ONE of the most stylish frees you’re ever likely to see from Stephen Griffin put the seal on St Naul’s Intermediate Football Championship win over Cloughaneely this afternoon.
St Naul’s 1-10 Cloughaneely 0-10
Griffin’s free from underneath the stand on the Town End of MacCumhaill Park was crisply struck and the roar from the crowd huddled underneath the stand told the story. For Cloughaneely, it was a heartbreaking end to a marathon championship campaign.
In five of their six outings to date, the decisive score in either a Cloughaneely win or draw came in injury time. In the end they went to the well once too many times.
The side managed by Michael Lynch had been sailing close to the wind all season, so had become acclimatized to playing the clock from when turns from black to red. Even after Griffin’s point, Cloughaneely had one last chance.
Shaun McGarvey fizzed a 66thminute free into the populated square and as fists flew to get the decisive touch the ball flew over the St Naul’s crossbar. Referee Marc Dorrian, though, signaled a square ball.
St Naul’s were 1-3 to 0-4 in front at half-time and if anything, their margin by then should’ve been even more. Before a point was registered by either side, Peadar Mogan blazed through on goal but his attempt at a punched point was short and dropped illegally into the net.
Barry Meehan’s team were on the front foot and with both sides taking a while to find their gears, it was St Naul’s who made the early move, despite conceding the first two scores of the match with McGarvey and then Jason McGee on the mark.
A brilliant goal by Daniel Brennan, who gave a masterful performance at midfield, gave St Naul’s a spring in their step. Brennan burst through onto a pass from Barry Griffin and smashed the ball into Michael McGinley’s top corner on 19 minutes.
Points followed from Brennan, Mogan and Stuart Johnson and even though they’d kicked five wides from decent positions, St Naul’s were 1-3 to 0-2 in front. However, Cloughaneely managed to get a bit of forward motion going towards the end of the half, with Michael Fitzgerald and McGarvey scoring before the break.
The lights came on in the second half as the heavens opened and the contest gained a feel of attrition.
Cloughanelly began to claw their way closer again. McGarvey and Shaun Maguire scored either side of a Stephen Griffin free and there was almost a goal for the team from Falcarragh midway through the half.
Cillian Gallagher, whose influence was growing go in and hit a rasper only for Gavin Mulreany to save and then from the follow-up, hit by Ciaran McFadden, was heroically blocked on the line by Brendan McCole.
At the other end, St Naul’s became a little snatchy. Michael Coughlan got into a great position only to shoot high and wide and leave with nothing. Then, a Cathal Lowther effort hadn’t the legs and was gathered by Michael McGinley.
A free from Maguire and then a Darren Ferry score on 49 minutes meant Cloughaneely were one up and looking most likely, 0-9 to 1-5.
However, St Naul’s wouldn’t lie down and have been known to pull a comeback from their hat of late. They didn’t panic and the maintaining of that composure meant that some of their players, who had lost four finals, didn’t lose a fifth.
Shane Connely levelled it up and then Mogan and Brennan scored to put St Naul’s 1-8 to 0-9 in front with two minutes left. It was still in the melting pot and McGarvey’s free right on time pulled one back for Cloughaneely.
But there would be no fairytale for those in blue and white. Brennan brought his personal total for the day to 1-3 with a fine score before Griffin’s sealer at the bitter end. The folk from Mountcharles were soon singing in the rain.
Cloughaneely:Michael McGinley; Aidan Doohan, Ciaean Scanlon, Michael Fitzgerald (0-1); Mark Harley, Darren McGeever, Ciaran McGeady (0-1); Jason McGee (0-1), Michael Mulhern; Kevin Mulhern, Shaun McGarvey (0–5, 5fs), Ciaran McFadden; Cillian Gallagher, Paul Sweeney, Shaun Maguire (0-1). Subs: Darren Ferry (0-1) for M.Maguire (half-time), John Fitzgerald for S.Maguire (38), Shaun Maguire for Gallagher (63), Marto Maguire for Sweeney (66).
St Naul’s:Gavin Mulreany; Caolan Gaffney, Brendan McCole, John Rose; Peadar Mogan (0-2, 1f), Ian Campbell, Conor McBrearty; Lee McBrearty, Stephen Griffin (0-2, 2fs); Martin Breslin, Barry Griffin, Michael Coughlan; Stuart Johnston (0-2), Daniel Brennan (1-3, 1f), Shane Conneely (0-1). Subs: Diarmuid Gallagher for Gaffney (40 mins), Cathal Lowther for Breslin (42), Daniel Gallagher for Coughlan (52), John Relihan for Campbell (63).
Referee:Mark Dorrian (Gaeil Fhánada)Tags: