All so comfortable for Melvin Gaels as St. Mary's fall flat

GAA Connacht Gold Senior Championship

P.J. Leddy

Melvin Gaels had a successful reintroduction to life in the Senior Championship as they outclassed a very disappointing St. Mary's Kiltoghert last Saturday.

Melvin Gaels, in their first game in the senior championship following promotion from the intermediate ranks, built up a sufficient lead in the first 37 minutes to hold off a determined rally by St. Mary’s in the final third of Saturday’s Páirc Seán clash.

The exchanges were evenly matched in the opening six minutes with Liam Ryan edging Melvin Gaels ahead from the game’s first score, a point from play and former county player Ray Mulvey tapping over a St. Mary’s free after Robbie Lowe was fouled.

The tit for tat nature of the contest continued until the end of the first quarter. Another former county player, Conor Sheridan, put Melvin Gaels back in the lead with a point from play after receiving a pass from Darragh Rooney.

A foul on Daniel Lowe provided the opportunity for St. Mary’s to get back on level terms when Alan Doherty pointed the resultant free. St. Mary’s took the lead for the first time in the 16th minute when Ray Mulvey executed his second free conversion.

Neither side managed to make the umpires raise a flag of any description for another eight minutes until Darragh Rooney, who beat two defenders, shot over a point that made it a level pegging situation once more.

Melvin Gaels finished the half the stronger and regained a lead that they held onto for the rest of the game when Philip McGowan fisted over a 25th minute point when finishing off a well orchestrated move.

Before the break, a determined Melvin Gaels surged increased their advantage on the score board by three points. In this period Mathew Clancy hit the target from play for the Gaels to put them two up.

Michael Ferguson, who had temporarily vacated his full back berth, surged forward and fired over after being put through by Darragh Rooney. Rooney, as well, was involved in the next Gaels score just prior to the interval when his shot came back off the St. Mary’s post and the ball came to the ideally placed Mathew Clancy who shot over.

Melvin Gaels led by 0-7 to 0-3 at halftime. The Gaels appeared to put the game out of St. Mary’s reach in the opening seven minutes of the second half when they increased their advantage with a goal and two points.

In this spell Peter McGowan hit over a spectacularly well-taken Melvin Gaels 45 metres point and then Darragh Rooney after scoring another point from play drove home the contest’s first goal.

But St. Mary’s, who had been struggling and hadn’t scored for over twenty-six minutes, seemed to come alive again and put Melvin Gaels on the back foot for the remainder of the contest.

The St. Mary’s resurgence at this stage seemed to result from the introduction of James McGrail as a 37th minute substitute. McGrail began to win a lot of midfield possession for St. Mary’s and decisively curtailed Melvin Gaels dominance in this sector.

Ray Mulvey converted a 40th minute St. Mary’s 45 metre free and after that Alan Doherty shot over two points in the next five minutes, one from play and one from a 40 metre free.

St. Mary’s closed the gap on Melvin Gaels to three points when Doherty nipped in to finish to the North Leitrim side’s net after intercepting a pass back to keeper Michael Neil Gallagher.

Despite dominating the play in the final ten minutes of the action, the Carrick men failed to add a further score to their tally and Melvin Gaels managed to secure their win when sub Stephen McGurrin shot a late point to ensure a deserved victory.