Molloy inspires long overdue Mitchels victory
John Mitchels 0-12 Sean McDermotts 1-8
John Mitchels edged out an off-colour Sean McDermott’s by a single point in this year’s county final at Pairc na hEireann on Sunday September 29th. But Sean McDermotts will have nobody but themselves to blame as they eventually relinquished their grip on the title that they have monopolised in recent years to a more determined John Mitchels side. Nevertheless despite the fact that Sean McDermotts kicked a staggering total of 19 wides, nobody will begrudge the Mitchels a title that has eluded them for many years. And quite ironically Sean McDermotts were the team who also denied the winners for many of those years.
Macs begin defence of title well Sean McDermotts started the brighter and could have been 1-4 to 0-0 in front before Mitchells took the lead through Gareth Boyle kicked the opening score of the game with a fine effort from the right wing. Among the early missed chances for McDermotts was a penalty placed just wide of Andrew Doyle’s left hand post by Eamonn Hanlon. The trend of the game did not deviate too much from here until the final whistle with Sean McDermotts guilty of many errors which ultimately cost them the title. Much of the McDermotts early possession can also be attributed to the midfield domination of Andrew Willis with Paul Kavanagh a constant threat up front, winning every ball kicked his way. Meanwhile the Mitchels attack which included Boyle and the inspirational Enda Molloy foraged deep and carried the game to McDermotts, showing real leadership with their team not operating at their normal high standards while Paddy Donnelly was a commanding presence at full back with his team under pressure. James Loney’s unerring accuracy from placed balls was also crucial in a first half where Mitchels had less opportunities but still went in level on a score-line of 0-5 each.
So far so good for the winners There is no doubt Mitchels would have been the happier side at half time and although they hadn’t performed near anything like their best, they were still in the game. But in the second half, the intensiity was increased significantly and the game was played much more like a championship ‘tempo’ between these two great rivals. Emerging with far more purpose at the start of the second half the Mitchels opened up a six -point lead by the end if the third quarter. During that same period the holders also failed to raise a flag. After their early midfield domination Sean McDermotts were now very much playing second-fiddle to the Mitchels where Fergal Doyle was also driving his team forward from centre back. The hard working Chris Brough also restricted the Macs’ attacks. The Mitchels also began to direct their attacks to their dangerman, including former Roscommon Senior player, Paul Garvey, with more regularity. But Macs’ defender Niall Gilbride also restricted Garvey’s influence with some good marking but Garvey still showed his class scoring two sublime efforts in this burst, one an outrageous effort with the outside of his left boot from an almost impossible angle.
Macs lose Walsh to double yellow Trailing by six points entering the last quarter, matters went from bad to worse for Sean McDermotts when they were also reduced to 14 after Dominic Walsh was sent off for two yellow cards early in the second half. But that dismissal also served to galvanise the holders for one last effort. Indeed the depleted holders outscored the new champions by 1-3 to 0-1 to leave just the minimum between the teams entering the final minutes. Their goal was scored by substitute Joe Owens who smashed the ball to the roof of the net after making an untracked run in behind the Mitchels defence. But as McDermotts piled forward in search of an equaliser wayward shooting once again proved to be their undoing as a couple of chances came. However Mitchels held on for a hard earned but sweet victory over their greatest rivals. Final score: John Mitchels 0-12 Sean McDermotts 1-8.
Scorers: John Mitchels – James Loney 0-4(0-4)f, Paul Garvey 0-3(0-1)f, Enda Mulloy 0-2, Fergal Doyle, Ray O’Sullivan and Gareth Boyle 0-1 each. Sean McDermotts – Joe Owens 1-0, Paul Kavanagh 0-3(0-1)f, Anthony Moriarty 0-2(0-1)f, Joe McBrien, Michael Hayden and Padraig Quaid 0-1 each,
John Mitchels: Andrew Doyle; Cormac Behan, Paddy Donnelly, Barry Sharkey; Peter Healy, Fergal Doyle, Chris Brough; Chris McDermott, Pauric McCloskey; Gareth Boyle, Ray O’ Sullivan, James Loney; Declan Harkin, Paul Garvey (Capt), Enda Molloy. Subs: Ciaran Clifford, Steve Ahern, Sean Smith, Declan Gallagher Sean McDermotts: Macauley Felgate; Ian Dooley, Niall Gilbride, Liam Gilbride; Ryan Bennett, Dominic Walsh, Niall McCooey; Andrew Willis, Michael Hayden; Eamon Hanlon, Padraig Quaid, Joe McBrien; Paul Kavanagh, Anthony Moriarty, Conal Dowling Subs: Joseph Dowling, Joe Owens, Kieran Melody. Referee: S McLaughlin (Donegal).