Daly delivers in spades for Donard/Glen
Injured Alan turns game in second half
DONARD-THE GLEN COOLKENNO 0-9 0-8
‘HE loves to put on a show,’ was how Donard-The Glen manager Mickey Daly described his second-half substitute Alan Daly after the final whistle in the Darcy Sand Intermediate Football Championship final, and what a show it was!
Listed as number 13 but with a shadow of doubt surrounding his fitness following an Achilles injury in the semi-final against Carnew, Daly was replaced in the starting team by club stalwart Brian Lennon. However, Donard-The Glen had little option but to call on their sharpshooter at half-time given that they had failed to score in the opening period when playing into the tricky wind that was blowing up the field in Aughrim towards the Rednagh Hill end.
Within 30 seconds Daly had Donard-The Glen off the mark to leave them a point behind Coolkenno at 0-2 to 0-1. Obviously, this wasn’t a high-scoring game but it was a county final between two committed and brave teams and despite the lack of scores it was a thrilling encounter from start to finish with lots of subplots to keep the blood flowing.
‘It was hard work. The wind, we’re not used to it blowing into the Rednagh Hill end. Nerves too, on both sides. Both sides were very nervous. If you had told either ourselves or Coolkenno that we would only score two points between us in that first half, would we believe you – probably not,’ was joint captain Conor Healy’s opening remarks when asked for his immediate thoughts on the game.
Healy was a class act all day for his team. He was always willing to make probing runs and was never found wanting when it came to defending. His intelligence on the ball was very impressive and he used his county experience to help steer his side to a wonderful victory. He was also very sporting in victory.
‘There was very little in it. It’s fantastic. The boys (Coolkenno) are absolute gentlemen. We have a great affinity towards them. We’re from very similar parts of
the world, similar struggles, similar positives. Look, it’s just fantastic to get over the line,’ he said.
Conor’s best friend is Alan ‘Froggy’ Daly, and nobody was happier or prouder of the attacker’s performance in that second half than the young lad who used to play with him in the sand pit in Donard as a child as the football matches were going on around them.
‘Outstanding! Outstanding. I’m just delighted for him. He’s had a tough year, personally, but he’s an absolute leader of a man, he really is. He’s fantastic. The stage out there was set for him. I can’t speak highly enough of him as a man. We’ve been friends, myself, Kev (Kevin Kealy) and Froggy are as tight as anything. I’m absolutely delighted for him, I really am. He was humming and hawing all week about whether he would come on or not. And then he came on like a demon. He’s probably in a bit of pain now. There’s no doubting Froggy’s talent. The man has a wand of a left foot, and he stood up there today as a man, as a person and I can’t be anything other than
proud,’ said Conor.
For Conor Healy this championship victory is about the community of Donard and The Glen, it’s about the people of the area who’ve had to endure a difficult spell.
‘It means everything. It really does. The scenes last night in Donard and Dunlavin with our Minors and our under-14 girls. I haven’t seen that many people in Donard for a long time. It’s fantastic. I’m delighted. It’s 20 years. We’ve lost a couple of stalwarts, as happens, life doesn’t go on for everybody. But it’s fantastic. With the year we’ve had, it has been difficult for people, and I’m just delighted to be able to put a smile on some of their faces,’ he added.
Mickey Daly’s men would record eight wides in the opening half of this game as they failed to come to terms with the unusual wind and the uncompromising Coolkenno defence.
The Donard-The Glen men were extremely fortunate not to concede an early goal when a poor ball was collected by Eamonn Rossiter out the field. He found Jim Cushe who lobbed in a bomb on top of Conor Walker. ‘Ducky’ broke it to Pauric Coleman who was put under pressure by Jack Grace and Coleman’s shot was half blocked by Brian Keogh in the Donard goal and the ball flew up and came back off the crossbar. Massive let off for Donard-The Glen, three minutes on the clock.
Coolkenno were guilty of being wasteful as well. Beautiful play out the field counted for naught in the opening quarter as they clocked up three wides and one shot dropped short to Brian Keogh. They also lost Donal Doyle to injury with Cormac Byrne replacing.
There were intriguing battles all over the field. Bob Keogh was picking up Brian Lennon in the half forwards, Donal Doyle was trying to keep a handle on Liam Monaghan while Shane Daly was being chaperoned by James Gregan and Willie Doyle was picking up Liam Mullin in the Donard-The Glen full-forward line.
Eamonn Rossiter was playing a deep role leaving Pauric Coleman and Conor Walker up front for Coolkenno on Clifford Grace and Eoin Kelly while the close marking of Kevin Osborne on Paddy Dalton never allowed the experienced Coolkenno man put any real stamp on the game.
