Gaels’ young guns hit their target
GAA London Toureen Mangan JFC
Tir Chonaill Gaels 2-07
St Anthonys 0-05
By Damian Dolan
An impressive second half display saw Tir Chonaill Gaels open their junior title quest with victory over St Anthonys are Ruislip on Sunday.
Beaten finalists last year, the Gaels’ all English-born side will be keen to make amends for their defeat to Cuchulainns, and on the evidence of their second period performance they proved that last year’s run to the final was no fluke.
As for St Anthonys, the Reading team have plenty of work to do if they are to have a say in the destination of this year’s title. Fancied by many to be in the shake up, Anthonys’ failure to register a single score from play will have been a concern.
On a baking hot afternoon at Ruislip, the first half produced plenty of effort but little quality. Mike McGrath’s free gave the Gaels’ the lead, only for Kieran Cunningham to level.
Former London back Noel Burke was doing an outstanding job of keeping Gaels’ dangerman Liam Gavigan in check, and as a consequence the Greenford side struggled to pose a threat in the final third.
Anthonys were equally finding it difficult to carve out shooting opportunities, and when they did they shot wide.
Twenty scoreless minutes passed before the deadlock was finally broken, and it came via a rare moment of quality in the first half. Patrick Flynn’s intelligent run was the catalyst with Ryan Kearney and Gavigan teeing up Kieran Cunningham to beat Kris McQuillan. That goal was all that separated the sides at the break.
Sean O’Connor landed an early second half free, but the Gaels were beginning to find a supply line to Gavigan. Tommy Moriarty and Gavigan (free) pointed, but Burke burst forward to set up an attack that led to a foul on David Casey and McGrath did the rest.
Gavigan fired over before the Gaels delivered the decisive blow mid-way through the second half as McQuillan could only parry a difficult ball dropping under his own crossbar from Patrick Flynn, and Ryan Kearney, following up, bundled it over the line. Anthonys appealed for a foul on their keeper, but referee Rob Whelan had no doubts and awarded the goal and the Gaels led by seven.
McGrath replied instantly with another free, courtesy of a beautiful strike with the outside of his right boot, but the Gaels were now oozing confidence and firmly in control, and Ryan Fortune hit back after John Flynn had intercepted.
A lovely flowing move involving Moriarty and John Flynn then ended with Kearney firing over and the margin was up to eight. It encapsulated an impressive second half performance from the Gaels’ young team.
Tir Chonaill Gaels: Eoin Higgins; Cormac McGarvey, Kevin McFadden, Gerard Geraghty; Ollie Hayes, Ryan Elliott, Steven Ruddy; Liam Cunningham, Patrick Flynn; Ryan Kearney (1-1), Tommy Moriarty (0-1), Aidan McGarvey; Kieran Cunningham (1-1), Liam Gavigan (0-3, 2f), John Flynn. Subs: Ryan Fortune (0-1) for Kieran Cunningham, Steffan Carr for Kearney.
St Anthonys: Kris McQuillan; Darren Healy, Noel Burke, Mark Keogh; Paul McPhilips, John Reilly, Darragh McMahon; Phil McCabe, Marty Ward; Sean O’Connor (0-1f), Michael McGrath (0-4f), Martin McNamara; Brian McMahon, Paddy Finnegan, Shane Doherty. Subs: David Casey for McPhilips, Mikey Pyne for McNamara, Declan Moran for Finnegan.