St Gabriels: 4-14
Robert Emmetts: 0-15
By Adam Shaw
David O’Gorman scored twice as St Gabriel’s produced a stunning performance to overcome a lacklustre Robert Emmetts at East Lane. David Coffey and Ian Mackessey also found the net as the hosts capitalised on a string of uncharacteristic errors from the reigning champions.
James Barrett scored eight points to maintain momentum, as Gabriel’s showed excellent discipline to focus on their own game and secure the victory. The visitors tried to chip away at the deficit, with Eoin Chawke scoring ten of his team’s total, but they ultimately found it too great a mountain to climb.
The sloping pitch and strong winds at East Lane suggested that Gabriel’s would have some sort of an advantage in the first half and it seemed that way early on as they looked to open up a lead. Barrett scored an excellent ‘65’ after five minutes but couldn’t repeat the trick with a free from ten yards further back a minute later.
Emmetts punished their opponents for not making more of their quick start as Cathal Kheoe found some space and knocked the ball over the bar. Gabriel’s were back in front soon after as O’Gorman used the wind effectively to score from the left hand sideline but a free from Chawke just in front of halfway restored parity. Barrett added a free of his own from a difficult angle before a sharp take, turn and strike Richard Murphy ensured the nipand- tuck nature of the match was maintained.
The home side decided to crank it up a gear midway through the first half and were rewarded with four unanswered points and two goals. Barrett got the ball rolling with his first score from open play before three frees in as many minutes solidified his team’s advantage.
A touch of fortune – or perhaps genius – followed as O’Gorman continued to torment Emmetts with his dead ball play from the sideline. Lining up an effort from the right-hand side, roughly ten yards in front of the halfway line, he chopped down hard on the ball and saw it sail all the way towards the posts, over Padge Buckley’s head and into the top corner of the net.
The away side, and in particular Buckley, were clearly rattled by what had happened as seconds later, the ball was once again nestled in the goal.
The Emmetts stopper should have comfortably dealt with a hopeful punt forward from Ronan Royston but he spilled the ball, allowing Mackessey to steal in and tap into an empty net. Evidently reeling, the holders were clearly relieved when Kheoe was pulled back and the referee awarded a free.
This moment of respite turned into something even greater when Chawke landed an extremely difficult free; navigating the slope, wind and angle to excellent effect. Two Chawke points either side of a well-worked score from Kheoe meant that Emmetts were still in the game, and as the halftime whistle blew, it was only the two goals which separated the sides.
The men in yellow realised they would need a quick start in the second period if they were to eat into the Gabriel’s cushion. However, in spite of attacking into the wind and up the hill, it was the hosts who ramped up the pressure.
David Coffey entered a fierce battle with Stephen Griffen and, having come out on top, fed the ball to Patrick Kelly. Kelly stepped his man and had a sight of goal, but chose to take the point and stretch the lead to seven.
Things went from bad to worse for Emmetts and their man in between the sticks as Coffey got away with a mistimed effort to score Gabriel’s third of the match. A nice move involving Kelly and O’Gorman saw the ball reach the full forward on the right hand side.
In acres of space and with plenty of time, he wound up his shot but couldn’t connect cleanly. The ball, however, trickled past Buckley after it ricocheted off his knee and but for the time remaining, the match would have been over there and then. Emmetts, led by the irrepressible Chawke, rallied once more and the half-forward planted his third free of the match with 17 minutes left on the clock. Murphy was gradually growing into the game for the visitors and he notched two points in quick succession, combining well with Brendan Naylor for the first of these.
Barrett halted the charge with a routine free after Kelly was hauled down by the Emmetts captain, Mark Conroy, before Derek Morkham finished off a nice move to put the lead at nine points. Chawke, however, refused to lie down and let the game slip away, as he embarked on a one-man mission to rescue it.
Two impressive frees followed by a monster point from well inside his own half produced some worried faces on the Gabriel’s bench and they were well and truly hopping when the Emmetts’ talisman fizzed another strike over the bar. It was left to O’Gorman to settle things down when he returned a remarkable individual score having knocked the ball past his marker by connecting with a long ball from Eoin Kelly in the Gabriel’s goal, scooped it up and fired it straight and true.
Another Chawke free brought the deficit back down to five but this turned out to be the away side’s final score, as Gabriel’s collected themselves and ran down the final few minutes effectively. They showed great skill and composure to further their advantage – O’Gorman again collecting a high ball from his ‘keeper and drawing the free, which Barrett duly dispatched.
O’Gorman added another classy score, collecting the ball off Barrett and fading his strike in from the right. He turned provider moments later, allowing Mackessey to score, before he rounded off the superb win with his second goal of the match.
ST GABRIEL’S: Eoin Kelly; Michael Coady, Neil Coady, Francis Tierney; Enda Cooney, Conor Sexton, Eoin Pearse; Ronan Royston, James Barrett (0-8, 5f, 1‘65’); Derek Morkham (0-1), David O’Gorman (2-3), Patrick Kelly (0-1); David Coffey (1-0), Ian Mackessey (1-1), Oliver Sheeky
ROBERT EMMETTS: Padge Buckley; Mark Conroy, Stephen Griffen, Neil McGill; Lee McDermont, Fergus McMahon, Conor Walsh; Michael O’Leadedan, Tomas Lawrence; Eoin Chawke (0-10, 6f), Richard Murphy (0-3), Cathal Kheoe (0-2); Brendan Naylor, Rauiri Costello, Dennis O’Regan