Mo­ments that de­fined the Cham­pi­onship sum­mer

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - ALL-IRELAND PREVIEW | FOOTBALL FINAL - Malachy Clerkin

1 PADDY DURCAN’s point v Kerry All-Ire­land semi-fi­nal, Croke Park, Au­gust 20th Mayo have five min­utes of in­jury-time to find an equaliser – the only sur­prise is prob­a­bly that they didn’t find a win­ner too. Con­sum­mate pa­tience from Donie Vaughan sent up Durcan for a re­turn pass and one of Mayo’s most re­li­able shoot­ers did the busi­ness. 2 CON O’CAL­LAGHAN’s goal v Ty­rone All-Ire­land semi-fi­nal, Croke Park, Au­gust 27th This was sup­posed to be dif­fer­ent. But then it was just the same. Ty­rone gave the ball away in mid­field and a quick kick-pass left O’Cal­laghan with the Hill beck­on­ing him home. Dublin’s new star­let needed only one side­step and a sight of goal and that was that. 3 AI­DAN O’SHEA picks up Kieran Don­aghy All-Ire­land semi-fi­nal, Croke Park, Au­gust 20th The Mayo News came up with five dif­fer­ent mark­ers for Don­aghy in the build-up and none of them were Ai­dan O’Shea. So when he went in full back af­ter five min­utes, the hum around the ground was pal­pa­ble. He prob­a­bly lost the bat­tle; the war was another story. 4 DIARMUID CON­NOLLY’s push Le­in­ster SFC, Port­laoise, June 17th Con­nolly was man­han­dled by three Car­low play­ers on the side­line and when the call went against him, he pushed lines­man Ciarán Brana­gan in the shoul­der. And so be­gan the sum­mer’s most tire­some cir­cus. Push­gate, Spil­lanegate, CCCC­gate, 12-week-gate. 5 JAMIE CLARKE’s goal v Tip­per­ary All-Ire­land SFC qual­i­fier, Thurles, July 15th Only the ge­niuses can do it like this. Ar­magh were a point up in the 69th minute and this was the most el­e­gant kill­shot of the year. Left alone in front of goal, he dropped the ball onto his left foot, nur­dled it around the on­rush­ing Tipp keeper and side­footed home. 6 MAYO’S THREE GOALS in five min­utes v Roscom­mon All-Ire­land quar­ter-fi­nal re­play, Croke Park, Au­gust 7th End of the road for the Rossies, and maybe the true start of it for Mayo. This was the day they said enough was enough. Roscom­mon were blitzed. Goals from McLough­lin, Mo­ran (above) and Hig­gins made Mayo’s point em­phat­i­cally. 7 KIERAN DON­AGHY’s goal v Gal­way All-Ire­land quar­ter-fi­nal, Croke Park, July 30th Gal­way had a plan for Don­aghy – he treated them like er­rand boys sent by gro­cery clerks to col­lect a bill. A long ball in high found his big white gloves, marker flail­ing, sweeper floun­der­ing. Just for kicks, he turned in­side on his left foot and roofed the fin­ish. 8 BRIAN STACK’s goal v Gal­way Con­nacht fi­nal, Pearse Sta­dium, July 9th Roscom­mon were play­ing with a six-point lead into what felt like a six-point wind. Stack pounced on to a Gal­way kick-out 50 me­tres out, took the mark, ig­nored the whis­tle and made for goal, fin­ish­ing to the bot­tom left cor­ner. Game, set, Con­nacht ti­tle. 9 CONOR LOF­TUS’s goal v Derry All-Ire­land SFC qual­i­fier, Castle­bar, July 1st Mayo Were Gone, Part One. Derry were vis­i­bly tir­ing but they still had a point lead as the clock ticked 70. This was a bril­liant goal, worked the length of the pitch through pre­cise pass­ing. Cil­lian O’Con­nor dished off the last one for Lof­tus to fin­ish with aplomb. 