Stephen Griffin was again the star of the show, kicking 1-10 of St Naul’s total against an Urris outfit who failed to do themselves any sort of justice on the afternoon of the Busanna Feda O’Donaill Intermediate Football Championship semi-final in Convoy on Sunday.
St Naul’s 1-12
Although Alan Friel of Urris scored both the first and the last points of the first half, St Naul’s rammed in a goal and six points in between. Griffin scored 1-4 of their interval total, 1-10 in all, while Danny McDyre and Shane Conneely were also on target. The McGinley brothers, Conal and Fiachra, had a stranglehold on centre-field. At the back, St Naul’s were diligent and kept a fourth successive clean sheet in the championship and in their last five they’ve only conceded 29 points.
The only goal of the game came on 23 minutes when Griffin broke through the opposition ranks and as he was about to pull the trigger from inside the square, he was bumped by James Cook to spoil the broth.
There wasn’t an awful lot in the challenge but referee Kieran McShea justifiably felt that it did enough to derail Griffin and was deserving of a penalty. Griffin calmly placed the kick to Ciaran Friel’s left. Phil Pat Doherty from Urris had two stabs at goal at the other end, midway through the half, only to see both saved by Shane Leonard. St Naul’s, 1-6 to 0-2 in front at the break, were also very economical during that first half hour, kicking just a single wide to the five of Urris.
Interestingly at half-time, Michael Doherty kept his beleaguered panel on the pitch while St Naul’s headed for the changing rooms. And while some of the Urris players stood, others sat and although there was a semblance of a reaction upon the resumption when Darren Grant was on the mark, it was akin to the wasp stinging the elephant. The next five points all came from Griffin to leave the Mountcharles team in total cruise control, 1-11 to 0-3 ahead with little resistance being offered from Urris.
If the Inishowen team can be credited for one thing it was the fact they never resorted to indiscipline. In fact, McShea never felt the need to brandish a card all afternoon as the closing stages of the contest mirrored that of a challenge match. Urris did give their followers, those of whom remained in attendance, reason to cheer when the knocked over a handful of late scores with Jason Doherty scoring twice and Dean Kelly also pointing. Grant had a smash at goal but Leonard tipped over and the white flag was all Urris got when they sought a green. Cocooned in that little healthy spell from Urris, Griffin scored his 10th of the day.
Manager Brian McCabe can now take stock while Naomh Columba and Naomh Colmcille collide in a replay of the other semi-final. Supporters of St Naul’s will be acutely aware of their side’s wretched record in county intermediate finals having lost all six in which they competed but thanks to their simplistic win in Convoy on Sunday, there will be another opportunity.
St Naul’s: Shane Leonard; John Rose, Gavin Maguire, Conor McBrearty; Stuart Johnson, Daniel Friel, Aidan Kennedy; Conal McGinley, Fiachra McGinley; Shane Coneely (0-1), Danny McDyre (0-1), Pauric Coyle; Cathal Lowther, Stephen Griffin (1-10, 1-0 pen, 7f), Barry Griffin. Subs: Gallagher for McDyre (42), Lee McGroarty for Coyle (50), Jamie White for Coneely (55), Conor Mcgroarty for B Griffin (58), Lee McBrearty for Kennedy (60)
Urris: Ciaran Friel; Patrick Doherty, Ciaran Kelly, Sean Doherty; James Cook, Sean McDaid, Joe Grant; Liam Diver, Eddie Kelly; Phil Pat Doherty, Michael Toland; Darren Grant, Alan Friel (0-2, 2f), Paddy Doherty. Subs: Darren Grant (0-2), Jason Doherty (0-2), Dean Kelly (0-1)
Referee: Kieran McShea (Sean MacCumhaill’s).
Man of the match
With 1-10, few can begrudge Stephen Griffin picking up the award. The county panellist gave his side a real cutting edge, which is something that Urris certainly lacked all day. If his good form continues into the final, St Naul’s will have a decent opportunity to finally overturn their disappoining record and take the Cathal McLaughlin Cup home.
Sean MacCumhaill’s official Kieran McShea kept his notebook in his pocket on one of the least stressful days at the office he will ever have.
In a contest that was essentially one-way traffic from the start until well before the finish there was no major point of deviation. Once Griffin netted a penalty seven minutes before the break the writing was on the wall as St Naul’s even led 1-4 to 0-1 at that stage.