Of Donard-The Glen’s eight firsthalf wides it was Colin Osborne’s at the end of the first quarter that provided the best chance of either a point or a goal. After patient build up play out around the 45, a break from Osborne allowed him play a one-two with the excellent Kevin Kealy whose return pass tore open the Coolkenno defence. However, Osborne’s snapped at his effort in front of the posts when he could have taken it on further.
Coolkenno would draw first blood after 18 minutes when a long Eamonn Rossiter ball was gathered by Conor Walker and the Donard-The Glen posts split with a stunner, lifting the Coolkenno crowd on a beautiful day in Aughrim.
After the first water break Coolkenno looked the more dangerous but could only register two wides until Pauric Coleman found his range with a point from a free after close to four minutes of possession football to leave it 0-2 to 0-0 at the break with Donard-The Glen needing urgent action ahead of the
That action came in the form of the introduction of Alan Daly. It was as though someone had flipped a switch. Suddenly Donard-The Glen were visibly energised. But they weren’t out of the woods yet.
A pointed free from Pauric Murray was followed by a class score from Eoghan Dolan, through which the majority of Coolkenno’s positive play came it should be said.
A foul on the superb Shane Daly by Jim Cushe allowed Liam Monaghan the chance for DonardThe Glen’s second and the threat of Alan Daly draw another foul which he pointed himself and suddenly Mickey Daly’s men with just a point behind with the wind at their backs.
Stevie Cushe sent in Niall Byrne for Bob Keogh after 40 minutes but Donard-The Glen were level through a wicked Alan Daly score after they had turned over possession and worked the ball through Kevin Osborne and John Hanbidge to the electrified Daly.
And they led after 14 of the second half. A ball from Colin Osborne to Daly and the DonardThe Glen crowd were on their feet. Ben Jackman was introduced for Niall Bailey.
Eamonn Rossiter leveled with a fine fisted score just before the water break but Coolkenno were in bother on a very warm day. Laurence Daly entered the fray for Donard-The Glen in place of Brian Lennon.
A wide apiece was followed by a Liam Monaghan converted free after Eoghan Dolan had been found guilty of throwing the ball while under savage Donard-The Glen pressure but substitute Cathal Rossiter would lift the Coolkenno spirits with a fine fisted score after Coolkenno had pounced on a sloppy pass around the middle.
Pauric Coleman showed pure class to return Coolkenno to the front from a free after a foul on Eoghan Dolan with 25 gone but we were neck and neck moments later when Liam Monaghan drilled over after a foul on Kevin Kealy following superb work by Conor
Healy. Coolkenno protested the decision passionately.
Donard-The Glen poushed ahead when Alan Daly floated over a screamer and the gap was two when he lashed over from close range after a scintillating run from deep by Shane Daly had released Liam Monaghan who picked out Daly in front of the posts.
Coolkenno came looking fro a goal. A high Pauric Coleman free was cleared by Kevin Kealy who ran half the pitch but rushed his pass to Alan Daly and Coolkenno overturned. Eamonn Rossiter slipped the shackles of Epoin Kelly and sent a missile down on top of Conor Doyle in the Donard-the Glen swuare but the lofty midfielder punched over rather than under to close the gap to one. Would they have time?
The answer was no. Referee Stephen Fagan sounded the final whistle on the kick-out and the Donard-The Glen players and supporters erupted in scenes of pure joy. People will say this was a poor game but I disagree. This was championship football. This was entertaining from start to finish, a rollercoaster from one end to the other and back again.
Two communities went to war in the best possible sense, with Donard-The Glen coming out on top. Coolkenno lost nothing in defeat, showing their endless courage and bravery right to the death.
Scores might have been in short supply but everything else you want from championship football was there in abundance. DONARD-THE GLEN: Brian Keogh; Clifford Grace, Eoin Kelly, Jack Grace; Kevin Osborne, Colin Osborne, Conor Healy; Sean Branagan, John Hanbidge; Shane Daly, Kevin Kealy, Liam Monaghan (0-3, 3f); Brian Lennon, Ray Halloran, Liam Mullin. Subs: Alan Daly (0-6, 2f) for L Mullin (H/T), Laurence Daly for B Lennon (47)
Damien Geraghty; Adam O’Neill, Robert Keogh, Willie Doyle; James Gregan, Jim Cushe, Donal Doyle; Conor Doyle (0-1), Niall Bailey; Paddy Dalton, Eoghan Dolan (0-1), John Gregan; Pauric Coleman (0-3, 3f), Eamonn Rossiter (0-1), Conor Walker (0-1). Subs: Niall Byrne (0-1) for R Keogh (40),
Stephen Fagan (Baltinglass)