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Masonite Leitrim Senior Football Championship - Final

Carrigallen v Glencar Manorhamilton

Venue: Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada Date: 27.09.09 Throw-in: 2:50pm

Final Score: 2-07 / 0-14

Team:
Enda Lyons, Barry Reilly, David Flynn, Karl Ward, Terence Reynolds, Noel Doonan (0-1), JP McManus, Clifford Richardson, Gary Reynolds (0-1), Martin Dolan, Eoin Ward, Andrew McManus (1-0), Benny O'Rourke (0-3), Ciaran Flynn (0-2), Eamonn O'Malley. Subs: Killian Ward for O’Malley (25 mins), Brian Doyle (1-0) for Killian Ward (49 mins), Mark Kerrigan for E. Ward (57 mins).
 
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A dynasty in the making after Champions emerge victorious from thriller
John Connolly, The Leitrim Observer

Two titles in a row hardly qualifies as a dynasty but the manner in which Glencar/Manorhamilton retained their Masonite Leitrim Senior Football Championship title after a enthralling contest with Carrigallen last Sunday suggests that there is a dynasty in the making.

We've been waiting for years for a team to grab the title by the scruff of the neck and refuse to let go and, after one of the best County Finals in years, it looks as if it going to take something special to prise the Fenagh Cup from the grasp of Glencar/ Manorhamilton in the years to come. Such has been the attrition rate of defending champions since Allen Gaels in 2001/2002 that a two-in-a-row has achieved almost mythical status but Glencar/Manor look like they could go on and establish a dynasty that will dominate Leitrim club football for years to come.

That may seem a wild statement, particularly after their narrow escapes against Sean O'Heslin's and Bornacoola, but the manner of their victory over an incredibly brave Carrigallen suggests that this Manor team have all the ingredients for greatness. First of all, no team have ever changed a third of a Senior Championship winning team from one year to the next and still retained its title! The depth of talent at the disposal of the champions suggests that the first big battle any Glencar/ Manorhamilton player may have in the years ahead is to get on their Senior team. Their age profile is remarkably young and the last team to genuinely come through with the future wide open in front of them was the great Allen Gaels side who claimed five Senior Championship titles in an 11 year spell!

Yet it wouldn't have taken much for Carrigallen to secure their own piece of history after they delivered a performance that belied their Final inexperience, particularly when Brian Doyle defied his years by planting the ball in the net with less than ten minutes to go to propel a Carrigallen team into the lead and seemingly on the way to the title. It was then that we saw the greatness of the champions – Carrigallen performed as well as any team have in a Senior Final over the last ten years and considerably better than a few teams who have won the title but they had no answer to Glencar/ Manorhamilton's awesome finish. Within five minutes of Doyle's killer goal, Glencar/Manor were back in front and all three were scored by players no older than 24 years of age! It was the sort of response one would expect of a grizzled team of veterans but Brian McDonald apparently qualifies as an old man on this Manor team at 24 years of age. He and fellow sub Gerry Hickey tapped over points before Adrian Croal whipped over a point worthy of winning any Final.

The new champions had already demonstrated their steel by recovering from a blistering opening from Carrigallen that saw Andrew McManus ram home a goal after just 30 seconds in the most dramatic opening to any County Final in years. Carrigallen were flying and a stuttering and panicking Glencar/Manor were restricted to just one point in the opening 20 minutes as the challengers went six points ahead and seemed well on the road to victory. Yet again, we were given another demonstration of Manor’s greatness as, in the final ten minutes of the first half, they scored an unanswered five points to put the Final right back into the melting pot. That ten minute period was the winning of the game for the champions – it restored their confidence and got them moving the ball with calm assurance for the rest of the game as they started to restrict the dangerous Ciaran Flynn. Flynn had started the contest like a train and had both Adrian O’Flynn and Pat Gilmartin, two of Manor’s leaders in defence, in real trouble with his pace and movement off the ball.

It is no coincidence that once James O’Brien came on just 18 minutes into the second half and Manor reorganised their defence that the champions began their ascent to the title, with Paddy Maguire beginning what was a man of the match display. Young Maguire has been the star of Manor’s knock-out stages and he delivered yet another flawless performance last Sunday, one that rightly has seen him called up to the County Senior panel. But Maguire wasn’t alone in terms of crucial contributions to the Manor cause – Thomas McDonald was rock solid in the other corner while the recovery of O’Flynn and Gilmartin restored the equilibrium of the champions and drove them on to victory.

