AIB All-Ireland Intermediate Hurling semi-final
St Galls 2-04-1-13 Oranmore Maree
By Kevin Herron from Parnell Park
St Galls AIB All-Ireland Intermediate hurling dreams were ended at the semi-final stage by Oranmore Maree this afternoon as the Galway champions cruised to the final with a 1-13-2-04 win at Parnell Park.
The Milltown side will have rued their inability to press home a numerical advantage as Oranmore were reduced to 14-men on the 22nd minute after Alan Bannon tangled with Conor Burke off the ball and referee Patrick Murphy flashed a red-card in Bannon’s direction.
Leading 0-07-0-04 at the break the Galway champions hit the net through Sean McInerney and kept St Galls scoreless until the dying embers of the second period.
Despite Karl Stewart receiving a second yellow card which evened up the player count, the Galls hit two injury-time goals through CJ McGourty and substitute Antoin McCaffrey to restore a little pride at the end of a testing afternoon for the Antrim champions in the capital.
Both sides spurned early opportunities to hit the front through Niall Burke and Tomas O’Ciarain – both from the placed ball but it was Oranmore who hit the first score through corner-forward Ross Malone, though St Galls restored parity after five minutes through Sean McAreavey.
It took Galway county star Niall Burke until the midway point in the opening half before he converted his first free of the afternoon – he had spurned three opportunities until that point but turned provider for namesake Alan to edge the Galway side 0-02-0-01 to the good.
CJ McGourty levelled for St Galls through his first placed ball of the afternoon and Karl Stewart then missed the chance to give the Milltown side the advantage after ten minutes.
There was plenty of spice from the first whistle and a flare-up between Kieran McGourty and Gearoid McInerney resulted in both being cautioned by referee Patrick Murphy.
Oranmore restored their lead on the quarter hour mark from a converted Niall Burke free, his first successful placed ball of the afternoon.
A second would follow two-minutes later and at the other end CJ McGourty was off target from a 65′ and missed the opportunity to close the gap.
The first major talking point came shortly after the 20 minute mark – St Galls were awarded a free by referee Murphy and away from the whistlers attention Conor Burke appeared to be struck by Alan Bannon.
After consultation with his linesman and umpires Murphy proceeded to brandish a red-card to Bannon and the resulting free was converted by CJ McGourty to reduce the deficit (0-04-0-03).
Niall Burke (free)restored Oranmore’s two-point advantage – though a superb angled point by CJ McGourty put the bare minimum between the sides and was the wing-half forwards third successive score.
The fourteen men finished the half stronger however with Niall Burke adding two further scores – a third successive free and his first from play ensured his side would lead 0-07-0-04 at the break despite their numerical disadvantage.
Oranmore increased their lead on the 37th minute through a fifth converted Niall Burke free and the Galway side all but killed the game off from the resulting puck-out.
Piarais McCaffrey’s quick puck was turned over by Padraic Keane who burst forward and offloaded to Sean McInerney and the corner-forward batted Keane’s hand-passed effort past McCaffrey to give Oranmore a 1-08-0-04 lead.
Two further Niall Burke free’s brought the wing-half forwards tally to 0-08 (0-07f) – St Galls had failed to put Oranmore goalkeeper Rory McInerney under any considerable pressure, on the 40th minute a Niall O’Neill floated a high ball in on top of McInerney but it evaded the McGourty brothers CJ and Kieran who were queuing up inside the area.
Oranmore were firmly in the ascendancy and Niall Burke would add three further scores to his tally before the afternoon was out – one from a 65′ and the other two from frees to make it 1-13-0-04.
St Galls numerical advantage disappeared a minute from time as Karl Stewart was dismissed for a second yellow card offence and the Milltown men were staring down the barrel of a 12-point defeat. However they restored some pride in injury-time when an Aodhan Gallagher’s high ball into the danger area was flicked to the net by CJ McGourty to make it 1-13-1-04.
A second goal followed seconds later as Gallagher again played the providers role and substitute Antoin McCaffrey made a great catch under pressure and turned to rifle the ball to the net past ‘keeper Rory McInerney.
In the end the two goals were little more than consolation however as Oranmore Maree booked their place in the AIB Intermediate Hurling final but it was indication of what they were capable off and they will look back wondering why it took so long to find their spark.
St Galls: P McCaffrey, S Morrison, J McDaniel, A Hannaway, N O’Neill, S Burke, A Gallagher, K Stewart, J Hopkins, T O’Ciarain, K McGourty, C McGourty (1-03, 0-02f), M Donnelly, C Burke, S McAreavey (0-01). Subs: R Irvine for A Hannaway (30+3 mins), M Napier for M Donnelly (42 mins), A Healy for C Burke (48 mins), A McCaffrey (1-00) for K McGourty (58 mins), G McGreevy for J Hopkins (58 mins).
Oranmore Maree: R McInerney, S Bannon, S Geoghegan, A Bannon, M Hanniffy, G McInerney, L Keane, N Geoghegan, R Maher, M Quinn, A Burke (0-01), N Burke (0-11, 0-09f; 0-01 65′), R Malone (0-01), P Keane, S McInerney (1-00). Subs: E Burke for A Burke (54 mins), S Dunne for M Quinn (54 mins- blood sub), N Qualter for L Keane (58 mins), S Dunne for R Maher (58 mins), M Keane for P Keane (61 mins).
Referee: Patrick Murphy (Ceatharlach)