Gaels end wait for big day out


Hodson Bay Hotel Roscommon SFC         Semi-Final: Roscommon Gaels 0-16 Boyle 0-10

Roscommon Gaels were the deserved winners of this semi-final played in blustery conditions at Dr Hyde Park last Sunday and as a result they bridge a 13-year gap since last they reached the final. Playing against the strong wind in the opening half, the Gaels more than held their own and once they managed to go in level at 0-7 each it was looking good for them to pull away with the aid of the elements in the second period, and so it proved.

  While not being overly impressive, Liam McNeill’s team had some great performances throughout the team and therein lay the key to their success. Star of the show was David O’Gara who controlled the game from midfield. He never put a foot wrong all day and scored three superb points midway through the second half that saw the Gaels pull away from Boyle.

  Not far behind in terms of effort and determination was Scott Oates who never stopped running and supporting his teammates all over the field. Liam McNeela, James O’Gara and John McManus were very solid in defence, James McDermott put in a huge shift at midfield, while up front, Ciaran Kilcline, Cian Connolly and Mark Nally were hugely effective. Also deserving of a mention is goalkeeper James Fetherstone whose all-round display and accurate kicking was a feature of the Gaels’ performance.

  For Boyle, it was a disappointing day. They never really got going and they only played in fits and starts. Seanie Purcell actually did play despite club officials telling the media only ten minutes before the game that he was out. In fact, he was probably Boyle’s most effective player on the day while Tadgh McKenna also did well in defence.

  Boyle’s ‘big three’ of Enda and Donie Smith and Cian McKeon up front were well marshalled and despite some flashes of good football from all three, the Gaels had done their homework well.

   With O’Gara and McDermott dominating the midfield exchanges the Gaels’ attack saw plenty of the ball but they shot a few bad wides and will be hoping to be more clinical in the final and they will need to be.

  The Gaels are now in their first final in 13 years, which is a long time for a club of their status not to be challenging for the senior title. They had bowed out of the championship the last four years in a row at the knockout stage so this win has put that record to bed.

  Now they will face the challenge of St. Brigid’s in the final. The town team will not need me to tell them that Brigid’s will be very hard to beat but on the evidence of this semi-final, the Gaels are certainly not without hope.