Mixed emotions as all to do again

March 24, 2014

Br Edmund Ignatius Rice Cup Final

St Joseph’s, Crossmaglen 1-7 Our Lady’s Secondary, Belmullet 1-7 (AET)

St Joseph’s, Crossmaglen and opponents Our Lady’s, Belmullet will both have mixed emotions following their thrilling draw after extra time at Markievicz Park in the Br Edmund Ignatius Rice Cup final. The Masita GAA All-Ireland Post Primary Schools saw the Connacht representatives from Mayo record a staggering total of 18 wides but it was the Ulster champions who wasted gilt edged winning chances at the end of normal and extra-time to snatch glory. Played in windy conditions with the refereeing of  Damien Maher (Westmeath) irritating both sets of players and supporters the end result was just as it gives both teams a chance to producing to their capabilities in the replay whose date is not fixed at the time of us going to print.

Wind assisted Belmullet made all the early running but were wide of the uprights and found themselves trailing as Aaron Duffy, who had a quiet afternoon following his semi-final heroics, opened the St Joseph’s account with his only score of the match. But it was the very dangerous Tommy Conroy who took all the opening half plaudits as he helped himself to all his team’s scores 1-2. Indeed had the Kiltane player brought his shooting boots he would have left Cross with a lot more than a 2 point interval deficit? Callum Kearns and Johnny McKeever got the other two St Joseph’s points as they seemed a little overawed by the importance of the occasion failing to get up to their usual fast tempo and flowing football.

Having watched the opening half the one thing that was evident was the scoring was going to be at a premium as the first half only yielded 3 scores each. Cross began the second half with purpose and were rewarded with a Conor Connolly point. Belmullet, driven on by the attack minded half back Eoghan McGrath and midfielder Jack Deane, had points from Peter Rafferty and a Justin Healy (free) which left them 3 ahead going into the last quarter. With their team in trouble Cross management resorted to what got them out of trouble before switching goalkeeper Eoghan McDonnell to attack with Rory O’Connor going between the sticks. The shuffled pack began to work as the Armagh side slowly got a grip on proceedings Team Captain Arnas Dzinkevicius found Conor Connolly, who in turn passed to Micheal McCabe, and the corner-forward, who was having a very quiet day, showed that class is permanent as he exquisitely lobbed Belmullet keeper Aaron Healey for a super goal that tied the scores. Cross were at last functioning to a degree and eked out a couple of good opportunities to crucially take the lead but the long whistle sounded with the sides on level terms, 1-5 apiece.

Relieved that they had survived to extra-time Belmullet got second wind and again took control with their main man Conroy to the fore. He blazed a very good goal chance wide and was back again minutes later for a second go but his goalbound shot was brilliantly saved by O’Connor. A green flag at that stage could have been curtains but Belmullet were not done yet and points from Jack Deane and Peter Cafferkey left them 2 ahead. Cross did not reach an All-Ireland final without being resilient and when the chips were down they forced a second day out as points from Connolly and McCabe saved the day.

Replays are all about who learns the most from the drawn encounter. Cross were as poor as they have been all year yet are still in the contest. It will be Belmullet who will be the ones thinking that they have thrown it away as they performed the better on the day but could not take their scores. Different playing conditions and a better standard of refereeing the next day out will make all the difference. Ability wise St Joseph’s have more to pull out of the hat than their opponents which should tilt the verdict in their favour at the next time of asking.

St Joseph’s : Eoghan Mc Donnell, Daniel Cunningham, Shane Farrelly, James Meegan, Declan Reel, Fearghal Mackin, Sean óg Irwin, Stephen Morris (0-1),  Arnas Dzinkevicius capt, Jack McArdle, Conor Connolly (0-2), Johnny Mc Keever (0-1), Callum Kierans (0-1) , Aaron Duffy (0-1), Miceal McCabe (1-1) Subs : Fergal Burns for Reel, Conor Traynor for Irwin, John Rafferty for McArdle, Rory O’Connor for Kierans, Callum Kierans for Rafferty.

Our Lady’s, Belmullet; Aaron Healey, Michael Dempsey, James Deane, Marty Boylan, Eoghan McGrath, Mickey Barrett, Joe Mason, Eoghan O’Donoghue, Jack Deane (0-1), Evan Conmey, James Kelly, Peter Cafferkey (0-1), Ryan O Donoghue (0-1) Tommy Conroy (1-2) Justin Healey (0-2) Subs; Colin Barrett for Boylan, Gary Boylan for Barrett