Hodson Bay Hotel Group SFC Semi-Final
Pádraig Pearses 3-10
It’s hard to know where to start when describing the second of the county SFC semi-finals in Dr. Hyde Park on Sunday last. It was entertaining at times but it was also chaotic, bizarre, infuriating and baffling. There were great scores, great saves, bad misses, defensive lapses and a dramatic finish, and at the centre of it all was referee Padraig Tiernan who sent off three Pearses players and booked at least eight more players on the day.
Indeed there was a major controversy in the middle of the second half when the game was held up after a black card was shown to Lorcan Daly. Pearses put on a sub (Alan Duffy) but Boyle alleged that Daly was already booked (Pearses didn’t agree) and should have been shown a red after the black, and that no sub should have been allowed. Eventually referee Tiernan ushered Duffy off the field. I have never seen that happen in any match before and it added to the chaos and the tension.
However, the bottom line is that Pearses held on to beat Boyle with twelve men, and they deserved to do so as well. They were the better team on the balance of play and now they are in with a great chance of winning their first ever title when they play Roscommon Gaels in the final.
The exchanges were lively from the opening whistle, and while Boyle had plenty of possession, Pearses were more dangerous going forward. It was 0-3 to 0-1 for Pat Flanagan’s men after the first quarter with Paul Carey kicking the pick of the scores in the 14th minute.
After both sides has missed goal chances (Hubert Darcy for Pearses and Dylan East for Boyle), Ronan Daly scored a fine goal in the 19th minute. After another fine point from Carey, Pearses cut through the Boyle defence in the 25th minute, Darcy, sub Tom Butler and Ronan Daly were all involved before Butler fisted home. It was a great move and a fine team goal.
Pearses were the better team but they were accumulating yellow cards at an alarming rate, (some of the very soft variety) and it was bound to cause a problem later in the game, and so it transpired. Boyle were actually not playing that badly. Tadgh McKenna, Seanie Purcell, Donie Smith and Cian McKeon were all doing well but they were not getting on the scoresheet often enough.
Then in injury-time at the end of the first half Davy Murray was deemed to have committed a second yellow card offence and was shown red. A Donie Smith point from the resultant free left the score Pearses 2-5 Boyle 0-5 at the break.
The second half was frantic, fractious, and dramatic. In the 39th minute Tom Butler’s shot came back off a post, but Ronan Daly was on hand to fist home Pearses’ third goal. However almost immediately Boyle were back in the contest when Tadgh McKenna did the hard work, and Mark O’Connor bundled the ball over the line.
Sub Butler pointed from play in the 44th minute before Lorcan Daly saw black and it was from then on that there was non-stop controversy. When the game finally resumed following the black card rigmarole Pearses found themselves down to 13 men. Donie Smith pointed a free but Niall Daly (who was outstanding) answered that point with an excellent score from 30 metres. The sides were trading point for point, but Pearses remained six ahead. As the game entered injury-time Pearses led by 3-10 to 1-10, but Conor Daly was the latest Pearses player to be shown red for another second yellow offence.
The final seven minutes saw the play restricted to a small area inside the Pearses 45-metre line as Boyle desperately tried to retrieve the situation against Pearses’ 12 ‘apostles’. In fairness to Done Smith, he did everything he could. He pointed two frees, and another from play and, added to a point from sub Gareth Gilmartin, they whittled the lead down to two. But Pearses were determined to hang on for dear life and after almost nine minutes of injury-time the siege was over.
Despite all the controversy, Pearses were the best team on the day and deserved their win. However they will have to watch their discipline as they will need all their best players on the field for the full match in the final.
Niall Daly was once against outstanding and he was well supported on the day by Ronan Daly, Paul Carey, Hubert Darcy, Conor Payne and sub Tom Butler. For a gallant Boyle, Tadgh McKenna and Seanie Purcell gave it everything in defence while Donie Smith and Cian McKeon tried everything they could in attack. It was not Enda Smith’s day. There were reports that he was ill and that may have affected his performance on the day. They needed him at full tilt but it was no to be.
One more hurdle for Pearses to jump to re-write the history books. In their way are Roscommon Gaels. The best two teams in the championship are in the final now.
Pádraig Pearses: Paul Whelan; Shane Carty, Anthony Butler, Mark Richardson; Gavin Downey, David Murray, Ronan Daly (1-2); Niall Carty, Conor Daly (0-2); Paul Carey (0-2), Lorcan Daly, Niall Daly (0-1); Emmett Kelly (0-1), Hubert Darcy (1-1), Conor Payne. Subs: Tom Butler for Kelly (19), Shane Mulvey for Downey (61), Sean Ryan and Alan Duffy for Butler and Payne (67)
Boyle: Robert Kearney; Killian Cox, Conor Flanagan, Michael Hanmore; Evan McGrath, Sean Purcell, Tadgh McKenna; Enda Smith, Kieran Cox (0-1); Dylan East, Cian McKeon (0-5, 2 frees), Jim Suffin; Donie Smith (0-7, 6 frees), Mark O’Connor (1-0), Mark O’Donoghue. Subs: Roch Hanmore for ODonoghue (21), Seamus Keane for Kieran Cox (43), Gareth Gilmartin for Suffin (54), Colin Goldrick for O’Connor (60).
Referee: Padraig Tiernan