St Gabriel’s: 4-20
Fulham Irish: 1-10
By Adam Shaw
St Gabriel’s produced an utterly dominant performance to see off Fulham Irish and reach the final of the Ryan Cup.
David Egan and Michael Ivens scored two goals each, while Paddy Kelly – who completed an irrepressible attacking triumvirate – racked up four points. Fulham fought bravely and they can perhaps consider themselves unlucky to have a potentially-decisive first half goal ruled out for a square ball. But they could hardly complain about the final result, as Gabriel’s, who now look forward to a showdown with Robert Emmetts, showed their class.
It was Fulham who started brightest, with Kevin Davy and captain Shane O’Donnell utilising the slope well to score from almost identical spots just inside the opposition half. Eoin Kelly stroked over a free to half the deficit, before Luke Slyman restored the two-point advantage with another long range point. After five minutes, we were treated to the first glimpse of Gabriel’s attacking talent as Ivens, Paddy Kelly and Egan combined.
A fluid move involving all three players ended with Egan in plenty of space and he coolly finished it off, slotting the ball into the bottom corner. Eoin Kelly added another free before Ivens added a score from the lefthand touchline.
O’Donnell led the Fulham recovery mission from the front, scoring a monster point from well inside his own half before knocking over a second from fifteen yards further forward. However, a couple of wides from a number of Fulham players kept Gabriel’s just in front and they extended their lead when Ivens latched on to a great ball from Eoin Kelly and popped it over the bar.
Eoin Kelly scored another free to put his side three points clear then, with Gabriel’s threatening to pull away, Fulham suddenly thought they were back on level terms. O’Donnell pumped the ball forward with a trademark powerful strike before it was expertly hooked past James Barrett by Niall Madden. But the referee deemed Madden to have entered the square illegally and chalked the goal off.
To add insult to injury for Fulham, their opponents had the ball in the net five minutes later, though there was little controversy surrounding this effort. Paddy Kelly showed superb feet to free up space before expertly playing it through to Ivens. The full-forward collected the ball and did the rest as Gabriel’s opened up a six-point cushion. Eoin Kelly scored his fourth free of the match before Enda Cooney got in on the act to put Gabriel’s in control.
Slyman pulled one back for Fulham but, at halftime; it was already looking like a long road ahead if they were to get back into the match. O’Donnell scored an excellent free from the lefthand touchline at the 65-metre line as Fulham looked to cling on to their opponents’ coattails. But some awful defending, combined with a little luck saw Egan get his second goal of the match when he bundled past three players before the ball squirmed underneath Donal Casey.
This goal signalled a change of gear for Gabriel’s; as if they felt the game was won and they could now play with more freedom. Cooney and Paddy Kelly scored points before Eoin Kelly effortlessly landed a 65. Stephen Martin halted the momentum with a routine score before Paddy Kelly displayed a great turn of pace to beat his man and extend the Gabriel’s advantage.
Fulham did manage to find the back of the net midway through the second-half when Michael Harte was found by Madden and the left-hard forward made no mistake from a few yards out.
Paddy Kelly and O’Donnell traded points, the latter a free, before Gabriel’s went on a scoring spree which saw them add three points and a fourth goal. Neil Rogers scored twice, while Ivens completed his brace and notched up a further point for good measure.
Harte scored Fulham’s final point of the day with a routine effort from 20 yards before Gabriel’s finished with a flourish. Ivens converted his own free and Conor Sexton opened his personal account with two minutes left to play. The tenacious Michael Coady continued to prove a thorn in Fulham’s side until the end and his hard work created a chance for Egan, who duly knocked over the score.
Cooney completed a treble of points with a simple finish before, appropriately, Paddy Kelly had the last word, twisting and turning to gain a yard before fading the ball through the posts from the right-hand side.
ST GABRIEL’S: James Barrett; Thomas Laffy, Neil Coady, Stephen Crowe; Michael Coady, Neil Rogers (0- 02, 1f), Francis Tierney; Luke Hands, Enda Cooney (0-03); Conor Sexton (0-01), Alan Cawley, Eoin Kelly (0- 05, 4f, 1’65); Patrick Kelly (0-04), Michael Ivens (2-04, 1f), David Egan (2-01)
FULHAM IRISH: Donal Casey; Colm Kennedy, Francis Ryan, James McSwiney; Dermot Hayes, Fergus O’Regan, Eoin McCarthy; Stephen Martin (0-01), Shane O’Donnell (0-06, 2f); Jim Nelligan, Kevin Davy (0-01), Michael Harte (1-01); Luke Slyman (0-02), Niall Madden, John Condon