Lancashire Footballers do superbly as hurlers continue to develop
LANCASHIRE COUNTY BOARD FOR 2017
Cathaoirleach/Chairperson: Shane Walsh (St.Brendans)
Leas Chathaoirleach/Vice-Chairperson: James Wray (St.Lawrences)
Rúnái/Secretary: Michael Warr (St.Lawrences)
Cisteoir/Treasurer: Kieran Gleeson (St.Brendans)
Oif Chaid Poiblí/PRO: Cathal Harkin (St.Lawrences)
Runai Cunta/Assistant Secretary Cluchi Bainisteoir/ Fixtures Manager: George O’Rourke (St.Peters)
Oif Iomanicht Forbartha/Development Officer: Stan Murray-Hession (Fullen Gaels)
Oifigigh Cosanta Leanaí: Kieran Gleeson (St.Brendans)
Oif Oige/Youth Officer: Brendan Deasy (St.Lawrences)
Oif Gaeilge agus Cultúir /Officer for Irish Language and Culture: Niall Farren (Oisins
It was a standout year for Lancashire’s inter-county footballers, as they defied the odds to become British champions and go into the All-Ireland series.
After a string of comprehensive victories London were deemed to be the competition’s favourites, as they progressed straight to the semifinals after holding Gloucestershire to just five scores as they registered 3-16. But Lancashire dug deep and after an enthralling initial semifinal outing against Scotland in which they needed a replay to secure their place in the final, but it was against London that they truly turned on the class.
Winning by 1-10 to 2-6 in a ‘proverbial game of two halves Lancashire emerged victorious by the slenderest of margins after an absorbing contest at Parc na hEireann’.
To start London threatened to blow their opponents away, taking the early lead as they proved to be faster to the ball. Two points down after four minutes, Lancashire were struggling to find any rhythm before Michael Molloy collected Stephen Sands pass and turned to fire over, and Chris Mullen levelled it soon after. London began to turn the screw going into the second quarter but a mixture of profligacy and resolute defending helped keep the scores down.
At the break it was 2-3 to 0-4 scoreline at the break, but the northwest side did well to respond and seal the win. They scored a magnificent 1-6 while holding London to just three points in the second half to book their place against Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final. Although they would lose, manager Liam Coyne was delighted that the newly managed team were putting themselves in such high-profile situations.
“Liam Coyne is Lancashire through and through, referring to his paternal home of Galway as his ‘second county’,” reported the Irish World.
“The county’s football manager is awaiting the game of his life as his team takes on Kerry, just seven months after taking on the job. And his own inter-county record as a player isn’t too bad either.
“He won U14, U16, U21 and the minor international titles, as well as four All Britains, Lancashire senior and junior championships and All Britain club championship titles with his side.
“But he is not living in the past and looking forward to the task ahead. Says Liam: “Everyone is absolutely buzzing. I just want to wake up and it be Saturday morning already.
“To play Kerry is like playing the Real Madrid of soccer, it’s like a dream come true.”
In hurling, Lancashire competed in the Lory Meagher Cup for only the second year running. Similarly to the disadvantage that London and Warwickshire face when they enter the National League against teams who have had early-year provisional competition to brush up on, Lancashire struggle when it comes to championship competition.
As the county have only been competing consecutively for the past two years they are yet to join the Allianz league set-up and so by the time the Lory Meagher comes round they have had no competitive matches. This year saw them finish bottom of the group, but with the management keen to develop hurling in the county it should only be a matter of time before Croke Park grants them with entry into the league system.
Two players were also recognised for their contribution to inter-county hurling as Waterford duo David Callihane and Seamus Richardson received All-Star awards for their Lory Meagher performances. Lancashire coach Richie Barry told the Irish World that the pair were very important to Lancashire’s season for different reasons.
“Seamus Richardson, who plays his club hurling with Fullen Gaels, started at full back for us in his first game at county this year, but then wing back after that,” he said. “He was outstanding for us, he’s a really gritty hurler. It’s very rare that he would lose any 50/50 ball. He’s a dogged back and a very good man to rely upon to protect at the back.
“He was hugely committed this year and rarely missed training.
“We utilised him as a man marker on other teams’ key players and he done a great job on that for us.
“Then David joined us for his first year at the beginning, and he plays his club hurling with the Wolfe Tones. He played wing back all year and is also a very skilful player. “He’s great at winning possession but then in going forward too. He’s a real attacking threat at the back, creating scores and getting a couple himself, so he was a big standout player for us too.”
In ladies football Lancashire qualified for the All-Ireland Junior Championship after they came second in the All-Britain competition, eventually losing to London in the final. Their next competition was against Antrim, and despite scoring 4-10 of their own, they were comprehensively beaten by a classy attacking outfit who put 8- 19 away of their own.
As Martin Mannering reported for the Irish World: “The Glensiders had far too much firepower in a score-fest which yielded a dozen goals and just short of thirty points. No blanket defence here, indeed at times there was no defence at all as forwards feasted on the space allowed.
