Clifden’s goals make the difference

Connacht Club Junior Football Championship Semi-Final
Clifden 2-9 Shannon Gaels 0-9

Goals either side of half-time were the difference as Galway junior champions Clifden overcame the challenge of Shannon Gaels in this semi-final played in perfect weather conditions at Dr Hyde Park last Sunday. Shannon Gaels battled hard and never gave up but they could never recover from those two hammer blows and in the end Clifden probably deserved their place in the Connacht final.

  The opening half was evenly contested, the sides looked well matched and we were looking forward to a close contest. Shannon Gaels got off to a good start with points from Ciaran Lynch and Matthew McDermott (free) in the first ten minutes. But Clifden came into the game after that and they scored four points without reply by the 20th minute. The impressive Gerard Gibbins (2, 1 free), Conal Joyce and Fechin Mitchell were all on target.

  Shannon Gaels came back to level the scores with two Conor Lavin frees and they were in a good position coming up to half-time. However, a minute before the break disaster struck when the elusive Gerard Gibbons cut through the Gaels defence and fired home to leave the Galway champions ahead 1-4 to 0-4 at the break.

   Worse was to follow on the resumption. In the 34th minute, Fechin Mitchell was through on goal and his weak shot was fielded by Shannon Gaels goalkeeper Cathal Sweeney but he had stepped over the line and the umpires had no hesitation in awarding Clifden a goal, and now the margin was six. It was a gap that Shannon Gaels were not able to bridge subsequently. However, they did play some lovely football between that second goal and the end of the game.

   But every time that Shannon Gaels got a couple of scores Clifden were able to respond and they were able to keep the Roscommon champions at arms length. Matthew Burke and Fintan Sweeney kicked two fine points to narrow the game to four by the 48th minute but corner forwards Gerard Gibbons and Fechin Mitchell were always a threat and they landed three more points to copper fasten a good win for the visitors.

  Shannon Gaels were hit by injury on the day, Matty Mulvey and Michael Murtagh were not able to start and they lost the influential Ciaran Lynch just after half-time which certainly didn’t help their cause. They battled hard right to the final whistle but those two goals proved to be the killer blows on the day. Clifden now play Mayo champions Ardnaree in the final.

Clifden:  Niall Black: Marty Coneely, John Mannion, Colin Connolly; Gearoid King, Mike O’Toole, Henry O’Toole; Conal Joyce (0-1), Chris Holmes; Peter Cullen, Emmet Moran (0-1), Damien Joyce (0-1); Fechin Mitchell (1-4, 2 frees), Eamon McCann, Gerard Gibbins (1-2, 1 free). Subs: Conor Nee for Cullen (43), Gerry Gannon for McCann (46), Darren Little for Mannion (60).

Shannon Gaels: Cathal Sweeney; Damien Horan, Niall Lynch, Shane McDonnell; Cian Harmon, Niall Leyden, Shane O’Dowd (0-1); Noel McDermott, Fergal Finnerty; Matthew Bourke (0-2), Ciaran Lynch (0-1), Fintan Sweeney (0-2); Matthew McDermott (0-1, free), Conor Layden (0-2, frees), Kenneth Lynch. Subs: Luke O’Dowd for K Lynch (h-t), James Filan for C Lynch (36).

Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo)


Man of the Match: Gerard Gibbons (Clifden)

On the Shannon Gaels side, Damien Horan, Shane O’Dowd, Ciaran Lynch, Matthew Bourke and Conor Layden all played well.

  The winners were best served by John Mannion, Henry O’Toole, Emmet Moran and Damien Joyce but the two best players on the field were corner forwards Fechin Mitchell and Gerard Gibbons who scored 2-6 between them. However, Gibbons gets the nod after a very impressive display all through.


Connacht Club Junior Football Championship Semi-Final