The Irish World SHC Preliminary Rnd
St Gabriel’s 3-25
By Patrick Keane
At Montrose Park
St Gabriel’s started their season in dominating fashion by handing out a heavy defeat to Cuchullains on Sunday.
Never taking their foot off the gas, Gabriel’s showed that on top form they will be a tough test for anyone in the championship round robin.
Swift passing, great movement and clinical finishing were a feature of this Gabriel’s display as they brushed aside a Cuchullians team who were never allowed to get into their stride.
Despite the St Gabriel’s undoubted dominance, it was Cuchullains who put up the first point of the game, with Fionn Byrnn dispatching a nicely taken free early on.
But that only seemed to wake Gabriel’s up and they began to dominate possession, winning a large percentage of high balls in the centre of the park.
The up in tempo served the Gabriel’s well as they clinically put away three points on the bounce. Conal Larkins’ point, in particular, was tremendous, breaking free past two defenders to dink a lovely ball between the sticks.
Early on Cuchullains did show fight, answering back almost immediately with points from Joe Cashman and Cathal Noonan. Noonan’s was, however, the fourth and final point for Cuchullains.
Between Michael Ivors’ frees and Shane Lawless’ distribution, Gabriel’s began to look unstoppable, showing tremendous flair. Gabriel’s moved effortlessly into a substantial lead as they approached the half-time break.
It would have been a lot worse for Cuchullains had it not been for a brave stop by ‘keeper Osin Gately, who pushed aside a point-blank strike from Shane Lawless.
Gately’s performance was a plus for Cuchullains, but the ‘keeper was a spectator in the second half, as Gabriel’s upped their clinicalness in front of goal.
With ten minutes left in the half, the Cuchullains’ square was starting to resemble the Alamo. Not least when a blocked strike from Michael Ivors caused a massive goal-line scramble.
As the half-time whistle blew Cuchullains were perhaps fortunate to still be within touching distance, although as Gabriel’s left the pitch they did so with a still commanding 0-12 to 0-4 lead.
If Cuchullains had a notion that the second half would bring a brief reprieve then they were mistaken, as Gabriel’s unleashed their offensive potential with early scores from David O’Gorman and Neil Rogers.
Cuchullains for a brief spell held well defensively, stopping and blocking numerous attacks in their own square.
But the floodgates opened when Gabriel’s Oisin Royston scored a simple tap in from close range. With this Cuchullains’ heads appeared to drop and Gabriel’s took full advantage scoring two similar one-on-one goals from Stephen Lohan and Shane Lawless.
Cuchullains did have opportunities of their own in the second half, but missed frees from Fionn Byrnn and an unlucky strike off the post signalled that this was not going to be their day.
Things went from bad to worse for Cuchullains as the rain began to fall and the Gabriel’s forwards were still switched on. Further points from Oisin Royston and Ivors just cemented a torrid afternoon for the team in white.
With the game all but won, St Gabriel’s brought on a fresh pair of legs with Brian Hickey taking to the field. Hickey’s entrance would rub salt in to the wounds of Cuchullains as he notched a point in the final minutes.
The victory secures St Gabriel’s a place in the senior championship round robin, while Cuchullains go into the second round of the championship, where they’ll be joined by the intermediate side which win the senior qualifying round.
St Gabriels: James Barrett; Eoin Pierce, Conor Helebent, Ronan Royston; Eddie Burke, Neil Rogers (0-1), Lee Murphy (0-1); David Nolan, David O’ Gorman (0-4); Shane Lawless (1-6), Michael Ivors (0-6, 4f), Stephen Lohan (1-1); Conal Larkin (0-1), Andrew Curtain (0-2), Oisin Royston (1-2). Subs: Brian Hickey (0-1).
Cuchullains: Oisin Gately; Connor O’Keefe, Gary Walsh, Niall Gunning; Eoin Scully, Chris Teague, John Brady; Brian White, Cathal Noonan (0-1); Joe Cashman (0-1), Aidan Power, Tony Fonde; Sean Connaughton, Alan Tobin, Fionn Byrne (0-2f). Subs: Luke Cleary.
Referee: Mattie Maher.