Late show seals thriller in favour of St. Faithleach’s

Game of the Weekend

Hodson Bay Hotel Roscommon SFC (Group C)
St. Faithleach’s 1-15 Western Gaels 1-13

Sometimes the ‘Game of the Weekend’ does not live up to its billing. That certainly wasn’t the case last weekend as the outcome of this ‘winner take all’ contest in Strokestown was in doubt until Dermot Lyons blew the final whistle eight minutes into injury-time.

It was a thriller from pillar to post and especially in the second half as these two proud clubs battled tooth and nail to secure the win that would keep them in the championship. Indeed when Western Gaels look back at the match this week they will know that a gilt-edged goal chance, driven wide by Cathal Cregg (who had a super match) in the 59th minute – when they were a point up – would prove absolutely crucial. After that miss Faithleach’s went downfield and Diarmuid Murtagh (2) and Dave Rooney pointed in injury-time to give the Ballyleague men a dramatic victory.

On a perfect day for football, there was never much between the sides. They were level on five different occasions in the first half and with Finbar Cregg and Ciarain Murtagh deadly accurate from frees, Western Gaels went into the break leading by two points, 0-9 to 0-7.

The second half was ultra-competitive and great to watch for the neutrals. Inside the first minute Mikey Dunne’s long ball was flicked to the net by Diarmuid Murtagh and further points from Dave Rooney and a Ciarain Murtagh free opened up a three-point gap in favour of St. Faithleach’s.

Every time the Gaels looked down and out they responded brilliantly. In the 38th minute Luke Hester blasted home a great goal after a peach of a pass from James McDonnell. The sides traded points for the rest of the second half and they were level five times after that Hester goal.

Cathal Cregg was on fire for Western Gaels while Connell Kennelly was the star man for Faithleach’s. Seanie McDermott was doing a good marking job on Diarmuid Murtagh and the tension rose even further as the winning post came into view.

Western Gaels edged in front in the 58th minute when Finbar Cregg raced through and fisted over. Then in the final minute of normal time, a brilliant team move saw Cathal Cregg in the clear – but his piledriver flew the wrong side of the post and Faithleach’s were still alive.

Then in injury-time, Diarmuid Murtagh, who had been subdued for most of the match, pointed a 30-metre free to equalise, before the same player lofted over a super point from 40 metres out to edge his side ahead. Then in the 8th minute of injury-time Dave Rooney sealed the win with an excellent score.

So, after an almighty scare, Faithleach’s progress. Adrian Murtagh, Darren Nerney, Connell Kennelly, Dave Rooney, Brian Murtagh, Mikey Dunne and Ciaran Murtagh were outstanding for the winners.

For a gallant Western Gaels, Seanie McDermott James McDonnell, Finbar Cregg and James McDonnell played well, while Cathal Cregg was their leading light, the former county star rolling back the years with a superb display which included three excellent points from play. However, he will have to lead his team through a relegation play-off now.

St Faithleach’s: Michael O’Donnell; Karl Nerney, Mikey Cox, Adrian Murtagh; Paddy Farrell, Darren Nerney, Cian Glennon; Connell Kennelly (0-2), Dave Rooney (0-2); Brian Murtagh (0-2), Ciarain Murtagh (0-4, 2 frees), Mikey Dunne; Diarmuid Murtagh (1-3, 2 frees), Jonathan Hussey (0-2), James Browne. Subs: Cathal Gunn for A Murtagh (44), Lee Kilcoyne for J Hussey (53).

Western Gaels: Adrian Hardiman; Tommy Devine, Seanie McDermott, Brian Cafferky; Conor Sampey, Cathal Cregg (0-3), Tommy Gill; Barry Creighton, Ciaran Cafferky; James McDonnell, Jack Higgins (0-2, frees), Kevin Higgins (0-1); Luke Hester (1-0), Finbar Cregg (0-7, 5 frees), Oran Hester. Subs: Rory Hester for L Hester (h/t), Alan Beirne for B Cafferky (56), Aidan Dowd for Sampey (59).

Referee: Dermot Lyons.

Man of the Match

Connell Kennelly (St. Faithleach’s)