In a county where the short pass is king, direct ball from an awesome St. Michael’s cut hosts Four Masters apart in this mismatch at Tir Conaill Park on Saturday evening.
Four Masters 2-05
St. Michael’s 3-12
A third minute Four Master’s goal and a late in the day penalty goal (54th minute) narrowed the numbers, but truth be told, St. Michael’s were hugely superior and yet only led by four at the break, 1-1 to 0-8.
They had power in midfield, potency up front, a rock solid defence and a super confident goalkeeper, Mark Anthony McGinley, who, on the few occasions he was asked to deal with high ball, did so with an assured touch - or more to the point assured fists.
The man of the match for me was St. Michael’s Andrew Kelly, who mixed pace with clever running and his finishing, three from play and one free, undersells his overall contribution.
Daniel McLaughlin a man of the match contender too, Christy Toye, a real power house coming through midfield who delivered the key 40 metre passes. Ciaran Gallagher and the excellent sixth minute substitute, Michael Cannon (in the for the injured Martin Breslin) also impressed. Liam Paul Ferry, nominally named at right corner back, was relentless in the tackle and selfless in his running all night, covering every blade of both wings. Michael Langan, at half forward, was another to break Four Master’s hearts with endless carries and intelligent running.
Add to this a player of the calibre of Colm Anthony McFadden who loitered with intent. He looked like a man who could do much more were it needed, still finished with a swaggering soccer style goal and a tasty point from play. 13 wides, seven in the first half, is the only negative for the victors.
Michael Doherty at full forward was the only obvious threat from Four Masters. His impact was limited as he was closed down by Chris McElhinney and Peter Witherow, scoring only once from play. Barry Dunnion, Jason Duignan, Barry Monaghan and Sean O’Kennedy emptied the tank.
Karl Lacey was as busy as his body would allow him, but any time he moved into the danger zone he was engulfed and had a lot of ball popped out of his grasp.
Masters failed to build on an early goal pushed home by Caolan Loughrey, Michaels were level by the 13th minute , Masters only scoring again in the half after a 23 minute gap.
2-12 to 1-2 ahead by the 50th minute, St Michael’s scored the goal of the game via a long high McElhinney ball won brilliantly in the air by 39 year old sub Brian McLoughlin who placed to Michael Gallagher who in turn set up Daniel McLaughlin for a two handed slam dunk to the net.
Despite a late, well finished Doherty penalty, the game was long over as a contest.
Four Masters: Ryan Haughey; Enda Bonner, Dáire Quinn, Dylan Kennedy; Kevin Breslin, Sean O’Kennedy 0-1, Karl Lacey; Josh Lacey, Barry Dunnion; Leo McHugh (0-1), Jason Duignan, Barry Monaghan; Caolan Loughrey (1-0), Michael Doherty 1-2, f, pen, Dylan Ward 0-1. Subs: Dylan Muldoon (44) for J Lacey; Emmet Doogan (49) for Bonner; Patrick Reid (50) for O’Kennedy.
St. Michael’s: Mark A. McGinley; Liam P. Ferry, Stephen Doak, Chris McElhinney; Peter Witherow, Ciaran Gallagher 1-0, Michael Gallagher; Martin McElhinney 0-1, Christy Toye 0-2; Michael Langan 0-1, Daniel McLaughlin 1-3, Martin Breslin; Ryan Langan, Colm A. McFadden 1-2, f, Andrew Kelly 0-4,f. Subs: Michael Cannon (6) for Breslin (injd.); Michael McGinley (h/t) for C McElhinney; Brendan Rodden (51) for R. Langan; Brian McLoughlin (51) for M. Langan, Stephen Black (57) for Witherow; Anton McFadden (57) for M Gallagher.
Referee: Seamus McGonagle (Aodh Ruadh).