Upfront, the duo of Adrian Croal and James Glancy were identified last week as the key to a Manor victory. If they clicked, Manor were going to be hard stopped and it’s fair to say that they most certainly did click, scoring nine points between them. Croal is becoming the scorer of spectacular points, his winning effort typical of his work last Sunday while the leadership of James Glancy was crucial in digging Glencar/Manor out of the hole they were in when they were six points down. But you could have picked out quite a few others – Fintan McGourty made quite a few vital contributions to the cause and subs Gerry Hickey, James O’Brien and Brian McDonald all made huge contributions.

On the other side, Carrigallen’s J.P. and Andrew McManus were simply immense – two of the older players on the Carrigallen squad, they defied their years with a non-stop and tireless display for the 60 plus minutes that would have been enough in many other years to propel their side to the title. J.P. would have been an automatic choice as man of the match had Carrigallen managed to get across the line, such was the excellence he displayed during the second half for his team. But no more than Glencar/Manor, the performances weren’t restricted to one or two players – Ciaran Flynn illustrated the rich promise he demonstrated all year, particularly in the opening half when he looked a genuine threat as target man.

Terence Reynolds, Noel Doonan, Gary Reynolds, David Flynn and Bernard O’Rourke all delivered great performances for Carrigallen and it was their misfortune to come up against a team as accomplished and as confident as Glencar/ Manorhamilton. It may seem a bit churlish after such an exciting and thoroughly entertaining contest to take issue with refereeing decisions but Carrigallen were aggrieved by two decisions in particular last Sunday from referee Eamon O’Grady. The Drumkeerin official delivered a great display, full of common sense but Carrigallen were annoyed at the decision to penalise Noel Doonan for a foul in the first half and the failure to award a free to Cliff Richardson in the closing minutes.

In the case of Doonan, in the last minute of the first half, the Carrigallen captain appeared to clearly get his hand to the ball and knock it away from James Glancy’s grasp. A free was awarded, duly tapped over by the Manor man and in a game as tight as last Sunday, it was a huge decision. Regarding the Richardson incident, O’Grady would have been damned if he did and damned if he didn’t – the Carrigallen midfielder was put under immense pressure by a disciplined Manor defence and the easiest thing in the world for O’Grady would have been to give a free in, giving Carrigallen a chance of a draw. It was the sort of decision that can go one way or the other but it is hard to argue with O’Grady’s decision, particularly after an excellent overall display that contributed greatly to the enjoyment of a wonderful contest.

It probably is no consolation, indeed it may not even be a consolation for years to come, if ever, but Carrigallen more than played their part in a thrilling Senior Final, up there with the best County Finals that I have witnessed in my years with the Observer. For action, for two committed teams going head to head and producing all that is best about Gaelic football, without the negativity or tension that can spoil many a final, last Sunday’s decider ranks up there with the epic 1996 Final replay between Allen Gaels and St. Mary’s. No more than that spectacular game 16 years ago, spectators were treated to a game that ebbed and flowed last Sunday from one-side to the other as two teams produced a truly epic effort that everyone associated with both clubs can be rightly proud of, winners and losers both.

All you had to do was talk to any of numerous neutrals who attended last Sunday’s game – from Melvin Gaels, Drumreilly, St. Mary’s, Allen Gaels and all parts in between, there was universal joy at a final that suggests that the future of football in the county is bright
 
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Noel rails against decisions but praises Champions
John Connolly, The Leitrim Observer

After a game as tight and as closely fought as last Sunday's Masonite Leitrim Senior Championship Final, it is a difficult balancing act for a losing captain to strike the right note. But Carrigallen's Noel Doonan more than managed that awkward feat as he praised the new champions but questioned a few key decisions in the game. "We're devastated, we had the winning of it, I know we had," Noel told the Observer, "we had chances here and there but you have to take your chances when you get them and Manorhamilton did that and fair play to them. "They are great champions and I hope they go on to represent Leitrim in Connacht to the best of their ability."

If there was anything that annoyed Carrigallen's captain from the game, it was the failure of Cliff Richardson to get a free in injury time and the decision to penalise Noel himself for what looked like a perfectly good tackle on James Glancy during the first half. "The free that was given against me, I know got my hand on the ball, I know in my heart and soul I did but they got a free and over the bar it went."

