McAleer & Rushe Murphy Cup Rnd 1
Thomas McCurtains 3-12
By Damian Dolan
At Montrose Park
The game swung decisively in the east Londoners’ favour four minutes from time when Garryowen’s Ronan Ferguson received his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
Just two points separated the sides at that point, but Garryowen were aggrieved at the awarding of a free moments earlier, which McCurtains’ Niall Coffey duly despatched.
Ferguson voiced his protests too vehemently for referee Billy Power’s liking and Garryowen duly finished the game with 14-men.
What had been building to a thrilling climax petered out thereafter as McCurtains closed the game out with 1-2 – Conor Murphy with the goal. But it added a gloss to the final scoreline which didn’t tell the full story of this nip-and-tuck cup clash.
There had been little to choose between the sides in the opening ten minutes – McCurtains leading by the odd point in three.
But points from Miguel Kaguako – all power and pace – Ferguson and Barry O’Donnell in the space of two minutes saw Garryowen surge ahead.
McCurtains pulled one back through Coffey, but when the ball sat up invitingly Henry Cassidy beat Kevin Delahunty to the punch. With the McCurtains full back committed and now out of position, Cassidy’s punch broke for Ferguson and he fed Sean Mahony to beat Conor MulRennan.
Garryowen led 1-4 to 0-3. They were the side taking their chances.
John Rafferty’s lovely left foot strike pulled one back, with Sean Murphy and Coffey then setting up John McGuigan to point. When Peter Rafferty bounced off two tacklers to fire over, Mahony’s goal had been wiped out.
Garryowen still led by one at the break 1-4 to 0-6.
However, that didn’t last long as McCurtains hit them with two goals inside the opening three minutes.
Luke Wallace could only parry Tom Keane’s shot, and Cahir McBrearty had the easy task of palming into an empty net. Keith Ryan replied for Garryowen, only for Coffey’s shot to then drop short and John Rafferty got the decisive touch ahead of Wallace.
From trailing by one, McCurtains suddenly led by four, and we hadn’t played three minutes of the second half.
But Garryowen responded by clawing back three points in succession through Jack Phelan, Oladimeji OlaJubu and Ferguson (free). The gap was now just a point.
McCurtains, though, had an ace up their sleeve, and they now played it. Mark McGirr had been prominent in the club’s junior championship success of last year and no sooner was he introduced than he forced a good save from Wallace.
Wallace could then only watch, though, as McGirr fired over a cracking score. Wallace was rooted to the spot as John Rafferty’s low shot then fizzed past his right hand post.
McCurtains were enjoying a good spell and after Colin Brodigan had seen his effort come back off the post, only a good save from Wallace denied Conor Murphy on the follow up. The Garryowen goal was living a charmed life.
Two strikes from McGirr extended the McCurtains lead to four points with ten minutes remaining, only for Garryowen to produce another of their purple patches. Three scores in two minutes from Keith Ryan, Ferguson and Gavin Leonard reduced the gap to the minimum and set the stage for a grandstand finish.
It never materialised, however, as it all unravelled for Garryowen after that.
Thomas McCurtains: Conor MulRennan; Michael O’Leary, Kevin Delahunty, Mark McAuley; Peter Rafferty (0-1), John Winters, Brian Hurlihane; John McGuigan (0-1), Niall Coffey (0-3, 2f); Tom Keane, John Rafferty (1-1), Sean Murphy; Colin Brodigan, Conor Murphy (1-1), Cahir McBrearty (1-1). Subs: Mark McGirr (0-4) for Sean Murphy, Dermot Corrigan for O’Leary, Eddie Tyrell for Brodigan.
Garryowen: Luke Wallace; Darren Hannon, Rob O’Connor, Hughie Molloy; Oladimeji Olajubu (0-1), Gavin Leonard (0-1), Barry O’Donnell (0-1); Keith Ryan (0-2), Jack Phelan (0-1); Mick Moriarty, Paddy Coen, Henry Cassidy; Miguel Kaguako (0-1), Ronan Ferguson (0-4, 2f), Sean Mahony (1-0). Subs: Sean Caulfield, Justin Quinn.
Referee: Billy Power.