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