The chase for a place in Connacht Shield Final ends

For Colemanstown yesterday, this was one of the most anticipated games in the history of the club. The stage was set for a showdown, a win would see Colemanstown in the Connacht Shield Final with only a visiting Swinford side standing in the way of history; a side they knew little about.  From the word go, Colemanstown never looked out of their depth. But by Lord, these players put in some haul, they gave it everything…… In fact they could-have and would-have won the match in regular time if only they had a bit of luck on their side. This game had everything ……  Ronaldo type bicycle kicks on two occasions which didn’t work out; one from Ray Moran & another attempt from Padraig Quirke; an absolute rock in central defence with powerful aerial ability in Jayo Finn’s tough and no-nonsense defending with some fantastic leaps 2.3m high! Ronnie Geraghty, Enda Cunniffe and Squelcy showed strong physique at the back, not alone in tackling but in clearing the ball time and time again and showed great ability to find their men in the right place at the right time.

The game started well for Colemanstown as they dictated the pace from the off.  The strike squad got plenty of chances through Ray Moran, Gareth Lally, Richie Lally, Squelchy, Sean Walsh & Tom Flan in the 2nd half. Ray had a chance on 3mins and Squelch hit the side net on 7mins after a good link-up with Ray Moran. Ronnie Geraghty had a header from a corner while Jayo was off target with his header from another corner as he got upended in the process with his rear end facing the blue sky as he was left hanging on the wall. The sole blemish of a solid Colemanstown first half performance came on 15mins totally against the run of play. Swinfords No. 10 (Conor McGregor lookalike) curled the ball past a lunging John Gormally. However, Colemanstown recovered quickly and got back on track as they traded attack upon attack.  Enda Cunniffe won a corner, taken by Richie Lally and the visitor’s custodian did well to keep out Sean Walsh’s header. Ray Moran found Gary Lally but his effort in the end was weak and straight at the keeper. On 23 mins a powerful Jayo header took a combination of keeper & defender to keep the ball out. Then Ronnie Geraghty’s long free found Jayo lurking on the edge of the 18’ box whose goal bound effort took a deflection. Richie Lally & Ray Moran combined well to set up Sean Walsh who shot straight at the keeper. Colemanstown had a lucky escape on 44mins when a 2nd goal looked ominous from the visitors in a break from midfield but Gormally made an exceptional save to keep the score 1-0 to the Mayo side at the break.

The 2nd half continued much the same, although Swinford came a little more into the game. Flan was introduced at half time for Sean Walsh who had at this stage played his heart out. Flan was just over with a free after Alo Finn was fouled. Richie was then fed by Squelchy who blasted over the bar from an acute angle. 26mins into the half, Squelch did the hard work to win back the ball in front of the stand, found Flan who switched play across to Richie on the opposite flank. Flan met the cross with a perfect header which hit the butt of the post. Would the all-important equaliser come….? Just 28mins into the half, Richie swung in a corner, won by Flan and Jayo’s diving header bundled the ball over the line to an absolute rousing applause. However, the ref disallowed the goal and only the ref and Jayo know why! At this stage the game was fast and furious and the quality of the soccer shone. The most valiant attempts from the Colemnastown lads to prise open the Swinford defence came with wave after wave of Colemnastown attacks. There was still hope for the boys in green. Richie Lally’s free kick was chested across the face of goal by Ray. Swinford had the next effort from a free kick, again taken by their No. 10 but Gormally got down well to save. In the ensuing play, John Gormally’s long kick out found Flan whose low hard drill was pushed out for a corner by the Swinford custodian. The equaliser came on 42mins as Gary Lally, a pure thorn in Swinfords side all day, was fouled in the box and the linesman brought it to the attention of the ref who pointed to the penalty spot. Up stepped Flan who dispatched it relatively easily although Jayo unable to look at proceedings, turned his back on things to count Frank’s sheep in the adjacent pastures. It was no more than Colemanstown deserved. On 46mins Flan had the chance of the winner but the ball curled away at the last minute much to his disgust and that of those in the stand. 1-1 after 90mins and so to extra time for two tiring teams.

Swinford made life easier for themselves 4mins into extra time as their striker disdainfully finished well in a break from midfield. The pressure was back on Colemanstown. Flan got on the end of a long kick out from Gormally and cut across the goal before turning to shoot but found the side net. Colemanstown tried hard, but in vain to scramble the ball over the line in a crowded box.  However, the die was cast 7mins into the 2nd half of extra time as their striker curled the ball past Gormally who simply could do nothing about it. The last 3mins of extra time saw the game fizzle out. So that’s how it finished: 3-1 to Swinford but one thing for sure’ Colemanstown certainly gave it a go’.

Although Colemanstown lost this game they were far from outplayed or outclassed. The meaning of ‘Possession is nine-tenths of the law’ was given a new meaning yesterday. Timmy Holian’s charges dominated this game but unfortunately got no rub of the green. One couldn’t be more proud of these lads, for their commitment and their shift put in on the day.

We can only say ‘thank you’ to the  large crowd of past players, underage players, their parents and even 2 week old Harry Kirby who came out in such large numbers to shout on the boys in green. Thanks to those who provided the hospitality at half time in the clubhouse and thanks to Bernie & Catherine Burke for their delicious hearty homemade soup and sandwiches provided for both teams and supporters after the game. At least the Swinford lads went home happy and well fed. We wish them all the best in the Final.

Squad: John Gormally. Squelchy, Ronnie Geraghty, Jayo Finn, Enda Cunniffe, Richie Lally, Padraig Quirke, Gary Lally, Alo Finn, Ray Moran, Sean Walsh, Tom Flannery, Garry O’Grady, Dylan Grady, Ronan Carr, Geordan Kenny, Jack Kennedy, Edo Flannery.