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Masonite Leitrim Senior Football Championship - Semi Final
Carrigallen v Melvin Gaels

Venue: Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada Date: 6.09.09 Throw-in: 6:15pm
Final Score: 0-10 / 0-07
Defiant Carrigallen dump wasteful Gaels out
by John Connolly, Leitrim Observer

He scored the winning point against Annaduff but keeper Enda Lyons returned to his normal, albeit spectacular, duties last Sunday in the Masonite Senior Championship Semi-Final when his wonder save against a wasteful Melvin Gaels sent Carrigallen into their first County Senior Final since 1992. Two years ago, it was a Lyons fifty that did the damage to Melvin Gaels but this time, the Carrigallen keeper pushed Colin Regan’s pile-driver onto the post and away to safety over three minutes into added time and secured a long awaited place in the County Final.

That save typified Carrigallen’s performance – defying the favourites and the conditions, Carrigallen played out of their skins, making vital blocks and interceptions to score a famous win. Yet with 15 minutes to go, you’d have got long odds on a Carrigallen win as a grinding Melvin Gaels cut a four point lead down to the minimum margin and seemed to have all the momentum and the wind with them. The Gaels were left scratching their heads as to how they let this one slip - after they closed the gap to four points, Melvin Gaels had six chances to equalise but with four wides, one dramatic block and a free getting spectacularly caught on the goal-line, they never got the score they so desperately needed.

Indeed, you could see the desperation growing in the Melvin Gaels ranks and the confidence growing in a Carrigallen back-line that was under ferocious pressure during the second half. What Carrigallen needed was a score against the run of play and after Conor Sheridan’s free was caught on the line, Carrigallen went down the field where sub Mark Kerrigan saw his shot deflected over the bar to increase their lead to a massive two points. In conditions as testing and difficult as both teams endured last Sunday, two points was a massive gap so when Ciaran Flynn capped a great individual display with a brilliant point seconds later, Carrigallen’s three point lead must have seemed like a chasm as great as the Grand Canyon!

Carrigallen’s players readily agreed that they rode their luck at times last Sunday but their work-ethic and fierce spirit was more than deserving of a place in the semi-final, quite an achievement for this year’s Division Two Champions! Melvin Gaels may have enjoyed a monopoly on possession but crucially, they never got on level terms after Carrigallen sprinted out to a four point lead early in both halves. Twice the Kinlough men cut the gap back to a solitary point but they were never able to snatch that point that would almost certainly have propelled them to victory. The feeling that the Gaels would have a difficult chasing a lead rather than defending it was confirmed as they never moved with the same sort of fluency that they displayed against Kiltubrid.

Carrigallen’s ferocious work-rate in defence, where David Flynn equalled his brother Ciaran in importance to Carrigallen, was key to the victory as many times the Gaels seemed to have broken through only for a last gasp block or interception. Considering that Peter Honeyman, grandfather to the Flynns, had passed away last weekend, it was quite a statement of character from both young players. The substitution of Daniel Branley also seemed a foolish one as Branley was one man with an ability to get onto a high ball that Melvin Gaels were resorted to using in the final minutes. Carrigallen got off to a flying start - Ciaran Flynn pointed a free before scoring a brilliant 40-yard effort from the right wing a minute later. What he could do from the right, he did from the left as the Carrigallen full-forward added a third on five minutes from the right wing.

Melvin Gaels were all at sea with Enda Lyons putting a fifty wide and Flynn missing the target before Eoin Ward was spotted in space some 40 yards out and he drove over a good point. But momentum is fickle and good work from Thomas Lipsett & Colin Regan ended with Paul McGurrin firing over on 11 minutes and suddenly Melvin Gaels were back in the groove. Conor Sheridan punished a J.P. McManus foul with a 50-yard free but a preview of the Gaels problems in the second half were seen as David McSharry (2), Sheridan and Colin Regan all missed chances. However, when Daniel Branley fisted a McSharry cross over the Carrigallen bar on 19 minutes, the Gaels looked in the driving seat. But Carrigallen broke out from defence and when Paul Brennan was booked for a high foul on Andrew McManus, Ciaran Flynn put over a 40-yard free.