“Lancashire got off to the worst possible start, conceding a penalty in the second minute which Claire Timoney drilled to the bottom right hand corner after a foul on Mairead Cooper. Cooper added a point after full forward Eimear Gallagher created the opening.
“Aisling McFarland’s fifth minute point was sandwiched between two fine efforts from the home sides Amanda Treanor who led by example in typical fashion.”
In club competition Fullen Gaels claimed the senior hurling championship as they came out the right side of a thrilling decider against Wolfe Tones by 4-11 to 1- 15. Raising the green flag four times in a five-point victory it was the last two minutes that proved most frantic as they conceded one to Wolfe Tones and scored two themselves.
Having earned a 1-8 to 0-8 lead at the break it was Tommy McNamara who looked to give them a bit of insurance coming into injury time, as he toe-poked home to give the Manchester men a five-point lead but Michael McCarthy’s rasping low drive from a free reduced the Liverpool side’s deficit to just two points.
However, the impressive James Fitzmaurice picked up possession wide on the left from the ensuing puck-out and danced his way through the Wolfe Tones defence before firing low across Stephen Hennessy to secure the win for Stan Murray-Hession’s side.
The Gaels went on to face London intermediate champions Father Murphy’s in the All-Britain final and beat them by a point in a 1-15 to 1-14 victory to earn their place in the All-Ireland proper.
“Shane Jennings was the star turn as Fullen Gaels retained their All Britain hurling title with the narrowest of victories over Fr Murphy’s at Parcna hEireann,” reported Martin Mannering. “It was a seesaw game which ended when Murphy’s late rally just came up short but it was the superb performance which yielded a nine point contribution from the Gaels wing forward that was the major difference.”
They initially conceded a goal to Mick Gordon after a long drive into the square by Stephen Bardon, but the Gaels continued to attack with Jennings the driving force behind the comeback. After a number of wides from the London team, who took 17 minutes to raise the white flag initially, the game began to pick up tempo, as the Gaels went into the dressing rooms with a slender 0-8 to 1-4 lead at the break.
Fullen Gaels sprang from the blocks on the restart and within 12 minutes had surged eight points clear. Looking down and out Murphy’s found their mojo and set about their recovery mission.
Bardon finally found his range and hit two 65’s, Sean Cullen swung over a beauty before Bardon hit a monster from a dead ball from out on the right sideline and well inside his own half.
Meanwhile this period saw Gaels lose their radar and a series of wides allowed the Londoners to eat into their lead. Centre back Conor Kerr made it a two point game seven minutes out but Darragh O’Brien somewhat steadied Manchester nerves with an excellent point from the left wing. As the clock ticked down Murphy’s poured forward but some terrific defending from the Gaels kept them out. Bardon did add a free but Jennings replied with the score of the game as he collected a ball on the right sideline and turned in a flash to lash it between the posts.
“Sean Howlin closed the gap again and Shaun Brennan closed it to one as nerves jangled. Gaels won the last all important puck out and though Jennings long range effort drifted wide of the right hand post time had expired and the Murphy’s lads sank to their knees on the whistle as Fullen Gaels were in jubilation mood.”
But Fullen would end up losing to Calry St Joseph’s in the All-Ireland JHC by 2-12 to 0-9.
“The Manchester lads suffered a calamitous start to the game and never really looked like reeling in their opponents.
“Calry struck a heavy blow in the third minute when Michael Gilmartin brilliantly fielded a Ronan Cox lob and Fullen just couldn’t find any rythym to their play and constantly ran into cul de sacs formed by the resolute Calry defence.”
In club football John Mitchells claimed their fourth title in a row, and their eighth in the space of a dominant decade, as they beat St Brendan’s in a lacklustre final. Martin Mannering reported that the 0-10 to 0-8 decider ‘flickered at sporadic intervals but never really caught fire’.
It put their team into a All- Britain clash against Sean McDermotts of Birmingham, which they won 1-15 to 2-5.
“It did take them some time however to stamp their authority on the tie as the hosts put plenty more road blocks in their way with a gutsy and whole hearted display which eventually came up short,” said Martin Mannering.
Next on the list was Neasden Gaels, the London intermediate champions, and the Lancashire side were victorious in a turbulent one-goal victory (1-11 to 0-11).
“It was cagey stuff at times with both sides defending in numbers and too many misplaced passes by both sides preventing any real pattern of play to develop.”
On the brink of half-time Rory Sharvin rose majestically for a Michael Higgins 45 attempt to claim a goal and give his side a 1- 6 to 0-6 lead at the break. In the second half Neasden put Mitchel’s on the back foot, holding them scoreless for 15 minutes, but seven minutes from time Higgins again got the defining score to reach their fourth consecutive All-Britain final. But Dunedin Connollys of Scotland would prove too strong for the Lancashire side as the Bravehearts needed extra-time to register a 1-19 to 2-14 victory.
“It was a superb performance by the Edinburgh lads as to a man they worked their socks off and produced some thrilling football at times to go with the work,” said Martin Mannering of the Edinburgh team’s second British title.
“They virtually had to win the game twice as they saw a five point lead wiped out in four minutes of stoppage time which brought the tie to extra time.”