Saints blessed with enough ?Gall? to submerge Gaels

Story by Tom Kelly

Wednesday, 7th November, 2007 9:00am

St. Galls  (Belfast)   0-13 

Cavan Gaels    0-8

Cavan Gaels were sent cascading out of the Ulster Club Championship for 2007 in a ruthless but classy manner by a far superior St. Galls team from Belfast on Sunday last in Casement Park. Let there be no doubt about it from early on St. Galls looked winners and the fact that they achieved this impressive victory without the services for most of the game with star forward, Conor J. McGourty, speaks volumes.

  The Gaels were cleaned out in midfield in the first-half by the impressive Marty McCorry and Sean Burke, with lots of back up from half-backs and half- forwards and indeed full-forward Sean McGourty on occasions.  St. Galls now play the Derry Champions Glenullin with paddy Bradley and com-pany in the semi final.

  When  I  asked  the  Cavan Gaels team-manager Malachy O`Rourke after the game if this was a case of too many Gaels players performing well below par, or was the reality that they played as well as they were allowed, he quipped that was a good question and it was not easy to work out the percentages in relation to it but he added "certainly, I`m sure a lot of the boys will be disappointd with their performances".

  The Galls defence were confident in everything that they did and they used the ball to telling effect and ensured that Cavan Gaels forwards were isolated. The Galls defenders won a lot of the one on one races and many Cavan Gaels forwards found themseelves isolated.

Class side

  They reached the All-Ireland club final in 2005 and there is no doubt, that the class that got them so far on that occasion is still there in abundance.

  Kevin McGourty was a real thorn in the Gaels side and eventhough he was suppose to be playing at full-forward, his inspirational grafting out around the midfield area was one of the rocks on which the Gaels floundered.

  Cavan Gaels did not have anyone of this stature to raise their game sufficiently to recover from a dreadful first half, after which they were training by 0-8 to 0-2.

  In that defence Andrew McClean, Paul Veronica, Sean Kelly and Anto Healy towered over an out of sorts Cavan Gaels team.

  Normal services were also being delivered at midfield by Mark McCorry and Sean Burke in addition to the efforts of Kevin McGourty, who notched 3 points from play.

  Up front St. Galls had plenty of match winners and their captain Terry O`Neill led by example with some great running and support play and took two crucial points from play in the first half.

  Then there was the live wire forward Karl Stewart who tormented the Gaels defence with his incisive and cunning running and distribution and of course he got three points for good measure.

  Aodhan Gallagher was a tireless grafter in the half-forward line and was always available to take a pass or to make a run in support when when things were getting crowded.

  Conor J. McGourty did make an appearance and he scored one and missed one and was calling for passes as the minutes ebbed away. One has to ask what might have happened if C.J. had been on for the full hour.

  Kieran McGourty also came on a scored a point and had these two been in full flight for the game from the start, the Gaels might have been even licking more painful wounds.

Very disappointing

  To put it mildy Cavan Gaels were very disappointing over the hour and particularly in the first half and despite that the fact that management had worked hard to erase the slow start syndrome.

  It was a harsh blow that Seanie Johnston was not able to start, but you must remember they lined out without without equally as fine a talent in C. J. McGourty.

  The game is put into perspective by the fact that the only managed that looked capable of scoring and did score the Gaels two first half points was Michael Lyng. 

  He had the capacity to beat players and did leave Anto Healy stuck to the ground as he sped past for one point and he converted the other from a free after Healy had fouled Pauric Smith.

Johnston into the fray

  The arrival of Seanie Johnston and Martin Dunne did give the Gaels more options in the second half and when they started to run at the St. Galls defence and get a bit of momentum going, they looked quite capable of getting vital scores.

  Shrewd Galls manager Paul Duffin moved quickly to by putting Antrim defender Colin Brady on Lyng when he was posing a major threat.

  Then when Seanie Johnston came on, Duffin acted again and put Brady on him.

  In fairness Johnston ability to run at defences and take on defenders and beat them brought a much needed asset to the Gaels attack.

  Cavan Gaels started out with a two man full forward line and had so many men behind the bal at times that when the ball did go in, if was coming out faster, as they support men were too far adrift from the attacks.

  The whole strategy was rendered  meaningless and was revamped in the second half.  St. Galls did foul a lot in the first half but it was a meas to an end, primarily designed to stop Cavan Gaels developing anykind of running game.

  They committed 21 first-half fouls but they were all well adrift of the danger zone.

  St. Galls did loose their shape early in the second-half as the Gaels ran at them but they still managed to snatch enough points to keep the Gaels at bay.

  St. Galls got the opening point of the second-half, when Kevin McGourty launched a beauty from long range. Then the Gaels woke up and Sean Johnston put over a free.  In the eight minute Eoghan Elliott had to bring off an excellent save when star forward Karl Stewart blasted towards the right hand corner.

  The Gaels added another point  when Kevin Downes lashed over  from play.  Playing with a bit more flair the Gaels tacked on another point when Anthony Forde sent over a super long range point.

Lacking dash and enterprise

  But there was not enough collective enterprise and dash about the Cavan Gaels play to get a killer goal and St. Galls were content to contain the Gaels with sound defensive tactics and poach points on the counter attack. 

  It was a case of trading points down to the final whistle.  Seanie Johnston pointed a free after Kevin McGourty point, and then Michael Lyng converted a `45` in great style.

Final say

  Anto Healy fist a point and Anthony Forde got the Gaels final and eight point in the 28th minute. 

  That man `super sub` C. J. McGourty had the final say on the scoreboard when he fired over a point in the 33rd minute.

  To compound Cavan Gaels misery, they finished with 14 men, when their corner-back Shane McGlade was red carded, after picking up two yellow cards.

Teams and scorers

 St. Galls – Ronan Gallagher; Simon Kennedy, Andrew McClean, Colin Brady; Paul Veronica (0-1), Sean Kelly, Anto Healy (0-1); Mark McCorry, Sean Burke; Terry O`Neill (0-2), Kevin Niblock (0-1), Aidhan Gallagher; Karl Stewart (0-3), Kevin McGourty (0-3), Sean Burns.

  Subs – Kieran McGourty (0-1) for Sean Burns (27 minutes), Conor J. McGourty (0-1) for Mark McCorry (56 minutes), and Mark Kelly for Anto Healy (59 minutes).

  Cavan Gaels – Eoghan Elliott; Cathal Collins, Darren Rabbitt, Shane McGlade;  Gavin Duffy, Eamonn Reilly (captain), Pauric Smith; Enda King, Nicholas Walsh; Kevin Downes (0-1), Anthony Forde (0-2), Paul O`Donnell; Dominic Reilly, Sean Higgins, Michael Lyng (0-3).

 Subs – Gearoid Collins for Gavin Duffy (22 minutes), Sean Johnston(0-2) for Paul O`Donnell (30 minutes), and Karl Crotty for Pauric Smith and Cormac Nelligan for Kevin Downes (54 minutes).

  Referee – Jimmy McKee, (Armagh).