Shannon Gaels 1-7 Kilrush 0-8
Following an exciting, tense Senior B Football Final replay in Cooraclare on Sunday, Shannon Gaels ended their season on a positive note, capturing their first adult title since 2005.
Nigel Hehir scored the only goal of the game midway through the first half when he finished a move involving John Paul O’Neill and Shane Tubridy.
That score put the winners ahead for the first time, 1-1 to 0-3. Kilrush had made an excellent start and raced into a 0-3 to 0-0 lead, playing into the car park end in Cooraclare.
Young full-forward Eoin Tarrant and Ruaidhrí O’Connor (0-2) put over the early Kilrush scores.
Michael Coughlan put over Shannon Gaels’ first score from a free as the Gaels began to win more ball in the midfield area.
Ten minutes before half-time, Kilrush introduced Donal O’Sullivan for Martin Griffin. However, the Gaels stretched their advantage as the interval approached with John Paul O’Neill from play and Coughlan (free) pointing them 1-3 to 0-3 ahead at half-time.
In blustery, wet conditions, played in front of a large crowd, both teams showed plenty of desire and hunger in the early stages of the second period.
Approaching the last 10 minutes, an impressive Peadar McMahon score, allied to points from Niall Clancy and Tarrant, had pulled Kilrush level, 0-7 to 1-4. Shane Tubridy had scored the Gaels’ point, curling over from an acute angle.
Introduced 20 minutes from full-time, Shannon Gaels’ David Neylon made a huge contribution around the middle of the field before hobbling off injured a few minutes from time, following a collision with Eoin Tarrant, which resulted in the latter receiving a second yellow card.
With the game in the balance, John Paul O’Neill scored a superb point for the winners, robbing a Kilrush defender near the sideline before carrying the ball 40 yards and shooting over. Noel Kennedy added an equally inspirational score, while a Michael Coughlan free put the Gaels 1-7 to 0-7 ahead, as full-time approached. John Paul O’Neill was unlucky not to score a second-half goal when he pulled on a break off Nigel Hehir, only to hit the inside of the post. The ball came back out, before spinning wide at the opposite side.
Kilrush threw everything at the Gaels as full-time neared and Peadar McMahon pointed a free to leave just two points between the teams. Defending in numbers, Shannon Gaels held out to record a two-point win.
Tomás Madigan played excellent football for Shannon Gaels at corner-back, while Brian Bermingham and Fergal Kenny did well in the half-back line.
Noel Kennedy, Michael O’Donoghue and Seán Reynolds helped the Gaels to win crucial possession in the middle, as did David Neylon when brought on. The winners’ full-forward line of John Paul O’Neill, Nigel Hehir and Shane Tubridy dovetailed nicely, scoring 1-3 from play between them. It was this return that proved the main difference between the teams.
John Hayes and Matthew Moloney did well for Kilrush, particularly when attacking from the half-back line, while Eoin Tarrant and Peadar McMahon looked dangerous, as did Ruaidhrí O’Connor, particularly early in the game.
Shannon Gaels: Keith Ryan; Tomás Madigan, John Neylon, Frank Cleary; John Bermingham, Brian Bermingham, Fergal Kenny; Noel Kennedy, Michael O’Donoghue; Michael Coughlan, Seán Reynolds, Brian Cunningham; John Paul O’Neill, Nigel Hehir, Shane Tubridy.
Subs: David Neylon for Brian Cunningham, Tomás Cleary for Shane Tubridy, Brian O’Shea for David Neylon (injured).
Scorers: Nigel Hehir (1-0), Michael Coughlan (0-3f), John Paul O’Neill (0-2), Noel Kennedy, Shane Tubridy (0-1) each.
Kilrush: Tony Burke; Chris Dixon, James Hehir, Seamus Bolton, Niall Clancy, John Hayes, Matthew Moloney; Martin Griffin, Jim Young; Peadar McMahon, Cathal Lyons, Padjoe McGrath; Stephen Sweeney, Eoin Tarrant, Ruaidhrí O’Connor.
Subs: Donal O’Sullivan for Martin Griffin, Alan Daly for Ruaidhrí O’Connor, Niall Gilbride for Cathal Lyons.
Scorers: Peadar McMahon (0-4, 0-3f), Eoin Tarrant, Ruaidhrí O’Connor (0-2 each).
Referee: Michael Talty (Kilmurry Ibrickane).