Drumreilly do it once again

GAA Connacht Gold Senior Championship

John Connolly

For the second time in a year, Drumreilly threw all logic on its head when they shocked Allen Gaels last Sunday in Ballinamore.

Allen Gaels headed into the game as hot favourites and were justifying that tag when they led by four points with a quarter of the game left as Drumreilly struggled to match their energy & ability.

Truthfully, this reporter didn't see this result coming and for three-quarters of the game, that was how it was playing out before Drumreilly repeated their playoff heroics of last year when their 13 men defied Carrigallen to reach the Quarter-Finals.

Drumreilly's players displayed fanatical spirit and once there was a scent of victory, there was only going to be one winner. Yet Allen Gaels must be wondering how they lost this game - Alan Wynne was dominant in defence with Kyle Flynn also impressive while Martin Beirne was generally the dominant man in the middle of the park.

Upfront, Nicholas Moore & the Mulvey brothers looked dangerous but perhaps the split in focus in not getting the ball first and foremost to Moore came back to haunt them as they never made enough of their chances.

And it must be a particular worry that Allen Gaels heads seemed to go all in the final ten minutes as all their previous good play disintegrated. But credit must go first and foremost to Drumreilly who hung in there when the pressure was on and struck decisively when the chance came.

Drumreilly had so many heroes - Olly Maguire, Declan Maxwell and Nigel Maguire were immense in the middle of the park, James Holohan and Conor Gaffney ran themselves into the ground while John McKeon, Sean Fee & Donal McCabe excelled in defence.

Yet it was the player who didn't start due to injury who provided the two interventions that turned the game their way - Frank Holohan who won two long deliveries and had the presence of mind and ability to set up two goals for James Holohan.

The game was slow to start with both sides guilty of wides before Nicholas Moore broke through tackles to point after eight minutes. That prompted a rash of scores as Martin Beirne, James Flynn and Brian Mulvey all added a point apiece in the following three minutes.

Conor Gaffney converted a 50 to open Drumreilly’s account but the Drumshanbo men were in control as a Moore free and a Brian Mulvey point had them five clear eight minutes from halftime.

But the game changed five minutes before halftime when sub Frank Holohan won a long ball out in the corner, broke the gain line and found James Holohan bursting through the middle at full speed to fire the ball to the net.

Another long ball to Frank Holohan set up James Holohan for a fine point and now there was only a point in it. But credit Allen Gaels who responded with a lovely Moore free from the corner before Gaffney and Thomas Mulvey swapped points to leave Allen Gaels 0-8 to 1-3 in front at the break.

Moore & Nigel Maguire, from distance, swapped points while Mick McGirl saved a fisted effort from James Flynn. The Gaels had a goal chance only for Ronan McCartin to block Shane Walsh’s shot but points from a Moore fifty and a nicely taken Gareth Higgins score to put them four clear.

Crucially, they didn’t push on and the damage was done when Frank Holohan made a great catch from a free, burst through before off-loading to an unmarked Raymond Fee who blasted home from close range despite a heavy collision that saw him replaced.

Allen Gaels almost hit back in perfect fashion but Brian Mulvey’s shot was blocked and a Gaffney free left the sides level with ten minutes to go. The game looked in the balance but from the kickout, Declan Maxwell fisted the ball on to Gaffney who drew the defence before finding James Holohan and he made no mistake with a fantastic finish.

Allen Gaels tried to hit back immediately but a poor fisted effort saw an easy catch for Mick McGirl when a goal looked certain. With that miss, Allen Gaels’ confidence drained as Drumreilly played down the clock. Dylan Mimna broke through a tackle to point after good work from Frank Holohan.

Allen Gaels kept trying but their accuracy deserted them while Thomas Mulvey saw a powerful shot blocked as Drumreilly secured the win.