When one of the most eagerly awaited games in this year’s Connacht Gold Senior Championship took place in Páirc Sean MacDiarmada on Saturday, the first round clash of arch rivals Melvin Gaels and Glencar/Manorhamilton, it turned out to be a total anti-climax rather than a classic.
Glencar/Manorhamilton were starting out on a road that could see them winning an historic five Senior titles in a row, a feat never achieved by any other club in the county dating back to Mohill’s first decider win in 1890.
But one of the teams most likely to prevent Glencar/Manorhamilton five-in-a-row accolade would be their neighbours from down the road in Kinlough, Melvin Gaels who won last year’s Intermediate Championship title in fine style.
With 12 members of the County Senior team panel between the two squads (five for the Kinlough men and seven for the Champions), both teams can be excused for being somewhat lacklustre just a week after Laois had ended Leitrim’s involvement in the championship.
This Glencar/Manorhamilton and Melvin Gaels clash turned out to be a low scoring dour and dogged encounter at the end of which neither side got the upper-hand and in which the standard of football was always very average.
The result won’t do either team any harm in the long term, in fact it preserves an unbeaten record but they will have to catch a Mohill team who top the group after their win over Carrigallen last Saturday in Ballinamore.
Melvin Gaels took the lead in the first minute when Emlyn Mulligan fired over from play. Replying shortly afterwards at the other end Anthony McDonald shot a wide as did Adrian Croal sometime later.
After James Glancy was fouled by Fabian McMorrow in the eighth minute Glancy put Manor on level terms from the resultant free but Manor continued to kick wides, one each from Adrian Croal and Glancy.
Melvin Gaels were finding it equally difficult to score with wides from Mulligan & David McSharry and the wides continued to rack up for both team with Paul McGurrin dropping a shot into the keeper’s hands.
James Glancy edged Manor in front two minutes later when he punished a foul by Colm McGowan on Anthony McDonald by slotting over the free after the game had gone 14 minutes without a score.
Two Melvin Gaels wides and one from Glencar/Manor followed while Glencar/Manor had a let off when keeper Gary Loughlin made a great reflex 29th minute save from a close in Emlyn Mulligan soccer style shot.
Shortly afterwards, Glencar/Manor’s lead was increased to 0-3 to 0-1 for the break after James Glancy tapped over a free. With yellow cars for Paul Brennan, Adrian Croal and Darren Sweeney on either side of halftime, Emlyn Mulligan put over a Melvin Gaels free to narrow the gap.
In between two James Glancy wides, Fabian McMorrow was yellow carded while Shane Ryan also entered the book as County stars Paul Brennan and Emlyn Mulligan were off-target, the free-taker hitting the post from a 13 metre free.
Stephen McGurrin brought Melvin Gaels on level terms with a spectacular point from 45 metres out near the right-hand sideline but after hitting a wide, James Glancy edged Manor back in front after a free for a foul on Croal.
A 45 metre free that was tapped over by Aaron Hickey two minutes later doubled Glencar/Manor’s advantage. James Bredin shot a 50th minute chance short into the hands of keeper Gary Loughlin.
Melvin Gaels rallied in the final ten minutes after reducing Glencar/Manorhamilton’s lead to a single point in the following minute when Stephen McGurrin sent over a well-hit point from 45metres.
Emlyn Mulligan made it level pegging two minutes later when he whipped over a point from play but he let a chance slip to put Melvin Gaels ahead when he shot wide in the 54th minute.
Paul Brennan edged the Gaels in front within the space of 60 seconds and Mulligan doubled that advantage with a converted 59th minute free. With four minutes of additional time still to be played, Glencar/Manor still had enough time to force a draw.
James Glancy cut the Gaels lead to the minimum when he tapped over a 61st minute free and levelled the game when he fisted over a point from close range a minute later.
Melvin Gaels had a chance to claim victory almost immediately had not Emlyn Mulligan hit a free short in the Manor goalmouth that was claimed and cleared by Paddy Maguire.
At the death Glencar/Manor could have sneaked a win had not Aaron Hickey put a ‘45’ wide. A draw was a fair result to what had on the whole been a poor game that was only made interesting by the closeness of the exchanges.
Gary Loughlin; Thomas McDonald, Pat Gilmartin, Paddy Maguire; Mark McGourty, Adrian O’Flynn, James O’Brien; Aaron Hickey (0-1), Darren Sweeney; Dominic Kelly, Colin Ryan, Gerry Hickey; Adrian Croal, Anthony McDonald, James Glancy (0-6). Subs: Shane Loughlin for McGourty (41 mins); James Rooney for Kelly (47 mins); Fintan McGourty for Sweeney (48 mins); Michael Poniard for O’Brien (52 mins)
Gareth Phelan; Stephen Clancy, Fabian McMorrow, Shane Ryan; Paul Brennan (0-1), Paul McGurrin, Donal Clancy; Conor Sheridan, B. B. Brennan; David McSharry, Emlyn Mulligan (0-4), Peter McGowan; Colm McGowan, Stephen McGurrin (0-2), James Bredin. Subs: Tom Lipsett for McSharry (54 mins); Jessie McGuinness for P. McGowan (59 mins).
Referee: Ray McBrien