AIB Connacht Club Intermediate HC Quarter-Final
Tooreen (Mayo) 0-17
Facing the Connacht champions was never going to be an easy task for the newly crowned Roscommon kingpins and so it proved in Athleague last Sunday when Seamus Qualter’s men ran out of steam in the second half against a Shane Boland-inspired Tooreen.
The first half was a very competitive affair during which Athleague more than matched their opponents. Tooreen were much better on the restart, but still, with six minutes to go in the match, Athleague had the margin down to just a single point after sub Cian Murray’s goal, and a pointed free from Eamon Flanagan.
However, the Mayo men pulled away again for a deserved win. They shot an incredible total of 20 wides, which indicated their edge in terms of possession and the creation of scoring chances. However their profligacy in front of the posts could have cost them dearly on another day
On a perfect afternoon for hurling, the fare wasn’t high quality and early on it was a battle between the free-takers, Shane Boland of Tooreen and Eamon Flanagan of Athleague. The home side led by 0-6 to 0-3 after 19 minutes with Flanagan accurate with the placed ball and David Flaherty and Ben McGahon scoring well-taken points from play.
But by half-time the scores were level at 0-7 each with Shane Boland (2) and Sean Kenny (2) on target for Tooreen with frees. Indeed Athleague should have been a point up going into the break as a free from Eamon Flanagan late in the half that clearly went over the bar, was flagged wide by the officials much to the annoyance of Athleague players and mentors.
Having said that, the Mayo men were much better after the break and they put Athleague under far more pressure. By the 49th minute they were 0-13 to 0-8 ahead with Boland scoring four points in a row (3 frees) and Brian Morley also on target.
But then in the 52nd minute, against the run of play, Athleague fashioned a goal that brought them back into the match. Aengus Lyons (who had a fine game) made the hard yards with a great run and sub Cian Murray flicked the ball to the net. Then, when Flanagan was on target with a free two minutes later there was only a point in it 0-13 to 1-9.
But Tooreen didn’t panic, they got their ‘go to’ men Fergal Boland, Shane Boland and Sean Kenny on the ball, and they pulled away again. Shane Boland knocked over three great points from play in the final few minutes with his brother Fergal chipping in with another.
Indeed Athleague’s cause was not helped when their captain Niall Connolly was red carded in the 59th minute after an incident close to the stand sideline but at that stage Tooreen were well on top.
Best for Tooreen were the imperious Shane Boland, Fergal Boland, Michael Morley, Daniel Huane and Sean Kenny. For Athleague Aengus Lyons had a fine game and JP Murray, Gary Fallon, Eamon Flanagan and Ben McGahon did well.
After the game Athleague manager Seamus Qualter said that while he was disappointed with the result, he felt that his team had put up a good performance.
“The lads gave it everything out there and I’m happy with that. We decided after the county final we were going to give it a lash and that’s what we did. Some of the lads have been playing football (with Fuerty) and hurling every week for the past few months and tiredness may have been a factor. But is has been a great year for us overall and I want to wish Fuerty the best of luck in the replay next weekend,” he said.