ACFL Division Two
St Ergnat’s, Moneyglass 1-6 Gort na Mona 4-10
Saturday October 27
By Brendan McTaggart
On the 29th July, Gort na Mona travelled back up the M2 after an 11 point defeat to Tír na nÓg. With four matches remaining, not many gave the Turf Lodge men a chance of promotion but their conundrum was simple. Win their remaining matches and they would be promoted. On Saturday afternoon they were 60 minutes away from realising their hopes of promotion. The Gorts put their disappointment of defeat in the Intermediate championship final to one side and comprehensively sealed their promotion and in turn claiming the Division Two title with a 13 point win over St Ergnat’s thanks largely to a first half hat-trick from Shane Scullion and another major by marauding full back Tommy McGoran before the half time whistle.
It was a clinical performance from the Turf Lodge men and in truth after Scullion’s first goal in the fourth minute, the result never looked in doubt. Playing into a stiff wind in the first half with soft underfoot conditions, the Gorts never looked troubled. Playing like a team who have been on a roll and still with a point to prove.
The second half was a controlled performance littered with moments of brilliance. Darren ‘Diesel’ Boyd showing his full array of skills with an exhibition of point taking after the restart. His 36th minute effort from the left-hand side line with the outside of the boot the highlight of his six points over the hour.
A second yellow and subsequent red card for defender Christopher Devlin came too late to have any impact on the outcome. The Gorts had already reshuffled their pack to protect what lead they had. As the result from Musgrave Park filtered through to Sean McKenna and his management team, they managed the remaining time with little trouble.
The opening quarter of the match belonged to Gort forward, Shane Scullion. Opening the scoring after three minutes, he bagged the first goal with the next attack. Scullion proved to be in the right place at the right time for the Turf Lodge men. Padraig McHugh’s shot came back off the upright and with Moneyglass ‘keeper Mark Carey scrambling, Scullion made the most of the opportunity and slotted to the bottom corner.
If there was hint of fortune with his first goal, the second was the polar opposite but synonymous with how the Gorts have plotted their route to promotion. A flowing move involving a long ball from Patrick McCaffrey into Brendan Corr. The Gort full forward held off the Moneyglass challenges before finding Scullion. With the Moneyglass defence scrambling, Scullion side stepped one challenge before dummying another and showing composure, he found the bottom corner for the second time in four minutes.
If there were any Gort na Mona nerves in the opening exchanges, Scullion’s early goals obliterated them. Moneyglass scored their first point of the match when Fergal Duffin left his half back berth to split the posts in the 9th minute with what was his and St Ergnat’s first shot at the goals, such was the dominance of the Turf Lodge men in the opening exchanges. Duffin’s point was Moneyglass’ last and only score of the opening 30 minutes though.
The St Ergnat’s men looked to find some form of footing in the game and had a golden opportunity when they were awarded a penalty in the 11th minute. Connor Connolly deemed to have brought down Moneyglass corner forward Conaill Prenter but Colm Duffin’s penalty was superbly saved by Thomas McCaffrey, diving at full stretch to his right hand side to palm the ball to safety.
Darren Boyd took Gort’s lead to seven points with his first point of the match midway through the first half and while Moneyglass were enjoying more possession, they rarely looked to threaten a well organised Gort na Mona defence. Wary of the visitors attack after the opening double salvo, they played Tiernan Duffin as a permanent sweeper and were happy to concede Gort kick outs and while the Turf Lodge men didn’t find space as readily as they did in the opening quarter, they were happy to retain possession and probe where they could while remaining in control of the game.
With five minutes of the first half remaining, Scullion completed his hat-trick and Brendan Corr was the provider once again. Recycling the ball, Corr passed to Scullion and the Gort na Mona man did the rest from 10 yards out.
The Gorts third goal didn’t exactly come against the run of play but it did come during Moneyglass’ best period of the match. The home side were creating chances but couldn’t convert so to concede a fourth goal soon after was a hammer blow for the St Ergnat’s men. Brendan Corr again in the mix, fighting for the lose ball when Thomas McGoran collected the ball and found the top corner with a sublime finish with three minutes of the first half remaining.
Darren Boyd’s second point (free) of the half came on the stroke of half time to underline Gorts superiority and give the Turf Lodge men a 4-3 to 0-1 lead at half time.
Moneyglass plodded their way through the first half like a team who had nothing to play for and they came up against a Gort na Mona side who were treating this match like another final. The home side will have been hugely disappointed with their efforts in the first 30 minutes but they got off to a better start in the second half. Full forward Colm Duffin finding the bottom corner with a riffled drive following a superb move that cut through the Gort defence after just three minutes of the second half.
Brendan Burns and Jack McCoy swapped scores before Darren Boyd landed the score of the match. 35 yards out from a side line and ‘Diesel’ had judged the elements perfectly to open a nine point lead once again. The Gort forward landed another sublime point from the opposite wing moments later to take his side’s lead to double figures once more and while a brace of points from Colm Duffin and Ferghal Duffin breathed fresh impetus into the Moneyglass challenge midway through the second half, the visitors were in control.
Dropping deep and looking to counter, the news had already filtered through from Musgrave Park. A win and the Turf Lodge men were promoted as champions and Sean McKenna’s men were in no mood to let an eight point lead slip in the final quarter of a long season.
Substitute Niall Melaney and Darren Boyd split the posts for the Turf Lodge side before Tiernan Duffin abandoned his defensive duties to fire over the black spot.
The city men were reduced to 14 men in the 53rd minute when Christopher Devlin was sent off for a second yellow card but the time wasn’t there for St Ergnat’s to make their numerical advantage count.
Midfielder Niall Boyd split the posts for the home side with a superb score from over 40 yards out with the outside of his boot but Gort na Mona had the final say with Padraig Mulvenna and Darren Boyd raising the white flags before the full time whistle.
A slick and clinical performance from Gort na Mona. They have proved to be the best team in the Division over the 16 games and to put in a performance like they did on Saturday just seven days after defeat in a championship final is a testament to the squad’s character and their management team. If the tunes that came out of their changing rooms at the end of the match is anything to go by, the celebrations will last for a day or two.
Well done Gort!
Moneyglass: Mark Carey; Eamon Kelly, Tiernan Duffin, Sean Kelly; Ferghal Duffin, Conor Boyd, Jervis Weir; James McElmeel, Niall Boyd; Jack McCoy, Padraig Mackle, Dermot McErlain; Patrick McCormick, Colm Duffin, Conaill Prenter.
Gort na Mona: Thomas McCaffrey; Connor Connolly, Thomas McGoran, Christopher Devlin; David McErlean, Gary Doyle, Padraig Mulvenna; Padraig McCaffrey, Christopher Carson; Desi McClean, Darren Boyd, Brendan Burns; Padraig McHugh, Brendan Corr, Shane Scullion.
Scorers for Moneyglass: Colm Duffin 1-1; Ferghal Duffin 0-2; Tiernan Duffin 0-1; Niall Boyd 0-1; Jack McCoy 0-1
Scorers for Gort na Mona: Shane Scullion 3-1; Darren Boyd 0-6 (2 f’s); Thomas McGoran 1-00; Padraig Mulvenna 0-1; Brendan Burns 0-1; Niall Melaney 0-1
Referee: Karol Doherty (Rasharkin)