Tourlestrane kept go­ing to the fi­nal whis­tle as the re­sult doesn’t tell the game’s true story

The Sligo Champion - - SPORT - With Tommy Breheny

AF­TER a brave bat­tle against Castle­bar Mitchels, Tourlestrane’s year has come to an end in a game played in heavy con­di­tions at MacHale Park. It was a dour game of foot­ball with both teams cau­tious in their ap­proach with more em­pha­sis on de­fence than at­tack. For long parts of this game Tourlestrane were the bet­ter team work­ing their sys­tem well with ex­cel­lent dis­ci­pline at times in their tack­ling, hunger and de­sire turn­ing over Castle­bar reg­u­larly and then counter at­tack­ing at pace pick­ing off three won­der­ful scores from play through Liam Gaughan, Johnny Kelly and Alan Dunne, in ad­di­tion to some ex­cel­lent free tak­ing from Brian Egan from the ground. Tourlestrane had the ben­e­fit of a very strong wind in the first half and would have been dis­ap­pointed to go in level at half time af­ter lead­ing for long pe­ri­ods. While Castle­bar had a lot of pos­ses­sion of the ball dur­ing the first half they strug­gled to break down a very well or­gan­ised de­fen­sive struc­ture that Tourlestrane had in place and re­lied on free kicks to stay in the game where David Sten­son was ex­tremely re­li­able to keep the score board tick­ing over for them. It was al­ways go­ing to be a tall or­der in the sec­ond half for Tourlestrane play­ing against a strong wind on the home pitch of their op­po­nents but they took the lead again with the first point of the sec­ond half through an­other Brian Egan free but wouldn’t score again for 27 min­utes even though they re­mained very much in the game up to eight min­utes to go when cur­tail­ing Castle­bar to a few points, as it wasn’t un­til the tenth minute of the sec­ond half that they matched that Egan point to go level again. If Brian Egan hit some su­perb frees in the first half Neil Dou­glas out­did him with three ex­cep­tional long-range scores off the ground to keep Castle­bar in the as­cen­dency in the sec­ond pe­riod. The big mo­ment of the sec­ond half came with eight min­utes re­main­ing where Tourlestrane af­ter emp­ty­ing the bench were push­ing hard but un­for­tu­nately turned over pos­ses­sion in an at­tack­ing po­si­tion which Castle­bar pos­si­bly in their only de­ci­sive counter at­tack of the day ran the pitch and goaled through the Man of Match Danny Kirby. That all but sealed the game al­though Tourlestrane kept go­ing to the fi­nal whis­tle in a game where the fi­nal re­sult doesn’t tell the true story of the game where they matched their op­po­nents for the ma­jor­ity of the game with Castle­bar only tak­ing con­trol with ten min­utes re­main­ing. For Tourlestrane they end 2017 as County Cham­pi­ons again along with the league ti­tle and Leo Kenny Con­nacht league tro­phy which is im­pres­sive in most peo­ple’s lan­guage but that Con­nacht Fi­nal ap­pear­ance still eludes them, how­ever they will be happy that they played to their abil­ity for the most part of last Sun­day’s game and if a goal chance early in the sec­ond half went in as op­posed to just wide on the left it could have been a dif­fer­ent re­sult. Castle­bar Mitchells on the other hand have reached their third Con­nacht fi­nal in 5 years and will play Co­rofin in a re­peat of the 2015 fi­nal af­ter over­com­ing St Brigid’s of Roscom­mon af­ter ex­tra time. If they are to go any fur­ther they will need to im­prove con­sid­er­ably as Co­rofin are a qual­ity side hav­ing reached their 7th Con­nacht fi­nal in 12 cam­paigns which speaks for it­self. Castle­bar will need to get more out of the likes of Pa­trick Dur­can who has been very sub­dued in the last two games against Mo­hill and Tourlestrane even look­ing dis­in­ter­ested or just very tired af­ter a record num­ber of games for both Mayo and Castle­bar in suc­ces­sive weeks in 2017. I feel Castle­bar just don’t have enough up front to de­feat a team of Co­rofin’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties who will feel with the likes of St Vin­cent’s now gone from the cham­pi­onship that an All-Ire­land ti­tle is within their grasp.

Tourlestrane’s Noel Gaughan races for pos­ses­sion with James Dur­can of Castle­bar Mitchels.

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