GAA Connacht Gold Senior Championship Semi-Finals

Five things we learned from the Connacht Gold SFC Semi-Finals - GALLERY

John Connolly

Reporter:

John Connolly

We're nearly at the end of an exciting 2017 Connacht Gold Leitrim Senior Championship campaign and this week, we take a look back at two fascinating semi-finals.

Glencar/Manorhamilton and Mohill will battle for the Fenagh Cup on Sunday, October 8, in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada and we look back at some of the talking points from last Saturday's intriguing semi-finals, photos by Therese Foy.

And on Tuesday, we will take a look back at the Fox Monumentals Intermediate Championship Semi-Finals and check out www.leitrimobserver.ie for more updates and news ahead of the County Finals.

GLANCY STILL THE CONDUCTOR OF MANOR’S ORCHESTRA

There were a lot of reasons why Glencar/Manorhamilton defeated Ballinamore Sean O’Heslin’s last Saturday but a lot of them start with James Glancy. The veteran forward has been crucial in the victories of Aughawillan and Ballinamore and it was his incisive passes that cut open the Ballinamore defence for two goals in the first half last Saturday.

Ballinamore never got to grips with Glancy and he conducted the orchestra for Glencar/Manorhamilton - pulling the defence out of place and then finding his team-mates and creating opportunities. And it is the experience of Glancy, Thomas McDonald, Paddy Maguire and Pat Gilmartin that makes Glencar/Manorhamilton such a potent outfit.

SMALL MARGINS MAKE THE DIFFERENCE

We all know the Al Pacino speech from Any Given Sunday about inches and how the inches are all around you, you just have to grab them if you want to win. Was there any better example of this than Mohill’s match winning final point from Ronan Gordon?

To set the scene, St. Mary’s are a point down but have a sideline ball midway down the stand side in Pairc Sean. A short ball to an unmarked team-mate was the clever option and it was on but that didn’t take account of Alan McLoughlin arriving out of nowhere to knock the ball away, then off-load to a team-mate and one pass later, Ronan Gordon became the definition of a super-sub as he fired over the insurance point with his very first touch of the game!

And all from a sideline ball that looked for all intents and purposes a safe St. Mary’s ball. Small, small margins!

DISAPPOINTED BALLINAMORE FAIL TO FIRE

It was the worry of Ballinamore fans all season that when they came up against their first serious test, they would buckle and unfortunately for last year’s Intermediate Champions, that scenario came to pass as they looked shocked and put off their rhythm by Glencar/Manorhamilton’s intensity and desire.

Honestly, I didn’t see that coming as Paul Prior’s team looked a shadow of the team who played with such pace and intent all season and Glencar/Manorhamilton’s effective shackling of Dean & Niall McGovern shutting down Ballinamore’s momentum at it’s source.

It was a shattering defeat that rocked Ballinamore fans to their core but for a group of young players used to all-conquering success in recent years, maybe, just maybe, it will be the defeat that drives them on to greater success in the years ahead. After all, just look at the Dubs after 2014!

ST. MARY'S PRODUCE TOP FORM WHEN IT MATTERS MOST

At the start of this year, you’d have got long odds on St. Mary’s pushing Mohill to the very brink in this year’s Senior Championship. But that is exactly what Ciaran Reynolds’ side did last Saturday and the very least their performance deserved was a draw.

A heavy defeat in their first League game and conceding a walkover suggested all was not well in the Carrick camp but the way they have rallied round suggests a club that faced adversity and met it head on.

Their display against Melvin Gaels in the Quarter-Finals was a million miles away from what they displayed against Mohill as they moved with confidence and pace. And with a little bit more composure, they could be contesting the Senior Championship Final on Sunday week.

Yet that comes with a caveat - the reliance on a core of older players who have been driving St. Mary’s forward for ten or more years means that unless they get some new blood in, or regain some of their missing generation, they could still face a tough future.

SMALL MARGINS MAKE THE DIFFERENCE - 2

We already talked of Alan McLoughlin’s crucial intervention but there were others over the two games. Mohill may have struggled to put St. Mary’s away but they would have been a lot more comfortable had Conor Glancy not made two outstanding saves from Keith Beirne and Caillin Canning, two inspired saves.

And for Ballinamore, what about their litany of missed chances in both halves, goal and point chances wasted criminally as Glencar/Manor, guilty of some bad misses too it has to be said, were much more economical.

But the greatest small margin has to be Paddy Maguire’s goal for Manor, a third goal that punctured flickering signs of a Ballinamore momentum stone dead and one with a great deal of luck as a long pass intended for Niall Brady slipped between the Manor attacker, a defender and keeper Philip Farrelly and rolled gently to the net. The smallest touch might have stopped it, it might have still ended up in the net but on such small margins are games won and lost!