10 ANDY MO­RAN’s goal v Kerry All-Ire­land semi-fi­nal re­play, Croke Park, Au­gust 26th The mo­ment at which Mayo be­came a dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion. Five points up at half-time, the nor­mal course of events would have seen a Kerry come­back. Mo­ran was hav­ing none of it, catch­ing high and trad­ing a one-two with Cil­lian O’Con­nor to nail down the lid. 11 BREN­DAN MUR­PHY’s goal v Wex­ford Le­in­ster SFC, Dr Cullen Park, May 21st Car­low hadn’t won a Le­in­ster game since 2011 and now Wex­ford were within a point in in­jury-time. Dar­ragh Fo­ley caught a kick-out and fed Mur­phy on the Wex­ford 45. Tak­ing the handy point would have sealed it. Mur­phy de­cided a goal would seal it bet­ter. Rap­ture. 12 CONNAIRE HAR­RI­SON’s first point v Mon­aghan Ul­ster semi-fi­nal, Ar­magh, June 24th Har­ri­son was a bru­tal­is­ing force of na­ture all night for Down, giv­ing Drew Wylie a rare but sound roast­ing. His first point was Down’s first point, a ram­pag­ing full-for­ward’s rebel yell of a score and Down kicked on from there to their first Ul­ster fi­nal since 2012. 13 JOHNNY HEANEY dou­ble save v Mayo Con­nacht semi-fi­nal, June 11th, Pearse Sta­dium Six min­utes to go, with Gal­way three ahead. Mayo sub Danny Kirby stripped goal­keeper Ruairí Lavelle and faced an empty net. From nowhere, Johnny Heaney lunged to first block Kirby’s shot and then Diarmuid O’Con­nor’s fol­low-up. Su­per­hero stuff to seal the win. 14 CIARÁN MURTAGH goal v Mayo All-Ire­land quar­ter-fi­nal, Croke Park, July 30th Even al­low­ing for the Con­nacht ti­tle, this was the high point of Roscom­mon’s year. Just 11 min­utes gone against their old op­pres­sors and Murtagh staked in be­hind and nailed a low fin­ish at David Clarke’s near post. Rossies 2-2 Mayo 0-1. 15 LEE KEE­GAN goal v Roscom­mon All-Ire­land quar­ter-fi­nal, Croke Park, July 30th All the Rossies had to do was catch the kick-out. Or if they couldn’t, they had to foul the man who did. Or if they couldn’t they had to mind Lee Kee­gan. Or if they couldn’t, they had to go meet him. They did none of these. Mayo were back in it within 40 sec­onds. 16 SEÁN POWTER goal v Mayo All-Ire­land SFC qual­i­fier, Lim­er­ick, July 22nd Goal of the year con­tender. Mayo were eas­ing to a sleepy win be­fore Powter stuck as de­fi­ant a goal as you’ll ever see. Col­lect­ing in mid­field, he kept run­ning, dodg­ing and bulling on, turn­ing Keith Hig­gins in­side out and beat­ing David Clarke from 15 me­tres. 17 ETHAN RAFFERTY point v Kil­dare All-Ire­land SFC qual­i­fier, Croke Park, July 29th This is how you make amends. Rafferty had come off the bench and al­most im­me­di­ately given away two art­less frees to keep Kil­dare in the game. This point, a shall-not-yield ef­fort that kissed the sky on its way down, ush­ered them off the premises. 18 SEÁN CA­VANAGH’s last game All-Ire­land semi-fi­nal, Croke Park, Au­gust 13th No fairy­tales. Ca­vanagh’s 89th and last game in a Ty­rone jersey ended af­ter 55 min­utes with the game long dead. He jogged off into re­tire­ment, hold­ing the all-time record for ap­pear­ances by an out­field player. A queue of Dubs lined up af­ter­wards to pay their re­spects. 19 LUKE CON­NOLLY’s goal v Tip­per­ary Mun­ster semi-fi­nal, Páirc Uí Rinn, June 10th Conor Sweeney’s goal in the 69th minute put Tipp 1-9 to 0-10 ahead and it looked like Cork were done. From the kick-out, four rat-a-tat passes moved the ball from mid­field to the edge of the square where Con­nolly palmed home. Tipp had led for ex­actly 30 sec­onds. 20 ROB­BIE KIELY goal v Ca­van All-Ire­land SFC qual­i­fier, Br­effni Park, July 8th With­out five of their 2016 team, Tip­per­ary came from six points down away from home and pro­duced one of the ballsi­est dis­plays of the year. Capped off by this goal from Kiely eight min­utes from time, smashed home from the edge of the large square. 