Ghaoth Dobhair 0
St Gerald’s, Castlebar 1
Connacht champions St Joseph’s/St Gerald’s from Castlebar had too much for Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair in the Umbro Minor Boys’ FAIS All-Ireland semi-final at Sligo Institute of Technology yesterday afternoon.
In a one-sided encounter, the Ulster champions, who defeated fellow Donegal outfit Scoil Mhuire from Buncrana 2-0 in Ballybofey on Friday, were up against it for long spells against the Mayo team.
As well as James McGinty’s winning goal as early as the 18th minute, on three separate occasions Gaoth Dobhair were saved by the crossbar and each time it was the unfortunate Neo Baba who had the goalframe rattling.
St Joseph’s/St Gerald’s had form going into the encounter by the Garavogue having scored an excellent 3-0 win over St Joseph’s College from Galway in the western decider and continued the steak of positiveness, taking the game to their opponents from the Gaeltacht.
As early as the 10th minute, a corner from Jarleth O’Malley was met by McGinty, only for the alert Naoise O’Baoill to hook the ball clear from underneath his crossbar.
Although looking back the avalanche took a little time to gather full momentum, eight minutes later the goal arrived. Baba spread play wide intelligently and Eoin Grady provided the ammunition for McGinty to score.
Chances continued to come the way of St Joseph’s/St Gerald’s and approaching half-time Gary Walsh was denied by the increasingly over-employed Michael Carroll in the Gaoth Dobhair goal, while Baba’s free-kick collided off the crossbar.
With the encouragement of team manager Nigel Ferry ringing in their ears, Pobalscoil emerged for the second half safe in the knowledge that significant improvement was required to keep their dreams of a place in the All-Ireland final alive.
The optimists among their ranks would have been somewhat appeased by an enterprising start that nearly brought a leveller when John Coyle’s dangerous cross almost crept in, only for goalkeeper Paul Walsh to make the save.
St Joseph’s/St Gerald’s, though, were not willing to sit on their precarious advantage and continued to press as they wrestled control of the game again. McGinty, from Baba’s pass, drew another save from Carroll and the Gaoth Dobhair netminder then took two bites of the cheery before he quelled the danger from Baba once more.
As time drew thin on the ground, St Joseph’s/St Gerald’s knew Gaoth Dobhair would leave holes at the back that would create potentially profitable corridors of opportunity.
Baba, with another pile-driver, hit the woodwork again, a trick he repeated in stoppage time. A second goal on either of those occasions would surely have settled matters but as it was, one goal was enough for the deserving winners.
Munster title-holders CBS High School from Clonmel got the better of Presentation College from Cork in the provincial decider and Tipperary side now await the outcome of the Leinster final.
St Joseph’s/St Gerald’s, on All-Ireland final day, will be the opponents for whoever comes through that particular triangle.
Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair: Michael Carroll; Naoise O’Baoill, Gary McFadden, Ryan Griffin, John Coyle; Niall Friel, Niall Doherty (Ryan Kelly), Kieran Gillespie, Gavin McBride; Cian O’Fearraigh (Charlie Boyle), Daragh O’Baoill.
St Joseph’s/St Gerald’s: Paul Walsh; Ryan Collins, Matthew Ruane, Sean Keaney, Jarleth O’Malley; Gary Walsh, Neo Baba, Eoin Grady, Sean Hastings; James McGinty, Stephen McDermott.
Referee: Declan Toland (Athlone).