The Carrigallen captain revealed that Andrew McManus' goal in the first minute came from a pre-planned move - "We know we can play football and we knew we had to get things right at the start if we were to get any sort of lead on Manorhamilton because they are great champions. "Andrew got the goal but that was something we have worked on in training and you get a bit of a buzz from that, seeing it come to fruition in a game. You have to hand it to Andrew and J.P., they rolled back the years today and they put in sterling work."

However, Noel did feel that Manor's experience on County Final day was a crucial factor - "We have to hold our hands up, Manorhamilton were more clinical in the game. I think we showed our naivety in certain stages of the game. "It was a big step for us to get to the County Final this year and hopefully, we will be back again. We'll go away and assess what happened today and I'm sure we'll be back in January ready and raring to go for next year. "We have a young team, we have experience in vital areas and we have young lads who are coming on. They'll learn from this as well as the more experienced lads, it was our first final as well and we'll all learn from it and hopefully, we will be back next year."

Noel also revealed that key attacker Eoin Ward was lucky to even start the game as he was very ill just a week before the game – "Eoin was under the weather a lot. Last weekend, it was touch and go as to whether he would play and it was a testament to his determination to be here today. "I thought in the second half, he put in a lot of work for a lad that was running a temperature of 105, 106, to be back five or six days later was a fantastic effort by him."
 
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Carrigallen will be back
Colin Hannify talks to John Connolly, The Leitrim Observer

Graciously proclaiming that the better team had won on the day, Carrigallen manager Colin Hannify nevertheless predicted that his team would learn from the experience and would be back contesting the Senior Final in the years ahead. "I thought we had them when Brian Doyle came on and got the goal but the best team won on the day and we've no qualms about it," Colin admitted, "We're bitterly disappointed, we felt we had them on the rack several times but we just didn't finish them off. "We didn't take our chances and they did and I suppose the bit of experience stood to them, being county champions and they are a good team. This Carrigallen team will be back again, they're a very young side and we'll give it a lash again next year."

Brian Doyle's goal looked like giving Carrigallen the platform for victory but Colin agreed that Manor's experience was a crucial factor - "We've been able to come back and have been able to hold out but today, we didn't hold out. "I suppose in the end, we didn't have enough time and Glencar/Manorhamilton were that little bit cuter. We tried to tackle as best we can but maybe at times we didn't put enough pressure on the ball."

Despite the fact that neutrals agreed it was the best County Final in years, it seemed little consolation to the Carrigallen manager - "I've heard a few people saying it was a good County Final and it is great that two teams go out and play good football, that's what everyone and neutrals want to see. "But we're very disappointed and we lost. We put in a lot of effort this year and we felt it could have been our year."

And Colin certainly had no qualms about referee Eamon O'Grady, despite the disappointment of his captain Noel Doonan with a couple of decisions - "I'm not going to start nit-picking and saying we should have got this free or that free. "I thought the referee did a fairly good job but one or two little decisions will go against you. Glencar/Manorhamilton will probably feel one or two little decisions went against them, you'll always get that. "I felt at the end that Clifford caught a great ball and he was on the ground and he was trying to get up. He hadn't much chance to get up and maybe the referee could have played a hop ball. "You win some and you lose some and some of these decisions will go against you but generally, I thought the referee did a good job," concluded Colin.
 
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Score by Score - As it happened in Pairc Sean
John Connolly, The Leitrim Observer

30 secs:
GOAL – and the perfect start for Carrigallen. Gary Reynolds sends a long free in towards Ciaran Flynn. Flynn gets in a tangle with Pat Gilmartin and Adrian O'Flynn but the ball flies on to an unmarked Andrew McManus breaking from deep. A quick shimmy and sidestep and McManus marks his return to the County Final 17 years after his first appearance with a goal.

1 min:
Glencar/Manor's response is thwarted as Gary Reynolds blocks a shot from Dominic Kelly while the Manor captain follows up with a wide from the right wing a minute later. Fintan McGourty also shoots wide of the target.

4 mins: Terence Reynolds & Andrew McManus combine to set Ciaran Flynn free – he gathers at pace, rounds his man and runs on to score.

5 mins:
J.P. McManus combines with Eamon O'Malley to get the ball to Noel Doonan who thumps a monster 50-yard effort over the bar.

7 mins:
Pat Gilmartin sends a long relieving clearance into the Carrigallen half where Adrian Croal beats his man and charges through to fist over the bar, although James Glancy looked in a good position in front of goal.

