Gabriels looking forward to Munster junior football semi-final
Gabriel Rangers 2-11
TOM LYONS REPORTS
CORK county junior football champions Gabriel Rangers advanced to the Munster semi-final after a comprehensive win over Clare champions Meelick in the quarter-final last Sunday in Clonakilty.
A bitterly cold north wind, straight down the pitch, dominated this encounter and in their first venture in a Munster championship, Gabriels took a while to settle against a physically imposing Clare fifteen.
In fact, with the wind to their backs, Meelick had the first two points in the opening seven minutes but, amazingly, they weren’t to score again for the remainder of the game as, following a typical Mark Cronin goal in the 21st minute, Gabriels took complete control of the game. They led by two points at the break but the second half was one-way traffic, with an early Eddie Goggin goal setting the trend.
‘The opening ten minutes were very physical, they were a tough team,’ explained Gabriels’ captain Mark Cronin.
‘The wind was very strong and hard to cope with. We trained here on Monday and it was windy that day too, so we knew what to expect. We had decided to play against the wind if we won the toss but we played poorly in the first quarter.
‘The goal settled us – that was a Ballydehob FC special. I was happy with it. I knew the full back was very tight on Eddie (Goggin), he was a good footballer, but when the ball went in between them following a good move, I expected it to break and it came straight to me. I just hit it first-time and it ended in the net.
‘We did miss a couple of good chances after that and we were disappointed with some of our ball handing under pressure in the first half, but we got it all right in the second half.’
Meelick dominated the early exchanges with the strong wind to their backs, and full forward Joe Duffy kicked two points.
Luckily for Gabriels, their defence – superbly led by Kieran O’Callaghan, Liam Hegarty, Richard Moynihan and Pat Nolan – soon got to grips with the Meelick forwards and with Stephen O’Mahony beginning to emerge as the top midfielder, the Schull/Ballydehob men began to show the form that had swept them through the county championship. Gabriels finally opened their account in the 20th minute when Sean Kelleher’s shot was tipped spectacularly over the bar by goalkeeper David Moloney.
A minute later the most important score of the game arrived when a through ball from the highly impressive Chris Moynihan broke between Eddie Goggin and the full back, and Mark Cronin showed great anticipation when controlling the ball and sliding it home along the ground, soccer-style.
From here to half time there was plenty endeavour from both sides but no further scores. It was the West Cork men in front by 1-1 to 0-2 at the interval.
Assisted by the strong wind in the second half, Gabriels quickly set about putting the game to bed after the break. Liam Hegarty burst forward to kick a fine point and in the 33rd minute, while Eddie Goggin, rampant in the second half, finished a great move with a real opportunist goal to maintain his amazing goal-scoring exploits all through the championship.
Two clear goals in front, 2-2 to 0-2, there was little danger of Gabriels being overhauled subsequently, and Meelick’s cause wasn’t helped when midfielder Kevin Hartnett received a second yellow card in the 34th minute. Stephen O’Mahony kicked over a huge free with the wind and Mark Cronin pointed to leave Gabriels in front by 2-4 to 0-2 at the three-quarter stage.
The final quarter produced a succession of Gabriels’ points from Eric O’Brien, Sean Kelleher, Eddie Goggin (2), Liam Hegarty, Mark Cronin and Ronan Roycroft, much to the delight of the large Gabriel following.
The final score in a one-sided contest was 2-11 to 0-2 and Clon will again be the venue for Gabriels’ semi-final game against the Tipperary champions, Clonoulty-Rossmore, on Sunday, November 20th.
‘Our defence was excellent again today,’ said Mark Cronin.
‘We have been criticised in the past for our poor defending but there has been a huge improvement this season. The forwards have always been there but midfield and the defence have improved greatly.
‘Meelick were a very physical, strong team but they couldn’t match the football played by our lads today. A couple of months ago the aim was the West Cork title and then it was our first county title. Now we have got over the first round of the Munster and we will reset our target again. Having got this far, we want to go as far as we can now.
‘Next up will be the Tipperary champions in the semi-final and we know that is going to be a really tough game. Football in Tipp is very strong at the moment.’
Gabriel Rangers: Mark Cronin, Eddie Goggin 1-2 each; Sean Kelleher, Liam Hegarty 0-2 each; Ronan Roycroft, Stephen O’Mahony (1f) 0-1 each.
Meelick: Joe Duffy 0-2 (1f).
Gabriel Rangers: Darren O’Mahony; Kieran O’Callaghan, Cathal Newman, Jason Donegan; Pat Nolan, Richard Moynihan, Liam Hegarty; Donal O’Sullivan, Stephen O’Mahony; Fionn Hurley, Chris Moynihan, Eric O’Brien; Mark Cronin, Eddie Goggin, Sean Kelleher.
Subs used: Sean Evans for C Moynihan (47), Paudie Hegarty for F Hurley (50), Ronan Roycroft for P Nolan (52), David Roycroft for Cathal Newman (52), Cian Hurley for S Kelleher (55).
Meelick: David Moloney; Andy White, Peter Reidy, Stephen Hayes; Killian Fennessy, Sean Cooney, Dara Quinn; Sean O’Connor, Kevin Hartnett; Luke Davis, Adam Sherlock, James Hastings; Oisín O’Brien, Roy Duffy, Garrett Kennedy.
Subs used: Jamie O’Sullivan for L Davis (ht), Bobby Sherlock for A Sherlock (ht), Cian Killeen for R Duffy (34), Gary Kennedy for D Quinn (46), Colin Ryan for S Cooney (51), Frankie Hartnett for O O’Brien (black card, 56).
Referee: Sean Joy (Kerry).