Breslin Cup Semi-Final
Thursday June 15
Sean Stinsons 0-14 St James, Aldergrove 0-11
Sean Stinsons qualified for the Breslin Cup Final on Thursday night after a pulsating and enthralling semi-final with Aldergrove. Three points separated the sides after the hour but both these teams threw everything they had in their armoury in a ding dong battle.
The scores were tied on eight separate occasions in an intense but highly skilful game of football. In a tight match it was always going to come down to fine margins and unfortunately for the ‘Grove the match and momentum swung heavily in Sean Stinsons favour after influential half forward Fionn McDonagh was sent off for a second yellow card. Aldergrove were leading but one point when McDonagh was dismissed but with ten minutes remaining Sean Stinsons went for the jugular. Aldergrove battled superbly in the closing stages and had chances at the death to draw the match but Stinsons and midfielder Oisin Doherty in particular turned the screw when it mattered the most. Aldergrove only managed one more score when they were reduced to 14 men but it was only in the last five minutes that Stinsons opened any sort of meaningful advantage and scored five of the last six points to seal their spot in the Breslin Cup Final.
Playing into a strong wind in the first half, Sean Stinsons came out of the blocks fastest and could have scored a goal with their first meaningful attack. John O’Kane with the chance but Oisin McGarry was equal to his effort. They didn’t have long to wait for their first score, Conor Crossey splitting the posts in the second minute.
Aldergrove had an early goal chance themselves, Kian Jones with the effort but David McNicholl saved superbly to deny the St James man. A free from Jones followed to tie the sides before a brace of points from Doherty and Crossey opened gave Sean Stinsons a deserving early advantage. Points from both ‘Grove corner forwards, Jones and Michael Blaney tied the sides mid-way through the half but again Stinsons hit back with two points in the 22nd minute to open a two point lead again.
The home side were well on top and but for the brilliance of Aldergrove ‘keeper McGarry they would have been further ahead. McGarry denied Jack McAleese and Ruairi Hagan with point blank saves and his side reacted by ending the first half superbly. Points from Conor Morris, Blaney and Jones gave Aldergrove a slender one point advantage at the short whistle. The half time score was Aldergrove 0-6 Sean Stinsons 0-5.
Surprisingly, the strong wind had little effect in the first half and it was much the same in the second half. Sean Stinsons restored parity soon after the restart and Doherty’s first free of the match gave them the lead but the lead was to change hands twice more before with Oisin Graham and Ryan McCarthy in superb form for Aldergrove. They had upped their intensity levels in the second half and were giving the Stinsons defence insurmountable problems with their ingenuity and direct running.
Leading by one point mid-way through the second half, substitute Aidan Donnell had a superb goal chance but again McNicholl was Sean Stinsons savour, spreading himself and narrowing the target for Donnell to aim for.
The undoubted turning point came with ten minutes to go when referee Kevin Parke sent off Fionn McDonagh for a second yellow card. Sean Stinsons had control of the game and with Doherty instrumental, rallied in the final quarter to run out deserving three point winners.
Oisin McGarry; Sean Bradley; Corey Fogarty; Declan Gough; Lee McCusker; Emmett Irvine; David Aitken; Oisin Graham (0-2); Aaron O’Connor; Fionn McDonagh; Conor Morris (0-2); Conall Quinn; Michael Blaney (0-3); Ryan McCarthy; Kian Jones (0-4, 1 free)
Subs: Aidan Donnell for A O’Connor (37 mins)
David McNicholl; James Lennon; Kevin O’Kane; Shane McGuigan; Ruairi McAleese; Ruairi McGuigan; Patrick Dougan; Oisin Doherty (0-6, 4 frees); Connor Marron; Conor Paul Crossey (0-4, 1 free); Ruairi Hagan (0-1); Dylan Hawksford; Aidan McAleese (0-1); John O’Kane (0-2); Jack McAleese
Referee: Kevin Parke (St Enda’s)