For the first time since 2005, Dromahair have qualified for the GWP Intermediate Championship final and after their comprehensive victory over Aughnasheelin in Ballinamore on Saturday, nobody could argue that they do not deserve to take their place in the decider.
Throughout the competition Dromahair have been workman-like, always doing enough to see off their opponents without every really impressing but on Saturday, they dominated their opponents all over the pitch and the only complaint the Dromahair management could have was that the winning margin wasn’t even greater.
Goals scored by Conor Farrell and Conor Kelly late in the opening half and early in the second half made sure of victory and by the time Aughnasheelin gave a glimpse of their attacking threat late in the second half the game was already over.
The full-forward partnership of Christy McGowan and Conor Kelly, both players with inter-county experience, proved a handful for Aughnasheelin but the key to Dromahair’s victory was the manner in which the midfield duo of Paddy McGowan and Camillus McMorrow, along with the half back line were so effective at winning breaking ball, meaning it was very difficult for Aughnasheelin to gain any momentum over the course of the game.
Dromahair began the game in a very positive manner and Kevin Conlan helped settle any nerves that may have been present among their supporters and having taken the lead, they never looked back. Christy McGowan doubled the Dromahair lead after a fine Jamie Conlon pass and moments later Conlan further increased the lead.
Aughnasheelin were struggling to get a foothold on the game and when Conor Kelly put Dromahair four points clear midway through the half it was already beginning to look ominous. With 11 minutes of the half remaining Aughnasheelin opened their account when Cathal Egan converted a free after a foul on Barry McWeeney.
Unfortunately for Aughnasheelin that score did not signal the beginning of a comeback as within two minutes Dromahair scored arguably the game’s best point. Kevin Conlan and Christy McGowan combined to release Cian Clinton and the move received the finish it deserved as Clinton floated the ball over the bar from the stand side of Pairc Sheain Ui Eislin.
Aughnasheelin responded with another Cathal Egan free after a foul on Derek Moran as he was about to shoot. However, Dromahair were still very much the dominant team and two minutes before the interval they struck for the game’s opening goal. Jamie Conlan did very well bringing the ball out of defence and after Cian Clinton floated a dangerous ball goalwards,
Aughnasheelin goalkeeper Sean Mahon got a fist to the ball ahead of Christy McGowan. Unfortunately for Aughnasheelin the ball fell kindly for Conlan who found the unmarked Conor Kelly in front of goal. Rather than waiting to gather the ball and allow defenders to get back, Kelly finished to the net with an emphatic volley.
The comprehensive lead was no less than Dromahair deserved but it was Aughnasheelin who finished the half the stronger of the sides as Barry McWeeney’s fine point was followed by a Cathal Egan free. Despite all Dromahair’s possession and the fact that Aughnasheelin failed to score from play until the 30th minute, the gap between the teams on the scoreboard wasn’t insurmountable as Dromahair led 1-5 to 0-4.
Aughnasheelin would no doubt have been hoping for a fast start to the second half to keep their interest in the tie alive but it was Dromahair who looked keen to have their dominance on the pitch reflected on the scoreboard. Early points from Christy McGowan and Stephen Smyth extended the lead before Conor Farrell struck for Dromahair’s second goal of the game eight minutes after the restart.
With the game effectively over, Dromahair’s intensity dropped with Paddy McGowan’s fisted point, the only addition to the scoring.
Encouragement came for Aughnasheelin when Brendan Mulvey was on the end of a fine team move involving Keith Boyle, Barry McWeeney and Keith Sammon and Mulvey dispatched the ball past Kieran Meehan. If that goal had arrived 10 minutes earlier it may have changed the course of the game but it proved to be little more than a consolation score.
Aughnasheelin suddenly seemed to have more belief in their play and two points in quick succession from Gavin Sammon and Sean McWeeney further reduced the deficit but Dromahair were in no real danger and deep in injury time Gerard Kelly completed the scoring to secure his side’s place in the final.
St. Patrick’s Dromahair
Kieran Meehan, Fergus Meehan, Stephen Keegan, Michael McKeon, Jamie Conlon, Adrian Fowley, Stephen Smyth (0-1), Camillus McMorrow, Paddy McGowan (0-1), Cian Clinton (0-2), John Evans, Kevin Conlan (0-2), Conor Farrell (1-0), Christy McGowan (0-2), Conor Kelly (1-1). Subs: Martin Clancy for Conlan (46 mins), Gerard Kelly (0-1) for Evans (53 mins), Kenny Casey for McKeon (56 mins).
Sean Mahon, Derek Moran, Paddy McManus, Paul Earley, Kevin McWeeney, Barry McWeeney (0-1), Joe Earley, Keith Boyle, Sean McWeeney (0-1), Gavin Sammon (0-1), Wayne Gilgunn, Keith Sammon, Michael Dominican, Cathal Egan (0-3), Brendan Mulvey (1-0). Subs: Niall Mulvanerty for Dominican (46 mins), Conor Flynn for K. McWeeney (51 mins).
Referee: Seamus Mulhern