Gabriel Rangers 0-16
BRENDAN KENNEALLY REPORTS
SEAN Kelleher held his nerve to score one of the most important points in Gabriel Rangers’ history last Saturday afternoon at sunny Coachford.
With the teams locked at 0-15 apiece in this county intermediate football championship semi-final, Kelleher struck over an injury-time free that catapulted Gabriels into this county final for the first time ever, but it also guaranteed the Carbery club’s place in the new Premier Intermediate grade for next season.
Gabriels were leading by two points early in the second half but then conceded six points in a row to a rampant Dromtarriffe.
Mark Cronin’s point for Gabriels in the 47th minute, however, kick-started a rally which by the 54th minute had brought the Carbery men level, with points coming from Eddie Goggin and young Jordie O’Brien.
Then the drama intensified further with first Dromtarriffe going back in front and then Gabriels drawing level and edging a point clear before the Duhallow men grabbed an equaliser in the 64th minute.
There was one final twist in the tale. Gabriels were awarded a free from over 40 metres out in the 65th minute. Sean Kelleher kicked a magnificent curling shot over the centre of the Dromtarriffe crossbar to put Rangers back in front and, after surviving one last scare at the other end, into their first county intermediate final.
‘I asked the lads on Friday night to give it their heart and soul,’ said Gabriels manager Brian Hayes, ‘and they dug deep when we were four points down in the second half.
‘Their reaction to that situation was fantastic, their use of the ball excellent, veterans like Pat Nolan were inspirational and young fellas like Jordie O’Brien fulfilling their promise.’
‘We are a very small club and we have been written off all year but we savour days like these and we will give it our all once again in the final.’
Dromtarriffe had early points from Daniel O’Keeffe and an Evan Murphy free. When Mark Cronin had an opening point for Gabriels in the seventh minute, Dromtarriffe quickly replied with another from O’Keeffe.
Mark Cronin and Evan Murphy exchanged points from frees, Cronin pointed again before Sean Kelleher levelled the scores at 0-4 each in the 18th minute from a 45. Gabriels went back in front with a superb point from Mark Cronin after fine approach work by Sasha Walden and Eddie Goggin, with Dromtarriffe quickly equalised from a close range free.
As the game went into added time, Sean Kelleher (2) and Eddie Goggin were on target for Gabriels before Tomás Howard had a late point to leave Dromtarriffe trailing by 0-6 to 0-8 at the break.
On the resumption, the sides exchanged points, Conor O’Callaghan’s point for the Duhallow champions matched by one from Mark Cronin. It was 0-9 to 0-7 in the 32nd minute.
There was a clear rise in intensity now in the exchanges as the two teams battled for supremacy, and it was Dromtarriffe who were forcing the pace. They kicked six points in a row, four from Evan Murphy and one each from Tomás Howard and Daniel O’Keeffe, and leading by 0-13 to 0-9 in the 43rd minute they looked to be on the road to the final.
Mark Cronin pointed a free for Gabriels in the 47th minute to break the sequence of Dromtarriffe scores. From here to the finish the display of the Carbery men was outstanding. Jordie O’Brien took a fine score to narrow the gap, Eddie Goggin pointed a 51st minute free after Cronin was fouled and it was all square in the 54th minute when Goggin fed O’Brien who confidently fisted over the bar. Evan Murphy put his side back in front from play, Eddie Goggin pointed an equalising free in reply, 0-14 apiece in the 58th minute.
The excitement was intense, the contest enthralling. Jordie O’Brien broke the stalemate in the first minute of added time with a smashing point from a tight angle and subsequently Eddie Goggin won three contests at midfield in sequence before earning a relieving free for his side.
Gabriels defended magnificently and with great discipline, but still the final whistle would not sound and four minutes of extra time had elapsed when Conor O’Callaghan kicked a fine equalising point for Dromtarriffe.
Play continued on and Gabriels earned a free, over 40 metres out and on the left wing. Up stepped Sean Kelleher for the vital kick, and with great assurance drove the ball straight between the posts. Gabriels had to survive one more Dromtarriffe attack before the final whistle could be greeted with unbounded delight.
Gabriel Rangers: M Cronin 0-5 (2f); S Kelleher 0-4 (2f, 1 45); J O’Brien 0-3; E Goggin 0-3 (2f); C Moynihan 0-1.
Dromtarriffe: E Murphy 0-8 (4f, 1 45); D O’Keeffe 0-3; T Howard 0-2; C O’Callaghan 0-2 (1f).
Gabriel Rangers: Darren O’Mahony; David Roycroft, Pat Nolan, Jason Donegan; Liam Hegarty, Richard Moynihan, Danny McSweeney; Sasha Walden, Sean Kelleher; Chris Moynihan, Gerald O’Callaghan, Fionn Hurley; Mark Cronin, Eddie Goggin, Jordy O’Brien.
Sub: Kieran O’Callaghan for J Donegan (33).
Dromtarriffe: Dan Mann; Tomás Howard, Conor Cremin, Sean Howard; Eanna Murneagh, Conor O’Callaghan, Brian O’Keeffe; Adam Buckley, Seamus O’Sullivan; Evan Murphy, Denis Donoghue, Mark O’Connor; Daniel O’Keeffe, Shane Coleman, Cormac O’Mahony.
Subs: Michael Healy for C O’Mahony (ht), Darren O’Connor for E Murneagh , Jack Buckley for D Donoghue (56).
Referee: Alan O’Connor (Ballygarvan).