Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Salthill was last resort for St. Dominics

Connacht club IFC semi-final

Moycullen 3-12 St. Dominic’s 0-8

An eventful year in the history of St. Dominic’s came to a conclusion last Saturday afternoon in Galway city where the club was eliminated from the Connacht Intermediate football championship. 

A scoreline of 3-12 to 0-8 does not reflect the nature of a contest that absorbed spectators for half an hour in Salthill last Saturday. St. Dominic’s enjoyed parity throughout the first half and were losing by just one point at half-time. Injuries sustained by defenders Aidan Weir and Andy Grady just before the break knocked the Knockcroghery team out of its stride, however, and it was only after their departures that Moycullen began to dominate.

Michael Finneran, Paul Dolan, Liam Murray, and Mark Miley all acquitted themselves well on a day when St. Dominic’s supporters learned ‘the hard way’ about the significance of Aidan Weir for their team. Weir has been immense for his club in 2007 and his influence was illuminated by his absence from the fare in the second half in Salthill. The St. Dominic’s defence held fast against the assaults of Moycullen in the first half when Weir was positioned at number six. His departure from the fray just before half-time radically altered the nature of the contest and Moycullen cruised to victory in the second half.

The dismissal of Niall Naughton in the 46th minute was another blow for St. Dominic’s but at that stage the contest was over and the play was academic. Indeed Naughton was his team’s best player in the first half: the Rahara man utterly dominated the famous Galway player Pol Mac Fhlannacha and orchestrated St. Dominic’s attacks from the centre half-forward position. Mac Fhlannacha was almost anonymous in the opening period and only exacted his influence on the game in the final quarter. The St. Dominic’s player was given a straight red after being involved in an altercation with a Moycullen player.

Michael Finneran performed very well in midfield for St. Dominic’s. The tall number 9 illustrated his talent for ball-carrying with a number of incisive runs up the middle – and he fielded three high balls in the first half. Tom Gately played very well at wing-back in the first half but did not enjoy his role in the middle after the break when Moycullen were unstoppable.

Victory in the 2007 final of the Roscommon intermediate football championship and the attendant promotion to the senior championship were perfect tributes paid by the parish of Knockcroghery/St. John’s/Rahara to the memory of the late Roscommon All-Ireland winning captain, Jimmy Murray, who died in the village last spring. A Connacht intermediate championship would have been another testimonial to the heroic 1943 and 1944 Roscommon captain, but it was not to be. This has been a splendidly successful year for the St. Dominic’s players and they look forward with confidence to the 2008 county senior championship.

The play: Points by Michael Finneran and Conor Fallon in the opening minutes prompted high hopes among the St. Dominic’s support, but the swift response of Moycullen with two points in five minutes was a warning. Conor Fallon’s second point gave buoyant Dominic’s a one-point advantage in the 12th minute, before Marc O’Loideain’s goal set up an intriguing second quarter.

Michael Finneran was denied a goal by O’Frighil in the 20th minute when his close-range shot was palmed around the post. The resultant 45’ was steered between the posts by the expert midfielder. Gearoid Breadseach’s point preceded Conor Fallon’s second point in the 22nd minute. This was St. Dominic’s best score of the game: Fallon kicked the point off the outside of his boot from out on the left wing after intelligent play by Weir. Miley’s kick-outs and Finneran’s fielding were a delight for spectators at this stage.

The injuries of Weir and Grady necessitated their departures in the final moments of the first half and this gravely damaged St. Dominic’s. Fallon and O’Bothain exchanged points just before the break.

Points by Breadseach and Padraic O’Loideain in the 33rd and 35th minutes presaged an onslaught by Moycullen. Conchubair O’Bothain’s superb goal in the 37th minute was the decisive score. The number 12 lashed the ball past Miley into the top right corner of the net after gaining possession just to the right of the goal on the 14-metre line. A point from Brian O’Fatharta gave Moycullen a seven-point lead in the 45th minute.

Kieran Hunt scored an excellent point from 30 metres with his first touch in the 47th minute but the men of Moycullen were on a roll by that stage. Centre-forward O’hUiginn scored a goal just before the dismissal of Naughton and then Pol Mac Flannacha kicked two frees with his famous left foot. Three more points from Moycullen and a free from Michael Finneran brought the game to a conclusion.

The crowd

About 300 people watched this game. The celebrated Galway footballer Michael Donnellan was there as was Galway’s 1998 All-Ireland winning captain, Ray Silke. Michael Holland of St. Croan’s and of the Connacht GAA Council was present.

The venue

The crowd failed to generate an intense atmosphere in this large GAA venue. The pitch was in fine condition and parking, which is often a chore at Irish GAA stadiums, was not a problem. The Connacht Council provided the press with refreshments at half-time.

Referee Watch 

Declan Corcoran of Mayo intervened too frequently during this game and prevented both teams from playing fluent, free-flowing, football.

Players who did well: Midfielder Marc O’Loideain, full-forward Padraig O’Loideain, and full-back Barrai O’Conghaile were best for Moycullen who were well served by their free-scoring forwards on Saturday. Mark Miley, Tom Gately, Michael Finneran, and Niall Naughton were best for St. Dominic’s.

Player of the match

Marc O’Loideain drove his team forward from midfield throughout the game. O’Loideain was the architect of three of his team’s scores in a tight first half. The imperious number eight scored a great goal in the first half and also kicked a good point.

Moycullen: Seamus O’Frighill; Caoimhin O’Cearra, Barrai O’Conghaille, Ciaran O’Conchubhair; Sean Breadsach, Pol Mac Fhlannacha (0-3, frees), Brain O’hAini; Marc O’Loideain (1-1), Gearoid Breadseach (0-2, 0-1 free); Brian O’Fatharta (0-1), Tomas O’hUiginn (1-0), Roibeard O’Mraoilidha; Diarmuid O’Laoi, Padraig O’Loideain (0-4), Gearoid Mac Fhlannacha. Subs used: Conchubair O’Bothain (1-1) for Mac Fhlannacha (inj., 5 mins); Anroi O’Loidean for O’Conchubhair (52 mins); Cathal Mac Fhlannacha for O’Fatharta (54 mins).

St. Dominic’s: Mark Miley; Padraic Mullally, Padraic Naughton, Andy Grady; Anthony Naughton, Aidan Weir, Tom Gately; Liam Murray, Michael Finneran (0-3, frees); Ultan Kelly, Niall Naughton, Paul Dolan; Seamus McKeown, Conor Fallon (0-4, 0-1 free), Tomas Gilleran. Subs used: Arthur Beades for Grady (inj., 29 mins); David Corcoran for Weir (inj., 30 mins); Kieran Hunt (0-1) for Gilleran (40 mins); Brian Carney for Anthony Naughton (46 mins); Aidan Fallon for Miley (59 mins).

Sent off: Niall Naughton.

Referee: David Corcoran (Mayo).