They say a rising tide lifts all boats and Gortletteragh’s appearance in next Saturday’s Intermediate Championship has obviously rubbed off on their second string team who swatted aside the challenge of Allen Gaels last Saturday in Kiltubrid to comfortably qualify for the GWP Junior A Championship Final
On a sun blessed evening, both teams produced a fast paced semi-final, attacking in waves and showing great pace but it was Gortletteragh’s superior fitness and strength in depth allied with an impressive display from Minor Padraig Gallagher that proved the difference in the end.
Gortletteragh were well worth the win, the experienced duo of Padraig McGarry and Cathal Quinn dominated the middle of the field, Sean Costello led a disciplined defence and young Gallagher caused huge problems for the Allen Gaels defence which never truly came to grips with his pace and skill on the ball.
Gallagher’s first half goal was a truly stunning effort, a burst of speed carrying him for 20 yards before he unleashed a 30 yard thunderbolt that left Neil Nolan helpless in the Gaels goal.
What was most evident was the boost Gortletteragh have got from the exploits of their first string team in reaching the Intermediate Final. Cathal Quinn and Terry Kelleher both had key roles for their second string and both started against Allen Gaels last Saturday.
But most noticeable was the drive and fitness of the Gortletteragh men as they had a definite edge against an Allen Gaels side whose senior team haven’t seen action since they were knocked out of the Senior Quarter-Finals back in the middle of August.
Indeed, Allen Gaels had two goal chances in the first five minutes that would have made this game a lot more interesting had they been converted but their final touch was not quite as clinical as that of Gortletteragh and it undone a lot of good approach work.
Gortletteragh now face Leitrim Gaels in the Junior Final ahead of an incredibly busy few weeks – next Saturday, they contest the Intermediate Final against Dromahair and the following Sunday week, their Minors join up with Fenagh to take on St. Manchan’s.
It leaves the County Board with something of a fixture headache but it is one that Gortletteragh will gladly endure, particularly if they can follow the example of Melvin Gaels last year and win both Intermediate and Junior A titles.
The game started at break-neck speed but without scores as Gortletteragh dominated but were very lucky not to concede two goals as Gerard Griffin got a vital block on Diarmuid McKiernan’s shot and Padraig Kenny blasted badly wide after a knock-down from Martin Kalisz.
Gortletteragh had five wides before Padraig Gallagher put over a tenth minute free that brought a burst of scoring. Gallagher himself gathered a kick-out and soloed in to unleash a staggering 30 yard shot to the top corner of the net.
Barely had the celebrations died down and Gortletteragh were brought back down to earth with a bang – Emmet Burke lofted a fifty towards goal, it broke and Martin Kalisz showed great reactions and skill to gather and blast to the net from 12 yards.
Allen Gaels had a chance to level but missed two chances and a Gallagher free steadied Gortletteragh although Burke was unlucky to see a Gaels free come off the post and Thomas Nolan fisted wide from a cross from Shane Walsh.
Neil Nolan saved a snap shot from Gallagher but Gortletteragh finished the half with points from Dermot Kennedy and Gallagher to leave them with a 1-4 to 1-0 halftime lead.
The pattern continued in the second half with both teams missing early chances before Gortletteragh took control with three points from Gallagher, Barry Tiernan and Padraig McGarry, all the result of lovely moves, between the fifth and ninth minutes.
Shane Walsh blasted over the bar with a goal possibly on the cards before Kennedy swapped points with Diarmuid McKiernan as the gap stood at six points, However, two Gallagher points, both in isolation, started to open up a big gap.
McKiernan hit back with a free but as the game started to wind down, the pace started to go out of the game. Gallagher notched another free with Emmet Burke scoring Allen Gaels last point with eight minutes to go, a lovely point.
Fittingly, the last score fell to McGarry to take his personal tally to 1-8 although Gortletteragh still needed keeper Niall Kiernan to make two good saves to deny Shane Walsh and Martin Kalisz a late consolation goal.
Niall Kiernan, Gerard Griffin, Sean Costello, Simon Egan, Dermot Kennedy (0-1), Terry Kelleher, Barry Tiernan (0-1), Cathal Quinn, Padraig McGarry (0-1), John Reynolds, Peadar Cassells, Alan McCann, Gavin Mitchell, Derek Kelleher, Padraig Gallagher (1-8). Subs: Nigel Keighran for D. Kelleher (50 mins), Alan McGarry for Tiernan (52 mins), Neil Quinn for Mitchell (57 mins).
Neil Nolan, Stephen Tiernan, Sean O’Dwyer, David Wynne, Brian Beirne, Jason Loftus, Adrian Sorohan, Emmet Burke (0-1), Dylan McGowan, Shane Walsh (0-1), Alan McKeon, Thomas Nolan, Padraig Kenny, Martin Kalisz (1-0), Diarmuid McKiernan (0-2). Subs: Brian Moran for Loftus (HT), Shane McLoughlin for T. Nolan (39 mins).
Referee: Derek Moran.