11 mins: Bernard O'Rourke restores Carrigallen's five point lead by punishing an Adrian O'Flynn foul on Ciaran Flynn.

16 mins: In the space of a minute, Glencar/Manor miss two chances when Glancy and Aaron Hickey both drop shots into Enda Lyons' hands.

18 mins: A foul off-the-ball leads to O'Rourke tapping over his second free. A worried Glencar/Manor have seen enough and James O'Brien enters the fray for last year's Final Man of the Match Shane Loughlin.

20 mins: Matches can turn on the smallest incidents and Adrian O'Flynn makes a vital interception on the ball to Eamon O'Malley. Glencar/Manor work the ball down the field with Dominic Kelly setting up James Glancy for a point, a nice turn from the County man creating the space.

23 mins: Another Carrigallen attack breaks down when O'Malley loses the ball which is swiftly moved to Aaron Hickey who puts over a great point under pressure.

25 mins: After O'Malley drops a shot into Shane Sweeney's hands, Ciaran Flynn creates a moment of panic when he gets onto a long ball and plays it across the goal. Unfortunately for Carrigallen, nobody is on the end of it and the chance is lost. Carrigallen then send on Killian Ward for O'Malley.

26 mins:
James Glancy wins a free in a harsh call against Barry Reilly, converting the free. A minute later, a long ball finds Adrian Croal in the left corner and he floats a wonderful point across the bar.

28 mins: Referee Eamon O'Grady makes a poor call when he penalises Noel Doonan for a foul on James Glancy when the Carrigallen man clearly knocked the ball away from the Manor man's grasp. Glancy put the free over the bar to leave just a point between the teams at the break.

HALFTIME: GLENCAR/MANORHAMILTON 0-6, CARRIGALLEN 1-4

1 mins: After Noel Doonan shoots a matter of inches wide, a foul on Killian Ward after a long ball leads to another successful O'Rourke free.

2 mins: Dominic Kelly and Adrian Croal combine to get the ball to James Glancy who scores a wonderful effort off his back-foot. Seconds later, Dominic Kelly spins a dangerous pass from the left wing in front of a team-mate but Gary Reynolds makes an important interception.

6 mins: Glancy continues to drive the champions as he levels the score, hitting the point with his left after good work from Aaron Hickey and Adrian O'Flynn resulted in the score.

8 mins: Despite a wide from Croal, Anthony McDonald puts Manor in front for the first time when Aaron Hickey sets McDonald up for the score.

9 mins: Carrigallen attack but Adrian O'Flynn gets his hand to the ball, setting in train a Manor move that sees Anthony McDonald try to pass the ball over the top to Adrian Croal. His first attempt is blocked but he tries again and Croal fires over with a goal on the cards.

11 mins: Ciaran Flynn begins the fight-back with a brilliant free from the left wing, 35 yards out after a foul on J.P. McManus.

14 mins: Carrigallen tie the scores when a long ball finds the energetic Andrew McManus. A defender has a chance to intercept but loses the ball and Gary Reynolds twists and turns his way through heavy pressure to score a wonderful point.

15 mins: Cliff Richardson is booked for a late hit while Noel Doonan is narrowly wide from long range. Two minutes later, Colin Ryan's poor effort goes well wide.

20 mins: Fintan McGourty ghosts into space to collect the ball and put Manor back in front with a clever point.

21 mins: GOAL – the drama gets even better when a high ball into sub Brian Doyle is claimed by the defence. Somehow the clearance is mis-hit and goes straight to Ciaran Flynn in front of the Manor goal. Adrian O'Flynn and keeper Shane Sweeney make a miracle block on the shot but the ball breaks to Brian Doyle who hammers it home from close range.

23 mins:
With Manor under enormous pressure, sub Brian McDonald make a huge impact with a tremendous run and score under pressure to leave one between the teams.

24 mins: Gary Reynolds works another scoring opportunity but his shot hits the post and goes wide.

25 mins: Glencar/Manor draw level again when a poor Croal shot is fielded by Fintan McGourty who sets up sub Gerry Hickey for the levelling scores.

26 mins: With a score worthy of winning any game, Adrian Croal scores a wonderful effort from the left wing to put Glencar/Manor in front at the vital time and despite plenty of Carrigallen pressure in three minutes of added time, they can't work an opening to force a draw.

FULL-TIME: GLENCAR MANORHAMILTON 0-14, CARRIGALLEN 2-7
 
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