Daly stars as Pearses set up Brigid’s date

Hodson Bay Hotel Roscommon SFC Semi-Final: Pádraig Pearses 0-13 Western Gaels 0-10

Three points in injury-time saw Pádraig Pearses finally shake off the challenge of Western Gaels to qualify for their second county senior football final in a row in this hard fought, but low-key semi-final played before a big crowd in Elphin last Sunday.

  Having played with the strong wind in the opening half, Western Gaels looked to be in trouble when they went in a half-time only level at 0-6 each.

  But they took the fight to Pearses in a very competitive second half and it took late strikes from Ronan Daly (free), Niall Daly, and Hubert Darcy (free) for the men from Taughmaconnell and Moore to edge their way into another final.

  Played on a sunny but breezy day, and on a fine pitch, the sides were locked together for most of the first half. Pearses led by 0-4 to 0-2 after 18 minutes with Hubert Darcy scoring three points (2 frees) and Aaron Fehily (free) on target for Shane Curran’s men while Niall Higgins (free) and a booming effort from Kevin Higgins were the Western Gaels scores.

  Conor Daly and big brother Niall were playing really well for Pearses as they prospered against the strong wind. Indeed Pearses led 0-5 to 0-3 after 22 minutes but Western Gaels came more into the game before half-time. Points from John Duffy (a fine long-range effort) and a Niall Higgins free saw them level by the 26th minute. A minute before the break Conor Payne scored a great point for Pearses after some great interplay and passing. But not to be outdone, Cathal Cregg scored a superb point in first half injury-time after a great run from Seanie McDermott, and at half-time the sides were level at 0-6 apiece.

  Pearses looked to be in control when they kicked three unanswered points on the resumption with Niall Daly, Ronan Daly and Aaron Fehily (free) on target by the 36th minute. But Western Gaels dug in and made a real battle out of it. Ciaran Cafferky (a brilliant effort) and a Niall Higgins free saw them back to within a point by the 40th minute and it was a real dogged contest after that.

  Aaron Fehily edged Pearses further ahead in the 44th minute with a close-range free, but two great points from play from Ciaran Cafferky and Cathal Cregg saw the sides level by the 52nd minute.

  The exchanges were now tetchy as the winning post came into view. Western Gaels sub Stephen Ryan was shown a straight red card by referee Paddy Neilan in the 57th minute as the tensions rose. Seven minutes of injury-time was announced and it was Pearses who came good. Ronan Daly landed a 45-metre free in the 62nd minute and two minutes later Niall Daly pointed on the run from 30 metres and when young star Hubert Darcy pointed a 35 metre free in the 5th minute of added time, Pearses had done enough to see off the Gaels’ challenge.

  It was a good win for Pearses but they will not need me to tell them that they will need a huge improvement if they want to successfully challenge St. Brigid’s in the county final in a couple of weeks’ time.

  They were well served on Sunday by Davy Murray, who had a great second half, Ronan Daly, Niall Carthy, Niall Daly, Aaron Fehily, Hubert Darcy and Conor Payne, but the star for Pearses was Conor Daly who covered acres of ground. His industry, clever use of the ball and unselfish play was very instrumental in this Pearses win.

  It was another frustrating day for Western Gaels. Their ‘big guns’ didn’t really perform all through the game and they will be disappointed to have lost out at the death. Michael Higgins, Donie Ward. Ciaran Cafferky, Seanie McDermott (second half) and Cathal Cregg were prominent but it is another case of ’what might have been’ for Gerard Nolan’s side.

Pádraig Pearses: Adam McManus; David Murray, Anthony Butler, Mark Richardson; Conor Daly, Niall Carthy, Cathal Óg Sullivan; Niall Daly (0-2), Tom Butler; Shane Carthy, Aaron Fehily (0-4, all frees), Shane Dolan; Hubert Darcy (0-4, 3 frees), Ronan Daly (0-2, 1 free), Conor Payne (0-1). Subs: Emmett Kenny for S Carthy (black card 14), Eamon Donoghue for Fehily (53), Daniel Glynn for E Kelly (56).

Western Gaels: Padraig Cummins: Sean Conry, Michael Higgins, Seanie McDermott; Barry Creighton, Donal Ward, Ciaran Cafferky (0-2); Niall Murray, John Duffy (0-1); James McDonnell, Niall Higgins (0-3, all frees), Kevin Higgins (0-2); Finbarr Cregg, Derek Moran, Cathal Cregg (0-2). Subs: Stephen Ryan for Murray (h/t), Aidan Dowd for N Higgins (57). Referee: Paddy Neilan