After almost contriving to lose last Friday’s Minor League 13-a-side Final, Garadice Gaels somehow managed to pull the title out of the fire in extra-time after they were nearly caught at the death by Dromahair in a poor decider in St. Mary’s Park, Cloone.
Garadice Gaels 1-11 Dromahair 2-7
Given what transpired over the previous 58 minutes, it is hard to believe that Garadice would have been taken to extra-time but an uncharacteristic wastefulness in front of the posts meant that Dromahair still had a chance.
Yet, so superior were Garadice and so out of contention were Dromahair that it was impossible to believe that the north Leitrim men could rescue a draw as they trailed by seven points but two dramatic goals and a point ensured a game where Garadice were the vastly superior side went to extra-time.
With Dromahair moving Killian Torsney out of goal, it seemed as if the underdogs were about to pull off one of the most improbable wins as they led by a point midway through extra-time but Garadice’s tradition of resilience is still strong and two Gary Plunkett frees in the last two minutes rescued victory.
In truth, it was a desperately poor final where neither team delivered what they were capable of – had Garadice taken a third, or even a quarter, of their missed chances, then Dromahair would never have had a chance of an amazing recovery.
Dromahair looked desperately at sea for long periods of this game but credit must be given for their resilience and the fact that they came so close to an amazing victory.
Best for Garadice Gaels were Conor Gaffney, Gary Plunkett, Stephen Gilheaney, Devin Quinn and Declan Flanagan while Gary Clinton, Enda Fowley, Killian Torsney and Joseph Maguire were best for an out-classed Dromahair.
Dromahair started brightly, despite Declan Flanagan’s first minute point, as two Gary Fowley points, one from a free, gave them an early lead. But a swift tenth move cut straight through the Dromahair defence and Stephen Gilheaney was on hand with a lovely finish for a Garadice goal.
That score transformed the game as Garadice would add three points before halftime from Conor Gaffey (2) and Gary Plunkett (free) but it was missed chances that told it’s tale with Killian Torsney making a good save from Gilheaney, leaving the halftime score at 1-4 to 0-2.
Two early points from Declan Flanagan and Plunkett seemed to put the game beyond reach. Fowley and Flanagan swapped points with Joe Maguire and Gaffney doing likewise but it was all Garadice as Jonathan Kelly made a vital block on Gary Plunkett to deny a goal.
With the game seemingly won, a penalty after a foul on Robbie Cunningham didn’t seem to mean much but Cunningham converted and suddenly Dromahair were a different team. Gary Fowley’s free narrowed the gap and then a cheeky Fowley goal from a free, some 20 yards out, caught the Garadice defence off-guard.
That left the score level and the game went to extra-time and with Dromahair moving Killian Torsney out the field, the north Leitrim men were in flying form. Dylan Mimnagh pointed but a great Torsney point and a Fowley free gave them a deserved lead although both sides missed goal chances.
Daragh McNiff cleared a dangerous shot and Enda Fowley stops Gary Plunkett who was through on goal. The game seemed to be slipping away from Garadice but in the last two minutes of the second half of added time, Gary Plunkett first converted a free to tie the scores before fisting over a point after Dylan Mimnagh’s shot came off the post.
Daragh McNiff, Devin Quinn, Pierce Dolan, Killian Lavin, David O’Connell, Declan Flanagan (0-3), Stephen Gilheaney (1-0), Sean Fox, Dylan Mimnagh (0-1), Conor Gaffney (0-3), Fergal McTague, Gary Plunkett (0-4), Ciaran O’Hare. Subs: Gerard Curran for O’Hare (50 mins), Ronan Maxwell for Curran (63 mins).
Killian Torsney (0-1), Enda Fowley, Kevin Vesey, Dean Kelly, Jonathan Kelly, Jason Gallagher, Cathal McTiernan, Joseph Maguire (0-1), Gary Clinton, Terry O’Rourke, James Morrison, Gary Fowley (1-5), Robbie Cunningham. Subs: Keith Conlon (1-0) for Clinton (32 mins), Clinton for Cunningham (67 mins).
Referee: Gareth Foley.