Thomas McCurtains 2-10
Tir Chonaill Gaels 1-10
by Fiona O’Brien
Thomas McCurtains are the only club that will field teams in two finals this weekend, as their junior footballers beat Tir Chonaill Gaels in a closely contested semi-final.
The Essex club’s intermediate hurlers are also in the final, as Tir Chonaill Gaels hopes of having two teams feature on London GAA’s football finale were dashed.
Tir Chonaill Gaels started the livelier of the two teams, with Ryan Elliott causing McCurtains backs all sorts of bother on the left wing.
He scored three points in the opening ten minutes, when coupled with Kevin Browne’s successful free gave his side a two point cushion over Paddy Halligan and Barry McHugh’s scores.
The Gaels were playing against the wind in the first half, and seemed to be in complete control of possession, but allowed McCurtains’ chances to stay alive through some sloppy discipline issues.
McHugh kicked four of their five first half points through frees that were awarded from very scoreable positions, and a few that were brought forward following needless protests from the Gaels’ players.
At half-time the Gaels were only a point ahead, but spectators thought it was a job well done, and that they could go on to take the match when playing with the wind in the second half.
McCurtains had other ideas however, and were first out of the blocks to thwart any Tir Chonaill signs of dominance, and McHugh took his opportunity from a free to bring the teams level at six a piece.
Ryan Kearney ran through the square and sliced his shot toward goal which just edged over Shane Kelly’s fingertips for a point.
They were rewarded soon after when Killian Butler put pressure on Kelly from Cormac McGarvey’s dangerous ball into the square, and forced the ball into the back of McCurtains’ net.
It looked like Tir Chonaill were finally starting to edge past their opponents but two substitutions from the McCurtains bench changed the shape of the match entirely.
Ryan Carson made a powerful run and linked up with Liam Meirtneach well to gain important ground in the Gaels’ half. The ball was passed to Halligan who struck an almost-perfect point attempt, that bounced back off the posts. Liam Meirtneach was quickest on the rebound and passed the ball beyond Eoin Higgins to level the scores.
They were now four points ahead, and despite a brilliantly orchestrated point by captain Tommy Moriarty, Tir Chonaill’s heads were down, especially after Liam Cunningham was red carded for a late shoulder.
Butler scored the next to get his side within two of their opponents, but it was to be their final point and was soon negated by a Meirtneach point of his own.
The final five minutes saw the Gaels bombard McCurtains’ square looking for an equaliser but some brave defending from Jimmy Keane and Richard Ellis ensured that there was to be no extra time in this match.
Thomas McCurtains: Shane Kelly, John Paul McArdell, Graham Johnson, Jimmy Keane, Richard Ellis, Michael O’Leary, Liam Meirtneach (1-1), James Kelly, Paddy O’Neill, Gavin Gallagher, James Searson, Philip Murphy (0-1), Paddy Halligan (0-1), Barry McHugh (1-7, 5 frees), John Winters Subs: Steven Ward for Searson, Ryan Carson for Kelly, Sean Morrissey for Gallagher
Tir Chonaill Gaels: Eoin Higgins, Patrick O’Connor, Cormac McGarvey, Jack Elliott, Gerard Geraghty, Gavin McEvoy, Steven Ruddy, Patrick Flynn, Liam Cunningham, Ryan Kearney (0-1), Ryan Elliott (0-4), Tommy Moriarty (0-1), Killian Butler (1-1), Kevin Browne (0-3, 3 frees), Keiran Clarke Subs: Donal Geraghty for Kearney, Clive Mills for Browne