Western Gaels win Kenny Cup

Leo Kenny Cup Final Western Gaels …………….. 0-13 Caslerea St Kevins ………. 0-11 Seamus Duke  When sporting achievements in 2008 in County Roscommon are recalled, this win by Western Gaels might not even make the top twenty, but I would have a big wager that the Western Gaels players and their manager John Donnellan are thrilled with this success. To have picked up a piece of silverware so close to the start of the senior championship will be a huge boost to them.   They deserved to win this Leo Kenny Cup Final too. Castlerea were always in touch but they can thank Geoffrey Claffey and Ger Heneghan for that. Claffey pulled off at least three top drawer saves in the first half and another in the second half while Heneghan turned in a super display from frees and play and scored 0-8 of the Castlerea total. However Western Gaels were the stronger team throughout and they will be wondering why this final was in the balance right up to the final whistle.    The Pearse Stadium pitch was in perfect shape for the game. It started with only a couple of hundred people present and Western Gaels drove at Castlerea from the very first minute. Kevin Higgins lofted over a lovely point within 50 seconds and four minutes later Derek Moran added another point. Ger Heneghan opened Castlerea’s account after 7 minutes with a free and in the 9th minute Claffey made the first of three brilliant saves when he denied Mark Drury a certain Gaels goal.   After 11 minutes Moran made it 3-1 to the Gaels but a minute later Heneghan reduced the arrears with another pointed free. In the 14th minute the Gaels were through for another goal but Chris Collins’ piledriver was pushed over the bar by the brilliant Claffey. The Gaels were now dominating and points from Tommy Gill and two from Mark Drury left them 7-2 ahead after 17 minutes.   But with Claffey’s heroics at one end and Ger Heneghan missing nothing at the other, Castlerea came back into contention before half-time. Heneghan and Cathal Cregg exchanged points before Heneghan kicked three points in a row (two from play) to leave only two in it at half-time. Western Gaels 0-8 Castlerea 0-6.   The second half was a far more competitive affair as Castlerea brought Nigel Dineen to midfield and after that it was well-contested, but the Gaels could always keep their noses in front. Derek Moran scored a Gaels point after a minute but Seamus Heneghan replied for Castlerea. Moran and Heneghan (Ger) exchanged points and when another Chris Collins attempt at goal was repelled by Claffey it was 11-8 to the Gaels at the three-quarter stage. But Castlerea were sticking to The Gaels well, and with Dineen and Kenny winning more possession at midfield, the game very much remained a contest.    Dermot Lyons and Donal Ward (a ’45) exchanged points and it was 12-9 by the 22nd minute of the second half. But Castlerea were improving as the final whistle approached and Ger Heneghan and Nigel Dineen points in the 24th and 27th minutes left only one point in it with three minutes to go.   The Gaels needed inspiration from somewhere and they found it when sub James McDonnell kicked the point of the game from out near the sideline in the 31st minute to settle the issue. The Gaels had survived and they deserved to win the game on overall play. With the championship approaching it was a valuable win for them. Castlerea will be disappointed but it was good match practice for them as the championship tests come up over the next few weeks.   Western Gaels were best served on the day by Seanie McDermott, Eamonn Ryan, Kevin Higgins, Derek Moran, Cathal Cregg and sub Adrian Dockery. Castlerea’s best players on the day were the aforementioned Claffey and Heneghan and they were well supported by Nigel Dineen (second half), Enda Kenny and Michael Kilillea.   The Leo Kenny Cup was presented after the game to Gerard Nolan, the captain of the Western Gaels team, by the President of the Connacht Council Lauiri Quinn. The Frenchpark club’s win continues the good record of Roscommon clubs in this competition in recent years. Western Gaels: Padraig Cummins; Adrian Freyne, Dermot McGarry, Seanie McDermott; Donal Ward (0-1), Eamonn Ryan, David Ryan; David Jordan, Kevin Higgins (0-1); Derek Moran (0-4), Tommy Gill (0-1), Chris Collins (0-2); Mark Drury (0-2), Gerard Nolan, Cathal Cregg (0-1). Subs: Adrian Dockery for Gill, John Nolan for McGarry, James McDonnell (0-1) for John Nolan. Castlerea St. Kevins: Geoffrey Claffey; Barry Egan, Daire Silke, Eddie Creaton; David Flahive, Declan Murphy, Declan Creaton; Enda Kenny, Micheal Kilillea; Sean Ryan, Cathal Dineen, Seamus Heneghan (0-1); Ronan Curran, Nigel Dineen (0-1), Ger Heneghan (0-8). Subs: Padraig Duignan for Silke, Dermot Lyons (0-1) for Ryan, Martin Raftery for Egan, Michael Finneran for Curran. Referee: Michael Duffy (Sligo).