Garadice Gaels emerged narrow victors in what proved to be an absorbing Minor Championship 13-a-side Final against Carrigallen in Ballinamore on Wednesday evening last.
By Philip Rooney
Minor 13 a side Championship Final
Garadice Gaels 1-10
For the majority of the game, there was little to separate the sides and as the game progressed the question many were posing was how extra-time would be played as darkness began to descend on Pairc Sean Ui hEislin! Ultimately there was no need for extra-time as Garadice Gaels’ Conor Gaffney struck for the game’s all important goal eight minutes before the end.
Carrigallen tried to get back in to contention but Stephen Gilheaney, Noel and Gary Plunkett helped ensure a tiring Carrigallen side were unable to create a significant chance of note in the closing stages as the Aughawillan/Drumreilly amalgamation finished strongly to claim victory.
Gaffney’s goal put three points between the sides for the first time as, prior to that, the game saw both sides enjoy periods of dominance before the other side would hit back.
The finish to the game was tough on the Carrigallen players who had more than played their part in what was a very entertaining contest. Niall Ward, Thiernan O’Rourke and Tomas Rolskies and Gerald Percival all had excellent games for their side but ultimately their efforts fell just short.
Garadice Gaels deservedly took the lead from a Stephen Gilheaney free. However, the lead would not last long as Gerald Percival pointed after his initial free came back to him after striking the upright.
Despite the difficult conditions and the strong wind that swept across the Ballinamore venue both sides played with an intensity that made for an absorbing encounter.
Carrigallen struck with two points in quick succession to end a seven minute scoreless period. The first of those points was an excellent team score that saw Alex McFarlane, Thiernan O’Rourke, Gerald Percival and Padraig Doyle all heavily involved before O’Rourke applied the finishing ouch with a well taken point.
That score was quickly followed by a Percival free to give the Carrigallen a two point lead. However, that lead was soon cut in half as Stephen Gilheaney converted his second free to leave the bare minimum between the sides.
Garadice Gaels’ Gary Plunkett levelled the game soon after and as the game progressed, its end to end nature showed no sign of relenting and Carrigallen came agonisingly close to scoring the game’s opening goal.
Tomas Rolskies played a dangerous ball across the face of the Garadice goal and as Padraig Doyle jumped with his hand outstretched, it seemed inevitable he would score but the ball was just out of his reach.
Gilheaney and Percival swapped frees before Garadice regained the lead when Gary Plunkett benefited from good work from the other Plunkett on the team and he calmly pointed to once again put a point between the sides.
Carrigallen hit back almost immediately - Percival levelled the sides for the fourth time when he converted a free and less than a minute later Carrigallen edged in front when Padraig Doyle finished a move with the point that Aaron Berine’s good work deserved.
Garadice Gaels ensured there would be nothing separating the sides at the interval when Conor Gaffney scored a fine point to level matters at 0-6 each.
To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.