Killeen, Brendan Rice; Aidan McGarvey, Ryan Kearney (1-7), Ryan McCready; Ewan Vasallo, Conor McCarthy; Rory Jennings, Liam Gallagher (0-1), Sean Killeen; Matthew McHugh (0-4, 3f), Liam Cunningham (1-1, 1f), Patrick O’Connor (0-1). Subs: Pat Flynn for Vasallo, Sean Rice (0-1) for Sean Killeen, Clive Mills (0-1f) for Jennings, Conor Redmond for Cunningham, Jack Elliott for Gallagher, Gerard Doherty for McGarvey.
St Anthonys: John O’Sullivan, Enda McBrien, Connor Curran, Liam Brennan; Cathal Flynn, Phil McCabe, Hugh Towey; Conor McKillop, Jonathan Lynn-Roberts; Liam McGovern (0-1f), Donal Roughneen (0-1f), Colm Fitzpatrick; Mathew Knocker, Colm O’Sullivan, Mick Laffey. Subs: Chris Gillen (0-1) for O’Sullivan, Joe Newton for Knocker, Cormac Meehan for Towey, Anthony McGrath for Laffey, Jamie Fitzpatrick for Lynn-Roberts, Shane Dowling for Colm Fitzpatrick.
Referee: Karl Rogers.