GAA Lancashire SFC Final
St Peters crowned kings of Lancashire
St Peters 3-07
John Mitchels 0-12
It was an absorbing contest from start to finish St Peters wrested the Lancashire title from John Mitchels in a game that exhibited the very best of Gaelic football in the Northwest at a sun-drenched Old Bedians on Sunday.
In the end it was the ability of the winners to seize vital opportunities, as three goals at crucial times kept them in front of a Liverpool side which refused to surrender the crown without giving everything they had.
Conor Doherty had St Peters ahead inside two minutes from a 30 metre free after Stephen Hughes was fouled. Mitchels readily took up the challenge and when Niall McShane was tumbled 25 metres out Michael Molloy knocked over the free.The Manchester men were aware of the danger Molloy could pose and James Quinn was handed the unenviable man marking job, but he did superbly for the large part holding the Donegal man down for the full match.
As the match swung from end-to-end both defences were excellent as time and again promising attacking moves were snuffed out.
Molloy made his first escape from Quinn in the ninth minute to gather a quick free from Paddy Mulligan and drill over a point from wide on the left. Joe Corcoran and Ronan Gallagher were getting a decisive edge around the middle and the extra possession had a telling effect in a three minute period at the end of the first quarter.
Stuart Cherry slotted a point after a swift passing move down the right and in the 14th minute came the first breakthrough.
Gallagher launched a Garryowen into the square and the colossus that is Liam Coyne soared to punch home to the corner of the net. Conor Doherty added a wonderful point from the left wing and Mitchels were rocking.
But back they came and Mulligan picked out Ryan Mullan and kept going to receive the return pass and punch the ball over. Molloy got free again wide on the left wing to lob a beauty but Dessie O Malley replied with a massive free.
Twenty minutes in Peters struck their second piercing blow when a sweeping passing move put Steven Hughes through and he lashed his shot to the bottom corner, giving Daniel Hickey no chance.
Molloy responded with a close in free after Martin Dolan was pushed over, only to see Coyne hit a splendid 45 straight between the posts at the other end. The pace remained relentless until the break and it was a Mulligan free that closed out the scoring to leave the challengers ahead by 2-4 to 0-5 at half time.
Whatever words of wisdom were imparted in the Mitchels camp at the interval they certainly worked. Kevin Kane and Edward Jackson were introduced to the attack and they were a team transformed.
Mulligan and Feargal Doyle came into the game at midfield, Martin Carey and Sean Rice in turn joined the attack from the half back line while Padraig Brennan, Kane and Ryan Mullan really came to the fore.
Carey got forward to take a pass from Brennan and after being fouled saw Molloy swing the trusty left boot and knock the free over in the second minute. Molloy himself won a free to minutes later out on the left and Mulligan applied the touch.
They were rampant in that early stage and Brennan set Kane up for another point. By the seventh minute of the half it was a one point game as Molloy and Jackson did the spadework and Mullan raised another white flag.
Suddenly Peters were facing serious questions and how they responded. Conor Doherty, Stephen Hughes and Joe Corcoran were all involved in a move which saw Ronan Gallagher in with a chance.
His low shot on goal was blocked by Alan Brown but the ball broke for Coyne and the big man lashed the ball to the net. Mitchels roared forward again for Molloy and Mulligan to bring the gap back to just two but that was as close as they were to get.
The pace of the game was beginning to take its toll and both sides missed chances which in the Mitchels’ case were to prove costly.
Importantly for the winners their defence re-established itself and Dominic Glennon played a captain’s role in settling his team, while Corcoran and Gallagher steadied up the middle sector.
Scores were at a premium in the last quarter though Doherty did peg over another free with seven minutes to go. There were only two left when Dessie O Malley raced in from the right corner to fire over the insurance point.
On reflection it’s impossible to find anyone who had a bad game and picking out names seems a pointless exercise. Even though the Liverpool defence shipped three goals it was the quality of their opponents, rather than any defensive deficiency, that created them.
To a man every player on the pitch played their part in a superb advertisement for Lancashire football. But in the end the game is about taking your chances and it was the ruthless manner in which St Peters dispatched theirs that left them as deserving winners of their second title in three years.
St Peters: J Sheehan, P O Shea, R Gilligan, J Quinn, P McMahon, D Glennon, G Morris, R Gallagher, J Corcoran, S Quigg, C Doherty (0-3), S Cherry (0-1), S Hughes (1-0), L Coyne (2-1), D O Malley (0-2).
John Mitchels: D Hickey, A Brown, A Murray, J O Hagan, P McManus, S Rice, M Carey, F Doyle, P Mulligan (0-4), N McShane, M Higgins, P Brennan, M Molloy (0-6), M Dolan, R Mullan (0-1). Subs: E Jackson for Dolan, K Kane (0-1) for McShane.