Hodson Bay Hotel SFC Semi-Final
Clann na nGael 0-14 Roscommon Gaels 0-10
Clann na nGael will take their place against Pádraig Pearses in this year’s county senior football final, but they were made fight all the way by a resolute and gritty Roscommon Gaels team who were in this game right up to the final couple of minutes.
In the final analysis, Clann were marginally the better team, although the Gaels weren’t that far from causing a major upset. In Ciaran Lennon, Clann had the best player on the field and a forward that could always engineer a score. As for the Gaels, they will look back on a number of missed opportunities throughout the game, and while it will be no consolation to them this week, they gave Clann plenty to think about in a contest that was always ultra-competitive and absorbing.
It was clear from the opening exchanges that this was going to be a good battle, the Gaels making a mockery of pre-match odds of 7/2 as they competed fiercely for every ball and played some really intelligent football throughout.
The town team tackled in packs and frequently closed down the Clann threat. Clann, however, were patient and prepared to wait until their dangermen, and Ciaran Lennon in particular, could get on the ball.
All year the Gaels have struggled to put up imposing scoring totals, but the return of Peter Gillooly from injury boosted the town team in the attacking sector. With Mark Healy once again effective at full-forward, they were always a threat.
The sides were level on no fewer than six occasions in a hard-fought opening half. Shane Pettit, Paddy Gavin, Jack Connaughton, Ultan Harney and the classy Ciaran Lennon were always prominent for Clann. Paul Gleeson, John McManus, Kieran Kilcline, Mark Healy and Peter Gillooly were doing well for the Gaels.
The Gaels could have had a goal in the 24th minute when Mark Healy fisted Brian Kelly’s long ball over the bar. Points from Cian McManus and Ciaran Lennon then saw Clann go in at half-time leading by 0-8 to 0-6.
On a couple of occasions in the second half Clann threatened to pull away, but the Gaels refused to fold. A key score came on 46 minutes when Ciaran Lennon kicked a super point to put Clann three clear, 0-11 to 0-8.
In the 50th minute, Mark Purcell had a great goal chance for the Gaels but he blasted over from close range. When Brian Kelly pointed from a free two minutes later, there was only a point between the teams (0-11 to 0-10).
Just when it looked like a shock might be on the cards, Clann closed out the game in the final five minutes.
Ciaran Lennon pointed a free in the 55th minute and with a minute of normal time left, he kicked a superb point from play. Then in injury-time Ultan Harney got the ‘insurance score’, doing well to point when under pressure.
This may not have been as thrilling as Saturday’s semi-final, but it was always interesting and very well contested. The Gaels played their part, providing a searching test of Clann’s credentials.
Clann advanced as winners by a four-point margin, and will now prepare for another major battle when they meet their neighbours Pádraig Pearses in what should be a cracking final.