The Argus - - SPORT -

THERE was fur­ther proof that the GAA tran­scends club bound­aries when Cian O Naraigh paid a warm trib­ute to the late Conor Mor­gan on Sun­day.

A Dun­dalk Gaels team man­aged by Conor’s dad Paul, came up ag­o­nis­ingly short against St Mary’s in the Ju­nior 2A Cham­pi­onship fi­nal cur­tain-raiser, but O Naraigh in­sisted that win­ning and los­ing foot­ball matches means very lit­tle in the greater scheme of things, and later some of O Naraigh’s Young Ire­lands col­leagues also paid trib­ute to Mor­gan on so­cial me­dia.

Re­flect­ing on the game it­self, O Naraigh was equally mag­nan­i­mous, in­sist­ing that Glyde Rangers would have been equally de­serv­ing vic­tors.

‘I feel for Glyde, if they had won that game it would have been just as de­served,’ he said be­fore the pre­sen­ta­tion of the tro­phy and man-of-the-match award, which he too ac­cepted. ‘They worked just as hard and they would have been wor­thy cham­pi­ons too.

‘But this is what cham­pi­onship foot­ball Pic­tures: Ken Fine­gan THE AR­GUS is about. In the first-half we felt like it could have went away from us, but the only score that mat­ters is the one up there at the end and thank­fully we were on the right side of that one.’

THE com­mon con­sen­sus go­ing into this sea­son was that Young Ire­lands were ‘too good’ for Ju­nior foot­ball, but O Naraigh in­sisted you still have to prove it.

‘As a club we would al­ways feel that in foot­ball you get what you de­serve and we cer­tainly got what we de­served in league and cham­pi­onship last sea­son. We went about putting that right this year and get­ting what we de­served the other way around, with de­ter­mi­na­tion and com­mit­ment to how we wanted to play foot­ball. Had the re­sult not gone our way we still would have felt we gained that from the sea­son and we’re just de­lighted for every­one.

‘You think about these type of days, but when it hap­pens it’s not like any­thing you ever imag­ined. Friends, Fam­ily, every­one who works hard at this club, the play­ers them­selves, we’re just de­lighted to win it for them.’

He ad­mit­ted that it wasn’t the per­for- mance they wanted or are ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing, but he hailed the grit and de­ter­mi­na­tion they showed to get the job done.

‘The first-half we felt like we weren’t get­ting into the gear we needed to be get­ting into and even in the sec­ond-half we weren’t re­ally do­ing the things we’d pride our­selves on like hav­ing dis­ci­pline in the tackle. That’s just the pres­sure of these games, but in the end we came out with the right re­sult and that was be­cause we had lead­ers all over the pitch.

‘Lead­ers aren’t just la­bels, they’re mo­ments and there were lead­ers all over the park to­day, with passes, pick­ing up ball and that score Der­mot Mone got be­fore half-time was mas­sive. It’s mo­ments like that that kept us go­ing.’

And they have to keep it all lit for an­other while yet as they pre­pare for a Le­in­ster cam­paign at the end of the month. And with the pres­sure off they’ll give it a good rat­tle.

None of us felt like tak­ing Tues­days and Thurs­day off just yet, but maybe we’ll take this Tues­day off and get back to it and give Le­in­ster a go,’ he added. ST Josephs again came through against the odds when they over­came a very strong Naomh Fionnbarra/Lannleire side in the LMFM Mi­nor B Cham­pi­onship fi­nal in Sta­ban­non.

The teams had met in Cluskey Park in the first round of the Cham­pi­onship when the Joes went down heav­ily on a score­line of 4-12 to 0-13.

In a pul­sat­ing high scor­ing fi­nal, that was a credit to both sides the Joes stuck to the game plan with the match turn­ing in a five-minute sec­ond-half spell when Jack Bar­ron was on hand to fin­ish two goals to the Fin­bars/Lannleire net.

On a per­fect evening for foot­ball Conor Neary opened the scor­ing for the Joes with a su­perb free kick from the right side­line. How­ever it was the Fin­bars/Lannleire team that set­tled best and their strong run­ning had the Joes un­der heavy pres­sure in the open­ing 20 min­utes. Four points in quick suc­ces­sion had the com­bi­na­tion side up by 4 to 1 in­side four min­utes.

