Glenealy march on
Super second half sees defending champions through
DEFENDING champions Glenealy secured their passage to another county final with victory over St Pat’s in the classic game of two halves in Joule Park Aughrim on Sunday afternoon last.
With the wind at their backs in the second half and shooting towards the dressing room end, Glenealy put the boot down through goals from Jonathan O’Neill Jnr and Gavin Weir that served to knock the stuffing out of Michael Neary’s charges who exit the championship at the same stage as last season when they fell to Bray in the last four.
Guided by the leadership qualities of Jonathan O’Neill Snr at midfield who also chipped in with six valuable points and with Danny Staunton curtailing the influence of Andy O’Brien at full-back, Garry Laffan’s men turned around 2-4 to 0-4 half-time deficit after Pat’s had bagged two goals that will give the Glenealy defence nightmares as they prepare for their county final battle with James Hickey’s Carnew.
St Pat’s welcomed back goalkeeper Eoghan O’Mahoney for this pivotal clash and with a heavily strapped leg the netminder went on to have a superb game between the sticks. Glenealy were able to enjoy the defensive qualities of Warren Kavanagh at six and had the comfort of knowing that Leighton Glynn, Tommy Doyle, John Manley and Ruadhri O’Neill were on the bench among others should they have been required in the second half.
It was a changed Pat’s outfit from this time last year. O’Mahoney replaced James ‘Jimzer’ O’Brien in the goals. The corner-back pairing of Michael Connors, who was now at half-back from where he had a fine game, and Andrew Conway, who was on the bench, were replaced by Dale Quinn and George O’Brien.
Niall Hanton had started at half-back against Bray last year but was lined out at half-forward on Sunday and while his half-back colleague Shane Doyle was on the bench wearing 27. They were replaced by Eddie Kelly and the aforementioned Michael Connors who stood either side of Gerry Connors.
Ricky Quinn began last season’s epic struggle with Bray at midfield but found himself on the bench on Sunday with Christy Moorehouse and Chris Kavanagh lining out in the middle.
The half-forward line was radically altered. Niall Hanton, Wayne Farrell and Patrick Murphy replaced John ‘Dee’ O’Brien (sub), Terry Healy (not present) and Eddie Kelly (half backs).
The only line that was unchanged from last season was the full-forward line where Andy O’Brien, George ‘Bee’ O’Brien and James ‘Bonner’ O’Brien prowled.
Things were looking very bright for Pat’s in the opening half. A goal off the hand of Andy O’Brien after five minutes for what was the opening score of the game was a massive boost.
It was a stop-start kind of game that rarely opened up into an enjoyable hurling match.
There were 36 frees awarded by referee John Keenan who felt the wrath of both sidelines at times over the course of this games for decision both managers felt should have gone their way. Of the 36 frees, Pat’s were awarded 23 while Glenealy attracted 13.
Pat’s would prove the less wasteful of the two sides, firing wide seven times. Glenealy would prove wayward on nine occasions.
A key battle was that of Danny Staunton and Andy O’Brien with Staunton not letting the attacker out of his sight in that opening half with the St Pat’s contingent believing that the Glenealy fullback might have crossed the line on more than one occasion.
The opening 12 minutes were owned by Pat’s. After Andy’s fortuitous goal he followed up with a pointed free for a foul by Jonathan O’Neill Snr that earned him an early yellow card.
A high tackle on Jonathan O’Neill Jnr by Chris Kavanagh provided ‘Bosco’ Snr with a chance from a free and the Glenealy legend didn’t let his side down.
Pat’s struck back and struck back hard. A long free from the impressive Michael Connors was allowed drift all the way to the back of the Glenealy net in a moment of horror for Cian Staunton and a fine score from open play from Christy Moorehouse drove Pat’s to a 2-2 to 0-1 lead with a very strong wind at their backs in the first half.
‘Bosco’ reduced the arrears with a pointed free, but Andy hit back after a foul on Patrick Murphy and then Glenealy were awarded a penalty for a foul on Gavin Weir with 20 minutes on the clock.
The responsibility fell to Jonathan O’Neill Snr but his wicked shot was saved superbly by Eoghan O’Mahoney and Michael Connors was quickest to react to clear the danger. Was this to be Pat’s day?
