Tourlestrane mi­nors fall short af­ter epic year

The Sligo Champion - - SPORT - BY KEVIN EGAN



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).


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