The Joes hit back when the hard­work­ing Dy­lan McGrory won pos­ses­sion on the 45m line, Conor Neary’s su­perb long ball was taken in his stride by Ben Collier and although first at­tempt was saved by Matthew Reilly, he made no mis­take with the fol­low-up to hit the back of the net. The Fin­bars/Lannleire side led by Pierce Hawkins, Jack Cros­bie and Kil­lian Gre­gory dom­i­nated the scor­ing with Gre­gory on tar­get with three fine scores. The Joes found them­selves down by 0-8 to 1-2 on 23 min­utes with Con­all McCaul strik­ing from dis­tance.

The Joes saw out the half in fine style with Ben Collier strik­ing from a very nar­row an­gle on the right wing on 24 min­utes and then Josh Mackin in the Joes goal was quick off line to deny the com­bi­na­tion side a goal chance.

The Joes hit three points be­tween the 27th & 29th minute, a Con­all McCaul 30m free nar­rowed the gap to two. Aaron Nearys strong tack­ling de­liv­ered pos­ses­sion to Gabriel Bell who soloed through the cen­tre for an ex­cel­lent point. The Joes took the lead when a pa­tient build up ended with Ben Collier calmly strik­ing a fine point off his left foot. The sides went in level at the break with an­other fine long range point from the Fin­bars/ Lannleire side, half time 1-6to 0-9.

The qual­ity of the scor­ing from both sides was even bet­ter in the sec­ond half with nine points in the first 12 min­utes. The Joes hit the front when Jack Bar­ron split the posts in the first minute, how­ever the com­bi­na­tion side went ahead again with two in a row on 34 min­utes.

The sides went score for score Conor Ber­rill set­ting up Ben Collier for a Joes point and Kil­lian Gre­gory re­spond­ing im­me­di­ately with an equaliser. The Fin­bars/Lannleire long range scor­ing con­tin­ued with an­other fine point to edge them in front on 36 min­utes.

Ben Collier equalised for the Joes from a 13m free fol­low­ing a foul on Gabriel Bell and it was a su­perb point from Con­all McCaul that had the Joes ahead again on 40 min­utes. Fin­bars/Lannleire equalised be­fore Ben Collier re­stored the Joes lead when his shot went over of the right up­right, Joes 1-11, Fin­bars/Lannliere 0-13.

The Joes in­tro­duced fresh legs with Josh Todd and Cia­ran John­ston joined the at­tack and it was Todd who split the Fin­bars/Lannleire de­fence, his par­tially saved shot was bun­dled over the line by the quick think­ing Jack Bar­ron on 43 min­utes. The Fin­bars/Lannleire side cut the mar­gin to three with a sec­ond ef­fort com­ing back off the cross bar.

On 48 min­utes the ever dan­ger­ous Ben Collier cut-in from the right and his par­ried shot was fin­ished to the net by Jack Bar­ron to put the Joes six up, 3-11 to 0-14. The Fin­bars/Lannleire side now needed a goal but the Joes de­fence held firm, the sides con­tin­ued to ex­change scores with Ben Collier point­ing a 13m free and Conor Neary do­ing like­wise from 20me­tres to leave the score­line Joes 3-13, Fin­bars/Lannleire 0-17 on 54 min­utes.

On 58 min­utes Conor Ber­rill’s ef­forts were re­warded when he pointed fol­low­ing a strong run, a score that was can­celled out a minute later, Joes 3-14, Fin­bars/ Lannleire 0-18. Fin­bars/Lannleire re­sponded with a point from a free be­fore Conal McCaul show com­po­sure to land an­other su­perb point for the Joes.

ST JOSEPH’S: Josh Mackin, Kyle McQuil­lan, Kevin Camp­bell, Conor Casey, Michael Staunton 0-3, Paul Coyne, Adam Stew­art, Gabriel Bell 0-1, Conor Neary 0-3 (2f), Oran McPar­land, Con­all McCaul 0-3 (2f), Dy­lan McGrory, Jack Bar­ron 2-1, Conor Ber­rill 0-1, Ben Collier 1-6 (2f), Aaron Neary, Josh todd, Cia­ran John­ston, Con­nor Marmion, Tur­lough McGeeney, Donal John­ston, Eric Shields, Rory Staunton, Tadgh Corr.

NAOMH FIONBARRA/LANNLEIRE: Matthew O’Reilly, Luke Kennedy, Ruairi Crofts, Aaron McAr­dle, Kalum Re­gan, Ro­nan Kelly, C J Corentin, Pierce Hawkins, Josh Cros­bie, Thomas McCreesh, Kil­lian Gre­gory, Caoimhin Ma­her, Adam Han­ratty, Jack Maguire, Cia­ran Mackey.

Cian O Naraigh holds the Christy Bellew Cup aloft.

Conor Neary ac­cepts the cup from Ea­mon Doyle and Kevin Gor­don.

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