Glenealy were hungry for goals but O’Mahoney was in excellent form after a long layoff. He produced the goods again moments later when Jonathan O’Neill Jnr fired in a shot only to see the Pat’s netminder block it out for a 65 which was swung over by O’Neill Snr, 2-3 to 0-3.
George ‘Bee’ O’Brien added Pat’s’ last score of the first half and ‘Bosco’ flicked over from play to leave the half-time score reading 2-4 to 0-4 to Pat’s with Glenealy preparing to enjoy the benefits of that wind in the second half.
Whatever Garry Laffan said at the break worked a treat because the defending champions came out a different side in the second half.
Gary Hughes opened the scoring with a point before ‘Bosco’ Snr swung over a free and then a 65 after O’Neill Jnr had brought yet another fantastic save out of O’Mahoney in the Pat’s goal.
The first Glenealy goal arrived after 36 minutes and it was a father and son combination with ‘Bosco’ Snr sending in a lovely ball for Junior to rifle home to level the scores and get the recovery fully underway.
Gavin Weir fired over fired over for the lead and then drew a save from O’Mahoney before Garry Laffan sent in Enan Glynn for Gary Hughes after 41 minutes.
A foul by Staunton on Andy O’Brien drew a free but the sharp-shooter blazed wide and the county star would prove wayward moments after Alan Driver split the posts at the other end and just before Enan Glynn brought the best out of Eoghan O’Mahoney as Pat’s sent in Jim O’Brien for Gerry Connors.
The writing was on the wall after 47 minutes when Alan Driver turned provider for Gavin Weir who fired past O’Mahoney to put five between the teams.
Michael Neary had moved Andy O’Brien out the field in a bid to win primary possession around the middle, but it failed to work as Glenealy proved too sharp and too clever.
Jim O’Brien pointed a free for what was Pat’s’ first score of the second half after 48 minutes, just before Wayne O’Gorman was introduced for Glenealy.
George ‘Bee’ O’Brien reduced the lead to three points but a poor ball out of their defence by Pat’s allowed Garry Byrne all the time in the world to fire over and when Jonathan O’Neill Jnr rifled home after 54 the deed was as good as done at 2-11 to 2-6.
Jim O’Brien would complete the Pat’s scoring on what was a massively disappointing day for Michael Neary’s men. A long ball from Danny Staunton to Alan Driver would see the captain split the posts for the last score of the day.
Glenealy secure their place in the county final. They want more of the same after last year’s epic Leinster voyage. They’ll have to negotiate a way past Carnew first, though. Expect a serious battled in the decider.
Scorers – Glenealy: Jonathan O’Neill Snr 0-6 (4f, 1 65), Gavin Weir 1-1, Jonathan O’Neill Jnr 1-1, Gary Hughes 0-1 (f), Alan Driver 0-2, Garry Byrne 0-1.
St Patrick’s: Andy O’Brien 1-2 (2f), Jim O’Brien 0-2 I1f), George ‘Bee’ O’Brien 0-2 (1f), Christy Moorehouse 0-1, Michael Connors 1-0 (f).
Glenealy: Cian Staunton; Emmet Byrne, Danny Staunton, Ronan Manley; Garry Byrne, Warren Kavanagh, Joe Drive Jnr; Jonathan O’Neill Snr, Robert Byrne; Jamie Byrne, Gary Hughes, Paul O’Brien; Jonathan O’Neill Jnr, Alan Driver, Gavin Weir. Subs:
St Patrick’s: Eoghan O’Mahoney; Dale Quinn, John Connors, George O’Brien; Eddie Kelly, Gerry Connors, Michael Connors; Christy Moorehouse, Chris Kavanagh; Niall Hanton, Wayne Farrell, Patrick Murphy; George ‘Bee’ O’Brien, Andy O’Brien, James ‘Bonner’ O’Brien. Subs:
Referee: John Keenan (Aughrim)
Andy O’Brien comes under pressure from Glenealy’s Danny Staunton in the SHC semi-final in Joule Park Aughrim.
Glenealy’s Paul O’Brien gets his shot away as Gerry Connors closes in.
Glenealy’s Gary Hughes watches as Eoghan O’Mahoney pulls off one a number of superb saves.