Classy Clifden conquer Connacht!

Gallant St Ronan’s overpowered at the Hyde

AIB Connacht Junior Football Championship Final:
Clifden 1-16 St Ronan’s 0-10 

Pic: Bernie O’Farrell

A strong Clifden side overcame St. Ronan’s with relative ease in this Connacht JFC final at Dr. Hyde Park on Saturday afternoon. It was a disappointing season finale for the North Roscommon men who were hoping to win their first ever Connacht Junior Football title. Despite a gallant effort, they were well beaten on the day.

After Emmet Moran opened the scoring for Clifden, Gary O’Daly settled any early nerves for the Ronan’s men by firing over a score after Jason Glynn won possession in midfield with a fine catch. Daly was being kept under close surveillance by the Clifden full-back line as they doubled up on him. Indeed Daly was the only man inside for long periods of the opening half, with Ronan’s deploying 14 men behind the ball to try to curtail the Clifden attack.

The Galway side remained patient, bidding to play the match on their own terms. Full-forward John O’Brien scored the next two points. John Keavney converted a free for St. Ronan’s, but their opponents then moved up a gear. Henry O’Toole found Enda Conneely with a high ball in the 13th minute, the latter making no mistake and scoring the game’s only goal. It put Clifden five points clear.

Pic: Bernie O’Farrell

Sean Black and Ger Gibbons added to that lead, and St. Ronan’s were now struggling to stay in touch. To their credit, they steadied the ship through another Gary O’Daly point, this time from a mark. Gibbons and Keavney exchanged frees before the interval to leave the away side with a very healthy 1-9 to 0-4 lead.

St. Ronan’s emerged for the second half looking to get a foothold in this game. Wing-back Liam Killoran opened the second-half scoring before a sublime score from Alan Benson gave the Roscommon team much-needed confidence. However, Clifden responded through substitute Ruairi King who made an instant impact with a 37th minute score. Ger Gibbons got in on the scoring act when he added two frees along with a long-range point from play. He and Henry O’Toole were causing the St. Ronan’s defence untold damage.

Alan Benson got his second point of the day, a score which was followed by another free from the boot of John Keavney. Ruairi King doubled his tally with another well-taken point with just five minutes remaining. John Keavney continued his successful day on free-taking duties, adding two more late on.

It was a case of too little too late for St. Ronan’s. Clifden claimed their first Connacht Junior Football title at the third time of asking, after losing in the finals of 2006 and 2015. Their supporters had been treated to a brilliant display in Dr. Hyde Park. St Ronan’s had given it everything, and can look back on their season with a sense of considerable pride and satisfaction.

St. Ronan’s: R. Gallagher; M. McNama, E. Flynn, F. Guihen; L. Killoran (0-1), E. Noone, T. Guihen; J. Glynn, T. McManus; M. Healy, J. Keavney (0-5, all frees), K. Healy;  R. Kelly, A. Benson (0-2), G. O’Daly (0-2, 1 mark). Subs: B. McNama for Healy (HT), D. McTiernan for T. Guihen (43’), J. Earley for Kelly (44’), C. McLoughlin for Killoran (52’), M. Gaffney for F. Guihen (54’).

Clifden: I. Staunton; G. King, S. Sweeney (0-1, 45’), N. Murray; S. Black (0-1), J. Mannion, C. Connolly; C. Joyce (0-1), M. O’Toole; C. Coneys, G. Gibbons (0-6, 4 frees), H. O’Toole; E. Conneely (1-1), J. O’Brien (0-2), E. Moran (0-1). Subs: R. King (0-2) for Connolly (37’), C. O’Donnell (0-1, free) for O’Brien (50’), P. Cullen for E. Moran (54’).

Referee: J. Glavey.