21 PETER HARTE’s point v Done­gal Ul­ster semi-fi­nal, Clones, June 18th This was ac­tu­ally still quite a close game in the 25th minute. The flood­gates were jim­mied open when Harte dummy-soloed out­side one tackle, jinked in­side another, turned back on him­self to evade a third and swung a rare right-footed score as a fourth closed in. Sub­lime. 22 DUBLIN’s two goals in a minute v Kil­dare Le­in­ster fi­nal, Croke Park, June 25th This was a game and then it wasn’t a game. Kil­dare started well and even went ahead but then James McCarthy got in for one goal and Dean rock got in for another and the awe­some might of the Dublin ma­chine milled them to fine flour. 23 CATHAL MCNALLY’s fast start v Meath Le­in­ster semi-fi­nal, Tul­lam­ore, June 17th Sup­posed to be a clash of equals but McNally started at a tempo no­body in a Meath jersey could match. He had 1-3 from play on the board in­side the open­ing 18 min­utes. The ques­tion of who is Le­in­ster’s sec­ond team was an­swered quicker than any­one en­vi­sioned. 24 WATER­FORD give Cork a scare Mun­ster SFC, Fra­her Field, May 27th Water­ford haven’t beaten Cork since 1960 and haven’t fin­ished within dou­ble­fig­ures since 1972. Yet here they were, level in in­jury-time with Cork down to 14 men. Late, late points from Paul Ker­ri­gan and Colm O’Neill saw the Rebels home. But only just. 25 RO­NAN O’NEILL’s lob v Down Ul­ster fi­nal, Clones, July 16th The game was long over and O’Neill had al­ready scored a goal with his first. But none of that di­min­ishes the del­i­cate class of his sec­ond goal. Hav­ing stolen in be­hind the Down cover, he lobbed Michael Cun­ning­ham with a per­fect par­a­bola. 26 PATRICK McBREARTY point v Meath All-Ire­land SFC qual­i­fier, Na­van, July 8th One of those to-and-fro humdingers that the qual­i­fiers can throw up. Michael Mur­phy kept Done­gal in credit through­out but it was McBrearty who came up with the fist­ful of dol­lars in the end. In­jury-time, draw game, McBrearty landed a bomb from 50 me­tres. 27 FINTAN KELLY goal v Car­low All-Ire­land SFC qual­i­fier, Dr Cullen Park, July 15th Car­low’s long­est sum­mer fi­nally ended but they gave Mon­aghan a huge fright. Lead­ing with 10 to go, they were only point down in the 66th minute. Kelly fin­ished them off, pad­ding home at the end of a fine run­ning move. Mon­aghan ran to the bus, relieved. 28 DIARMUID O’CON­NOR’s point v Cork All-Ire­land SFC qual­i­fier, Lim­er­ick, July 22nd Mayo were gone, Part Two. Hav­ing res­cued the draw, Cork were the ones who kicked on in ex­tra-time. But Mayo don’t fiz­zle out. This was the go-ahead score, O’Con­nor nail­ing it with the out­side of his right boot from 40 me­tres on an an­gle. The place went dizzy. 29 JOHNNY HEANEY goal v Done­gal All-Ire­land SFC qual­i­fier, Sligo, July 22nd Done­gal were ac­tu­ally lead­ing here af­ter the open­ing quar­ter. But then Gal­way outscored them 3-5 to 0-1 for the rest of the first half, start­ing with Heaney palm­ing home this ef­fort with the Done­gal back­line nowhere. It was to be­come a jar­ringly fa­mil­iar sight. 30 CONOR McMANUS point v Down All-Ire­land SFC qual­i­fier, Croke Park, July 29th It had been a frus­trat­ing cham­pi­onship pretty much all the way through for McManus but oc­ca­sion­ally he was able to wrig­gle free. This was his best score all year, a high-step­ping, twirling, duck-n-move run across the Down de­fence and a soar­ing fin­ish.

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