McManus was again the provider when he set up Eoin Ward for another fine point on the run and suddenly the gap was again three points. Paul McGurrin dropped a poor shot into Enda Lyons while Sheridan badly missed a free before he made amends, setting up Stephen McGurrin for a 26th minute point. The half ended with Carrigallen missing the target as Flynn hit two frees wide as Ward also missed the target while Brendan Brennan and Flynn were both yellow carded in separate incidents. That left Carrigallen with a precarious 0-6 to 0-4 halftime lead as Melvin Gaels would have the strong wind behind them in the second half.

Instead, Carrigallen laid the foundation of their victory in the first four minutes of the second half. Lyons saved a Stephen McGurrin shot before Ciaran Flynn converted two frees, one after he appeared to be heavily fouled by James Phelan, one that the Melvin Gaels man was very lucky to escape censure for after he landed on Flynn’s head. In a strange turn of events, Flynn took the free but then had to leave the field for a blood substitution.Flynn tried to come back on three minutes later but objections from two Melvin Gaels players as he went to take a free saw referee Eamon O’Grady order him back off for more treatment.

It was nearly a costly move as Eamon O’Malley’s low swinging free almost dipped into the net, bringing an alert save from Gareth Phelan. That score came after Colin Regan’s measured shot from the right wing on five minutes had narrowed the gap and the former County man repeated the dose, collecting a blocked ball to fire over on ten minutes. Carrigallen needed a score but missed chances looked extremely costly when Conor Sheridan scored a wonderful point to leave just a point between the teams with 15 minutes to go. Everything seemed to be going Melvin Gaels way but the wheels came off the wagon as the pressure of getting the equalising score started to tell – McSharry put a free wide, Branley kicked from an impossible angle and Stephen McGurrin also missed the target.

The wides continued, one from Brendan Brennan while McSharry looked certain to score only for a spectacular block on his shot. Sheridan had a 40-yard free drop short and was crucially gathered on the line. Carrigallen broke from defence and when Eoin Ward’s long ball was broken down by sub Mark Kerrigan, a goal briefly appeared on only for Gareth Phelan to get a touch. The ball, however, still looped over the bar. That score energised Carrigallen and they won the kick-out, got the ball back after a half-block on a pass, sending it to Ciaran Flynn who hit an outrageous shot over the bar from almost 55 yards!

It was a score worthy of winning any game and meant that Melvin Gaels had to come looking for a goal. J.P. McManus had a shot held by Phelan after a quick free while David Flynn leapt to an amazing height to punch the ball from the grasp of McSharry. The Gaels were desperately trying to work a goal opportunity and didn’t seem to be able to break down the Carrigallen defence until Colin Regan found himself in possession some 15-yards out and over three minutes into added time. His powerful shot was heading for the top right hand corner only for a flying Enda Lyons to save the shot, pushing the ball onto the post and out as referee Eamon O’Grady immediately sounded the final whistle for a dramatic conclusion to a dramatic match.


Enda Lyons, Barry Reilly, David Flynn, Karl Ward, Terence Reynolds, Noel Doonan, J.P. McManus, Gary Reynolds, Cliff Richardson, Martin Dolan, Eoin Ward (0-2), Andrew McManus, Eamon Dolan, Ciaran Flynn (0-7), Killian Ward. Subs: Eamon O’Malley for M. Dolan (22 mins), Bernard O’Rourke for E. Dolan (41 mins), Mark Kerrigan for K. Ward (52 mins)

Melvin Gaels

Gareth Phelan, Paul Og Ferguson, James Phelan, Colm McGowan, Paul Brennan, Fabian McMorrow, Anthony Tiffoney, Brendan Brennan, Stephen McGurrin (0-1), Conor Sheridan (0-2), Paul McGurrin (0-1), Colin Regan (0-2), Thomas Lipsett, Daniel Branley (0-1), David McSharry. Subs: Patrick Kilkenny for Branley (52 mins), Martin McCarron for P. McGurrin (58 mins).

Referee: Eamon O’Grady
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Last Updated: March 27, 2012
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