Pearses’ first minor title since 2007

Connaughton Fuels Roscommon Minor Division One Football Championship Final
Padraig Pearses 1-10 Clann na nGael 1-7

 “That’s really sweet after last week. The club has been really down in the dumps this past couple of weeks. I thought it was gone again today but the one thing about this Pearses team is they don’t drop their heads.” Philip Donoghue could be forgiven for raw, breathless emotion after this enthralling game of football.

  Clann na nGael came to Ballyforan in search of three in a row, but were denied by this heroic Pearses outfit who were dogged and dominant in a fierce second half performance.

  It started brightly for Clann and it seemed like the recent heartbreak would continue for Pearses. Ian Naughton and Ciarán Lennon opened up a three-point gap for the Johnstown outfit before Daniel Glynn, Lorcan Daly and Darcy eventually responded for Donoghue’s men.

  In fact it could have been far worse for Pearses but for some good goal keeping from Kelvin Kelly to deny David Griffin from close range. This game was fiercely contested as you would expect but in the closing stages of the first half it was Clann who were getting the better of the exchanges. Conor Farrell and David McManus sent them in two points up at the break.

  Clann and Farrell in particular picked up where they left off at the very start of the second half as Pearses took time to get going. Ian Naughton pointed superbly to give Clann a four-point cushion four minutes in.

   If the outlook as well as the weather was gloomy for Pearses, then nobody told the men in red as they stormed back with scores from Darcy, Lorcan Daly, and Daniel Glynn, bringing them to within a point.

  Just as they were preparing to summit the mountain, Clann sent them tumbling back down as Calum O’Brien introduced himself with a well taken goal following good build-up from Paul McManus, Conor Farrell and Ciarán Lennon.

  The Pearses’ heartbreak had to end sometime, although at four points down it was hard to see light at the end of the tunnel. A Hubert Darcy free and a brilliant Karl Feehily score from a difficult angle provided hope heading into the closing stages.

  Then, in an ending that Hollywood scriptwriters would struggle to sell, a man called Payne brought an end to weeks of agony for Pearses. Having being subbed back on, Conor Payne collected the ball, swiveled and struck low. The ball rebounded off the upright and somehow eluded David Finneran in the Clann goal before nestling in the back of the net.

  What followed was an explosion of relief, joy and weeks of frustration as the Pearses’ support and panel erupted in celebration. There was still time for Darcy to put the gloss on the scoreboard with a free and a fine point from play, as Clann failed to respond.

  Moments later, Paul Fahy’s whistle sounded and this time it was Pearses who were celebrating their first minor title since 2007 and the stop of the rot.

Padraig Pearses: K Kelly; D Johnston, M Richardson, T Richardson; S Downey, J Curley, G Kelly; D Glynn (0-2), K Feehily (0-1); A Johnston, C Payne (1-0), C Reilly; J Donoghue, H Darcy (0-5, 4 frees), L Daly (0-2). Subs: D Reilly for J Donoghue, P Carey for C Payne, C Payne for A Johnston, E Galvin for A Johnston.

Clann na nGael: D Finneran; N Connaughton, S McManus, D Lennon; S Fallon, K Connaughton, D Kildea; D Duff, D McManus (0-1); C Farrell (0-2, 1 free), C Lennon (0-2, 1 free), S Henry; E O’Neill, D Griffin, I Naughton (0-2). Subs:  G Nicholson for S Fallon, C O’Brien (1-0) for D Griffin, P McManus for S Henry, M Hanley for I Naughton (black card).

Referee: P Fahy.

Man of the match

There were several big performances from both sets of players. Seán McManus in particular impressed for Clann na nGael with a battling performance.

  For Pearses, Kelvin Kelly kept them in it, while the Richardson and Reilly brothers were productive at opposite ends. Conor Payne wasn’t happy about being substituted in the first place but certainly made the most of his reintroduction.

  However, with points to keep the scoreboard ticking over, a cool head late on to finish the job the ability to drop deep in the second half in order to assist his teammates and rebounding from the Senior final, Hubert Darcy just edges it.