All-Britain Club Football Championship Semi-Final
Sean McDermotts (Warwickshire) 2.06
John Mitchels 1.13 (Lancashire)
It was the first time ever that a provincial semi final took place in Liverpool and for the large crowd who attended it will live long in the memory.
It was a terrific contest that had everything and though Mitchel’s led from start to finish they were never comfortable as the Birmingham lads stuck vehemently to their task before just coming up short.
The reigning All Britain champions always looked the stronger side but the sheer determination and will power of the McDermott’s side always kept them in with a shout.
The hosts got off to the ideal start when Collie Murphy raced onto Kieran Lynam’s perfectly placed pass to rattle the net in the third minute .Lynam who was a threat all game placed Eddie Jackson for a point a minute later and playing against the strong wind they looked fair set.
Ted Duffy settled the visitors with a pointed free in the sixth and Anthony Moriarity added a fine point from a tight angle a minute later. When Duffy converted another free shortly after it looked game on.
It was however noticeable that Mitchel’s were dominating the central third of the pitch with Paddy Mulligan and Denis O Neill controlling midfield. Martin Carey and Sean Rice were in support of the pair from the half back line while John McDermott, Jackson and Francis Campbell were on hand from the three quarter line to retain the upper hand. Michael Molloy and Lynam in particular were more than eager to make use of the ball coming their way. From the tenth to the twentieth minute they added four points with Lynam playing a part in all of them. He was fouled twice from which Molloy and Mulligan pointed, had a hand in a point from play by Molloy before splitting the posts himself. Joe Owens responded with a cracking score from the left corner to keep his side in touch but it was to be their last score of the half.
Indeed Mitchel’s only registered one score themselves in the final ten minutes despite continuing to dominate. Paddy Mulligan suffered a recurrence of the hamstring injury that ruled him out of the q-final and when he was forced to withdraw it seemed to have an unsettling affect on his teammates. The one score the did register before the break almost inevitably came from the boot of Lynam.
Collie Murphy started the second half as he did the first by opening the scoring,this time with a point but McDermotts hit back immediately. A long searching ball found Niall McCooey who combined with Niall Gilbride to put Joe Owen in the clear and he give Mattie Deeney no chance.They were unable to build on it though and the defending champions continued to dominate. They moved six clear again by the end of the third quarter courtesy of a Molloy free and a brace from the imperious Lynam.
As the frantic pace began to take its toll the play became somewhat error strewn and a couple of late tackles from either side caused tempers to fray which resulted in a number of skirmishes breaking out to test the resolve of referee Mark McLoughlin. To his credit he handled affairs well and sensibly.
Anthony Moriarity pulled a point back for the challengers but with five minutes of normal time remaining Mark McMahon received a straight red card for striking out at Kieran Lynam . They refused to accept the inevitable and even when two more Lynam points left them six adrift they continued to press. Moriarity hammered home a goal in the fourth of ten added minutes to send some jitters through the home support which weren’t helped by a couple of glaring misses to wrap the game up.
In the end it fell to substitute Conal McGlade to ensure a place in the final as he calmly slotted a 45.
There was as much relief at the end as joy from the home support but that innate ability to withstand stern tests once again came to the fore in the tense finish. The experience of Sean Rice and Alan Murray who ran himself to a standstill stood out in defence while Denis O Neill continued his impressive season at midfield.John McDermott and Collie Murphy also rolled back the years but the undoubted star of the show was Kieran Lynam. The Westmeath man has a splendid turn of foot and a sharp eye for the posts or finding a colleague in a better position.His tally of six points tells it own story The one big worry for Barry Morris going into the final will be the recurring hamstring problem hampering Paddy Mulligan.
Sean McDermotts can hold their heads high after a gutsy performance which suggested that a team with youth on their side will be serious challengers in the near future. Facing into the wind with five point deficit they could have capitulated but dug deep and stood toe to toe with their more experienced opponents. Dominic Walsh and Niall Gilbride led the defence by example while Andrew Gilbride and Brian Garrigan battled heroically at midfield.Ted Duffy until injured,Joe Owens and Anthony Moriarity were an ever present threat up front.
John Mitchel’s: Matty Deeney,Niall McShane,Alan Brown,Craig Owen,Sean Rice,Martin Carey,Paddy Mulligan(0-1f), Denis O Neill,Collie Murphy(1-1),Eddie Jackson(0-1),Francis Cassidy,Michael Molloy)0-3,2f),Kieran Lynam(0-6,1f)
Subs Kevin Kane for Paddy Mulligan,Conal McGlade(0-1,45) for Michael Molloy,John O Hagan for Alan Murray
Sean McDermotts: Malachy Felgate,Liam Gilbride,Dominic Walsh 4,Mark McMahon, Ryan Bennett, Niall Gilbride, Padraic Quaid, Andrew Willis, Brian Garrigan, Niall McCooey, Ted Duffy, Tommy Murphy, Conal Dowling, Anthony Moriarity, Joe Owens
Subs Enda Hanlon for Tommy Murphy, Joseph Dowling for Ted Duff