Letterkenny Gaels 5-9 St. Marys 2-5
A welcome break in the recent inclement weather allowed Páirc na nGael to host the visit of St. Mary’s Convoy in the opening round of the Division Two U-21 Championship on Wednesday evening.
The large crowd in attendance were treated to an engaging and entertaining contest benefiting from a fabulous playing surface in the light of the recent heavy rainfall, especially as served up by two young teams, both short of many of their more established players.
It was Letterkenny Gaels (pictured above) that came out on top.
The visitors started the brighter with the Convoy midfield pairing wasting little opportunity to find their full forward line and were soon rewarded with the opening point. Indeed the visitors could, and perhaps should have extended their lead but for some sloppy finishing and telling pressure from the Gael’s full back line of Chris Quinn, Conor Coll and Aaron Diver.
The pressure was relieved in the form of an equalising score from Letterkenny Gaels full forward, Conor McBrearty, playing his first match of the season after recent injury.
This score was to be the catalyst for the Letterkenny Gaels as, with the return of their sharp shooter, forward and captain, McBrearty, the young Letterkenny charges extended the lead through four points from Sean McDonagh and McBrearty, aided and abetted with the speed of Cannon and McMaken from the half forwards, and clever movement in creating space by corner forward Aidan Hanley.
The final ten minutes of the opening half saw Convoy rising to the challenge and proving to be a match in the middle third of the field. This period proved to be decisive as it became a story of chances for both sides, squandered by the visitors and ruthlessly dispatched by the hosts.
Two classic goals by McBrearty, the first from a crisp high ball into the box from wing half back Joe Friel and the second a solo goal exhibiting his blistering pace accompanied from points by McDonagh and McMaken and a solitary point by Convoy saw the half time score line read Letterkenny Gaels 2-7 St. Mary’s Convoy 0-2.
The second period began as a mirror of the first, with Convoy in the ascendancy. This time a goal from their first attack followed quickly by a further point gave Convoy a shot in the arm and gave them increased hope.
Convoy buoyed from their blistering start had the wind knocked out of their sails through tenacious tackling all over the pitch but most notably from the Letterkenny Gaels midfielders of Tristan Ferris and Paddy Doherty who took complete control around the middle and provided a solid attacking platform for the Letterkenny men to attack at will.
Whenever St. Mary’s did manage to mount an attack they were rebuffed time and again by a much more solid second half showing by the Gaels half back line most marshalled by centre half back Conor Brown and Donal O’Malley.
A flurry of three Letterkenny goals, the pick of which being Hanley’s interception of a short kick out and blistering finish, put pay to any hopes of a Convoy resurgence.
Yet to the great credit of the visitors they did not let their heads drop and two points and a goal mid-way through the half was just rewards for their endeavours.
The Gaels had much to thank their goalkeeper Shane Graham for a number of impressive saves which gave the hosts a sizeable comfort zone to see out the remainder of the game; the final score reading Letterkenny Gaels 5-9 St.Mary’s 2-5Tags: