GLENFIN secured their All-County League Division Two status with a win over Naomh Columba that wasn’t as comfortable as the scoreline might suggest.
Naomh Columba 0-7
With 10 minutes remaining the team managed by Francie Martin led by three points after successive scores from substitute Noel Hegarty and Michael Maguire breathed new life into the Naomh Columba challenge.
However, a couple of punctuation points within a couple of minutes changed the course of the respective sides’ afternoons, and, as a consequence, their destinies for the season.
Stephen McDermott had been repositioned from the off at full-forward and although the theory could’ve been termed a success of sorts, it was only when he was repositioned at centre-field his more natural instincts were expressed.
Noel Hegarty was then red-carded by match referee Michael Mulhern, for two quickfire bookings for dissent and the vacuum he left was sucked up by McDermott.
After McDermott and Ciaran Moy pointed, the difference edged out to five before the Naomh Columba house fell in during stoppage time. With more holes in their defence than appeared in Blackburn, Lancashire, in the famed Beatles song, Glenfin were ruthless in their conviction.
On 63 minutes, McDermott won the ball in midfield, broke forward with purpose and after a net give and go with Leigh Herron, rolled the ball underneath goalkeeper Pauric O’Donnell.
Then, two minutes later, the clay started landing on Naomh Columba’s coffin when Seamus McGlynn broke into space and shot for goal, the ball rebounded out from the goalframe but the umpire correctly called it was the stanchion and not the crossbar. Game over. And although Glenfin - this season’s county senior semi-finalists - will have to be content with intermediate championship football next term, at least they avoided a stint in the third tier.
Glenfin’s overall superiority was unquestionable but for all their dominance Naomh Columba were, until the bitter end, in the contest even with the sharp-shooting abilities of Pauric Gillespie.
Leigh Herron opened the scoring inside of 15 seconds and Frank McGlynn added a second. The Glencolumbkille side were level, though, when Oisin McGinley and Noel McGinley pointed before four successive points gave the team from An Gaeltachta Lar control, with Gerard Ward, Malachy Martin and a Herron brace all ingredients in the surge.
The half-time score was 0-8 to 0-4 for Glenfin with McDermott and Ward also on target, while the replies came courtesy of Oisin McGinley and Dara O’Donnell. The four-point arrears for Naomh Columba could’ve been worse all the same, as full-back Michael Cunningham twice stopped certain goals with blocks from underneath the shadow of his own crossbar. Firstly, as early as the fourth minute from McDermott and then on the stroke of half-time when Malachy Martin had already rounded the goalkeeper only for Cunningham to stop legally with the boot.
Brian McGinley’s point at the start of the second period emphasised the clinginess of Naomh Columba but they would never muscle inside of the arm’s length of three points. Goalkeeper O’Donnell saved well with his legs to deny Frank McGlynn, although the county defender might be the first to admit his finish wasn’t of the same standard as the daring run that created the opportunity.
Points from Moy and Martin put Glenfin 0-10 to 0-5 in front but, as stated previously, Hegarty, with a monster free, and Michael Maguire took it down to three. But then Hegarty walked for his disagreement with referee Mulhern and from there Glenfin cemented their position for another year.
Glenfin: Benji O’Meara; Dean Herron, Gavin McDermott, Stephen McGlynn; Gary Herron, Gareth Martin, Frank McGlynn (0-1); Mark McGinty snr, Michael McGlynn; Malachy Martin (0-2), Kevin McGlynn, Ciaran Moy (0-2, 2f); Leigh Herron (0-3), Stephen McDermott (1-2), Gerard Ward (0-2,1f). Subs: Seamus McGlynn (1-0) for K.McGlynn (14 mins); Daniel McGlynn for McGinty (43 mins).
Naomh Columba: Philip O’Donnell; Ciaran McBrearty, Martin Cunningham, Kenneth Byrne; Barry Carr, Michael Maguire (0-1), Kevin McNern; Noel McGinley (0-1), Andrew O’Gara; Declan McGuire, Kevin ‘Beag’ Cunningham, Dermot McGuire; Brian McGinley (0-1), Oisin McGinley (0-2,1f), Dara O’Donnell (0-1, 1f). Sub: Noel Hegarty (0-1, 1f) for K Cunningham (half-time).
Referee: Michael Mulhern (St Eunan’s).
Man of the match
Whilst employed at full-forward Stephen McDermott provided an out ball for Glenfin, with varying degrees of success. When he was switched to his more natural habitat in the middle of the field late on he ruled the roost and his stoppage time goal was deserved for a fine display.
Michael Mulhern produced a red card to Noel Hegarty for dissent and with his dismissal went Naomh Columba’s chances. Other than that, the St Eunan’s official was kept reasonably busy but was reasonably consistent in his calls.
Stephen McDermott remarked afterwards the sending off of Noel Hegarty opened the floodgates and he was probably on the money. Glenfin looked the most likely at that stage but blazed home to seal the win.