Tourlestrane minors fall short after epic year
CONNACHT MINOR “B” CLUB FINAL
MOUNTBELLEW/MOYLOUGH 0-9 TOURLESTRANE 0-7
AFTER a year in which their swashbuckling attacking unit laid waste to all opponents, racking up an average of almost 24 points per game in 7 championship matches inside and outside Sligo, Tourlestrane fell narrowly short of adding a Connacht title to their domestic success last Friday night when they fell two points short against Galway side Mountbellew-Moylough at the Connacht Centre of Excellence in Bekan.
For long stretches of the game, it looked as if Neil Egan’s troops might have come down on the right side of the result, as they made reasonable inroads when playing into the teeth of a fiercely strong breeze in the first half and looked reasonably well poised to go on and win when they cut the deficit to just two points with well over a quarter of the game to go.
The loss of Tom Corcoran to a second yellow card with 44 minutes on the clock proved to be a fatal blow to their chances however, as they went nearly twenty minutes without scoring and allowed Mountbellew-Moylough to triumph, despite adding just a solitary point to their total in the entire second half.
When the two sides lined up, it looked as if physical strength and power was likely to be the trump card for the East Galway club.
They appeared to be taller and broader in almost every outfield position, but instead they fell 0-2 to 0-1 down due to some energetic play from Tourlestrane, who carried the ball very effectively at the Mountbellew-Moylough goal.
Eoin Walsh was a real livewire at centre forward, while Mark Lundy kicked two good frees to help the South Sligo club into an early 0-2 to 0-1 lead.
Even at 0-4 to 0-3 behind after 20 minutes, their third score a magnificent strike from Stephen Clarke that was set up by Jack Walsh, few would have imagined Mountbellew-Moylough getting back into the contest without the help of a goal or two.
The Galway side did hit a rich vein of form before the break, adding four points (three from frees) to make it 0-8 to 0-3 at half time, but the widely-held view was that Mountbellew-Moylough would need every one of those and more to hold on against a more cohesive and controlled Tourlestrane outfit. The absence of a long ball game was going to be a handicap in the second half, but the error count read very well from a green and gold perspective, as they pressured Mount- bellew-Moylough into turning over the ball time and time again, while retaining possession very well themselves.
Yet crucially, though Tourlestrane kicked the first two points immediately after half time and added a third from Mark Lundy in the 42nd minute, Mountbellew-Moylough started to gain some traction in the contest and were very well-served close to their own goal, where they never allowed the Tourlestrane inside forwards to get into the game.
The dismissal of Corcoran proved a huge blow as he was one of the few players who looked physically able for the close battles that were breaking out all over the field, while it also made it a lot more difficult for the Tourlestrane forwards to put real and meaningful pressure on those defenders bursting out of the back line, and that started to take a toll as the game went on.
Midfield duo Mike Mangan and Oran O’Reilly began to exert their power and strength at midfield and while the first half saw the Galway club players making a series of unforced errors, the transformation in the team after the interval was notable, as they held possession far better, swatting aside the challenges of the Tourlestrane side to build up cohesive, attacking moves.
A crucial score, the Galway side’s only one of the second half, arrived when Dara Nolan got out in front of his man and earned a free that Eoin Boyle converted, to push the lead back out to three, 0-9 to 0-6.
Mark Lundy was able to add on one final score for Tourlestrane, but though the sides were balanced up numerically when Seán McDonagh also saw a second yellow in the dying minutes, on a night when referee Eamon McGirl was clear that he wasn’t going to allow any unruliness or disorder creep into the game, by this point Tourlestrane were in real disarray and destined to head home empty-handed.
They never looked like creating the goal chance they badly needed as every high ball was easily gobbled up by Mountbellew-Moylough, while even when the ball was being moved through the hands by Tourlestrane, the massed ranks of the Mountbellew-Moylough defence worked well enough to ensure that Conal Docherty never had a shot to save. One game too far for the Tourlestrane minors, but not nearly enough to take the shine off an incredible year for the club, even if the club’s remarkable run of goalscoring form (26 in seven games so far) ran aground at the worst possible time.
TOURLESTRANE: Stephen Gavagan; Johnny Treacy, Fergal Monaghan, Ronan Walsh; Feidhlim O’Donnell, Kevin O’Hara, Mark Fallon; Cian Surlis, Jack Walsh; Jack Lundy, Eoin Walsh, Tom Corcoran; David Brennan (0-2, 0-2 frees), Stephen Clarke (0-1), Jack Lundy (0-4, 0-3 frees).
Sub: Dara Feely for J Lundy (42). MOUNTBELLEW-MOYLOUGH: Conal Docherty; Ian Fleming, Caolan Gribbin, Eanna Donoghue; Eanna Gavin, Conor McDonald, Dara Newell; Mike Mangan (0-1, ’45), Oran O’Reilly; Patrick Kelly (0-2, 0-1 free), Eoin Boyle (0-3, 0-3 frees), Shane Coyle; Seán McDonagh (0-2), Cathal Donnellan (0-1), Dylan Healy McNamara.
Sub: Dara Nolan for Healy McNamara (25). REFEREE: Michael McGirl (Leitrim).
ONE GAME TOO FAR FOR THE TOURLESTRANE MINORS, BUT NOT NEARLY ENOUGH TO TAKE THE SHINE OFF AN INCREDIBLE YEAR FOR THE CLUB.