Western Gaels blow town team away

Hodson Bay Hotel Roscommon SFC Quarter-Final: Western Gaels 0-19 Roscommon Gaels 2-5

Western Gaels produced a top class second half performance to power their way into a semi-final clash with Pádraig Pearses in this well-contested quarter-final played at Enfield, Ballintubber last Saturday evening. Having played against the strong wind in the opening half, Western Gaels went in at half-time in a good position only one point behind (1-4 to 0-6). They won the second half by 0-13 to 1-1 and won pulling up in the end.

  Both sides lined out minus influential players. Donal Ward was out through suspension for Western Gaels while Enda Lannon and Paul Gleeson joined long-term absentees Mark Healy, Mark Nally and Scott Oates on the sidelines for the town side. Western Gaels were able to cope much better in terms of their panel and they were the stronger side for most of the game.

  On a cold, breezy evening the sides shared four points in the first nine minutes with Cian Connolly pointing two frees for Roscommon Gaels and Ciaran Cafferky and Niall Higgins pointing for Western Gaels. Then Western Gaels hit a mini purple patch with points from Niall Higgins and a fine effort from Cathal Cregg on the run.

   With the backing of the strong wind, Roscommon Gaels needed to get scores on the board and with David O’Gara driving them on from centre half-back, they came storming back into the game after that. Young Richard Hughes kicked a mighty point from 25 metres under pressure in the 19th minute and then a minute later a superb five man move saw David O’Gara’s goalbound shot saved by Pádraig Cummins. A minute later Cian Connolly kicked a superb point to tie up the scores, and in the 23rd minute Roscommon Gaels struck for the only goal of the game. Cian Connolly and Ronan Gleeson combined to set up Kieran Kilcline who blasted the ball to the Western Gaels net and now the town side led by 1-4 to 0-4.

  But incredibly that was to be Roscommon Gaels last score for 27 minutes of play as Western Gaels took over completely. Barry Creighton and Niall Higgins (free) pointed before half-time and there was only one in it at the break. Indeed Western Gaels wasted no time in overtaking that narrow Roscommon Gaels lead on the resumption.

 Cathal Cregg’s point after three minutes levelled the scores and with Barry Creighton and James McDonnell particularly impressive, Western Gaels pulled away. Points from Niall Higgins (free), Kevin Higgins, Barry Creighton and James McDonnell saw the gap at four by the 47th minute. Cian Connolly pointed a Roscommon Gaels free in the 50th minute and after Finbar Cregg pointed to restore that four-point lead it looked like normal service was resumed for Western Gaels. But with seven minutes to go the town side scored a fine goal against the run of play to reduce the margin to just one. Richard Hughes played a great pass into Cian Connolly, his shot cannoned off the crossbar but he netted the rebound off a defender.

  But Western Gaels closed out the victory in impressive fashion in the final few minutes. Points from James McDonnell (2), Barry Creighton, Finbar Cregg, Niall Higgins (2 frees) and sub Stephen Ryan saw them home by eight and Roscommon Gaels could have no complaints on the balance of play.

  For Western Gaels, goalkeeper Pádraig Cummins, Barry Creighton, Ciaran Cafferky, Cathal Cregg, Niall Murray and James McDonnell played very well on the day. The big question now is can Western Gaels repeat this type of performance against Pádraig Pearses in the semi-final? They certainly played well enough here to suggest that they are in with a real chance.

  For Roscommon Gaels, John McManus, Richard Hughes, David O’Gara, James McDermott and Cian Connolly were most prominent but it has been another very disappointing year for them and the loss of so many players through injury and emigration this year has cost them dearly.

Western Gaels: Pádraig Cummins; Sean Conry, Michael Higgins, Brian Cafferky; Barry Creighton (0-3), Seanie McDermott, Ciaran Cafferky (0-1); Niall Murray, John Duffy; Cathal Cregg (0-2), Niall Higgins (0-6, all frees), James McDonnell (0-3); Finbar Cregg (0-2, 1 free), Derek Moran, Kevin Higgins (0-1). Subs: Eamon Ryan for B Cafferky (17), Tommy Gill for N Higgins (53), Stephen Ryan (0-1) for Moran (57), Thomas Mahon for Niall Murray (58).

Roscommon Gaels: James Fetherston; Ryan Horan, John McManus, Liam McNeela; Kevin O’Gara, David O’Gara, Aidan Duignan; James McDermott, Kieran Kilcline (1-0); Brian Kelly, Ronan Gleeson, Ollie Hannon; Richard Hughes (0-1), Cian Connolly (1-4, 3 frees), John Nolan. Subs: Cillian Egan for Nolan (26), James O’Gara for Duignan (h/t), Brian O’Gara for Kelly (40), Johnny Conteh for J O’Gara (black card 45), Brian Cleary for R Gleeson (53). Referee: Paul Daly