SFC semi-final: Tir Chonaill Gaels 2-17 St Kiernans 0-5
By Tony Tighe
Things are shaping up quite nicely around Greenford. An 18-point in a championship semi-final is always gratefully accepted, even more so when you achieve it without hitting full pelt.
After two years in the wilderness, Tir Chonaill Gaels are back in the hunt for championship honours. St Kiernans proved no match for the record 13-time winners last Saturday, unable to cope with the Gaels’ pace and array of attacking options, while their own set of forwards failed to fire.
It was pretty ruthless stuff from TCG. They had the game in the bag early in the second half, yet their hunger never waned. The scores continued to flow as substitutes came off the bench with a point to prove, and their rearguard restricted Kiernans to just three points from play.
It was impressive but TCG know they won’t be afforded as much space against Kingdom Kerry Gaels, who gave a strong defensive display in their last-gasp win over Parnells. St Kiernans were without forward Adrian Moyles, while Kevin O’Leary – another key cog - didn’t look fully fit and was forced off in the second half. Their overall performance was very poor, one you didn’t expect from the men in black, who have now lost three consecutive championship semi-finals since returning to the senior ranks.
TCG had outstanding performers all over the pitch. Caolan Doyle and Mark Gottsche bossed midfield, their half-back line cut Kiernans’ supply to their inside forward line, while John McNicholas excelled at winning breaking ball and linking up with his full-forwards, who had a field day.
Eoin O’Neill hit 1-4 without overly exerting himself, with Kevin McMenamin contributing 1-1 while also showing some superb vision with a number of eye-catching passes.
TCG played against the wind in the first half yet still led 1-8 to 0-3 at the interval. Their start was sloppy, conceding too many frees, and it took a fine block by Eamonn McConville to deny opposite number Brian Osbourne a pot at goal.
But that was as good as it got for Kiernans, who were blown away by a blistering seven-minute spell at the end of the half. TCG hit 1-3 during that period, McMenamin netting at the second attempt on 28 minutes as John Gallagher’s stunning block went unrewarded.
Up by eight points at the change of ends, it didn’t take TCG long to extend their lead into double digits. By the midway point of the second half they were rampant, with McMenamin prominent as scores flowed rapidly.
The second maximum arrived six minutes from time following some patient build-up. Having worked the ball across the pitch, Mark McConville then lofted the ball into the area, where O’Neill produced a great finish to add the finishing touch to the rout.
A miserable day for Kiernans was complete when Thomas Waters picked up a second yellow card in the final minute for a cynical foul on Eoin Mageean. Tir Chonaill Gaels march on, and it will take something special from the Kingdom to stop them.
Scorers – Tir Chonaill Gaels: E O’Neill 1-4 (2f), J McGrath 0-5 (1f, 1 ’45), K McMenamin 1-1, M Gottsche 0-3 (1f, 1 ’45), J McNicholas 0-2, C Boyle, B Mitchell 0-1 each.
St Kiernans: M Callery (2f), D Ryan 0-2 each, J O’Connor 0-1.
Tir Chonaill Gaels – B McBrearty; T Gribben, P Callaghan, B Collins; E McConville, M McConville, P Sherry; M Gottsche, C Doyle; J McNicholas, J McGrath, B Mitchell; B Reilly, E O’Neill, K McMenamin.
Subs: C Boyle for Reilly (ht), M McCoy for Sherry (55), A Concannon for Gottsche (57), N McClafferty for Mitchell (52), E Mageean for McMenamin (58).
St Kiernans – B Mulrooney; J Callery, J Gallagher, K O’Leary; B Osbourne, C Byrne, S Curran; D Ryan, P Finn; L Russell, T Waters, M Mulholland; M Callery, J Egan, J O’Connor.
Subs: L O’Neill for Russell (ht), M O’Donoghue for O’Connor (38), R Scullion for O’Leary (47), B O’Mahony for Byrne (53), P Morgan for Egan (56).
REF – M Maher