Ulster SFC Club final 2009
St. Gall’s 0-16 Loup 0-5
St Gall’s showed their All-Ireland credentials as they hammered Loup by 11 points in Sunday’s AIB Ulster Club Football final at Pairc Esler.
Loup led 0-2 to 0-1 early on and were level at 0-4 to 0-4 with favourites Gall’s but the Belfast side moved into a 0-8 to 0-4 lead by half-time.
Gall’s completely dominated the second half with CJ McGourty bringing his tally to six points by the finish.
Ciaran Devlin’s 52nd-minute point was Loup’s only second-half score.
Loup were hoping to repeat their surprise 2003 Ulster final triumph over the Belfast side but they were outclassed on this occasion.
St Gall’s opened the scoring after only 12 seconds with Kevin Niblock slotting the point after Sean Burke had won possession at the throw-in.
As Gall’s continued their fast start, they appeared to be denied a stonewall penalty when Niblock was hauled down by Loup goalkeeper Shane McGuckin.
However, Pat McEnaney waved away St Gall’s protests and Loup compounded the Antrim champions’ frustration at the other end as Paul McVey pointed a fine free.
As Gall’s players continued to protest about McEnaney’s decision not to award the spot-kick, Loup then edged ahead as Johnny McBride pointed another free for the Derry champions.
However, Gall’s midfielder Aodhan Gallagher channelled his frustration in the correct manner by storming upfield to slot a superb individual score.
Quick Gall’s ball yielded a further free for CJ McGourty in the 11th minute after Loup’s Sean Michael O’Neill was booked for a high challenge on Mark Kelly.
Loup were proving resilient and a Paul McFlynn free brought the sides level two minutes later but CJ McGourty’s second point put Gall’s ahead within 60 seconds.
However, Loup were displaying all their renowned doggedness as Paul McVey brought the sides level again after McEnaney had annoyed Gall’s again by over-ruling a line-ball award for the Belfast club.
CJ McGourty restored Gall’s lead in the 24th minute with a classy score from play and there was finally some daylight between the teams when Rory Gallagher was content to take his point when he had a sniff of a goal chance.
The lead then became three in the 28th minute when the superb McGourty scored his fourth point of the day as Gall’s finally began to translate their superiority on to the scoreboard.
Gall’s still had time to register another score before the break as centre half-forward Kevin McGourty released Sean Burke to slot over the bar, with the midfielder content to take his point instead of aiming low.
Loup needed quick scores after the break but instead CJ McGourty kicked another superb free won by the impressive Niblock.
St Gall’s lead looked impregnable at seven when Anthony Healy and Kieran McGourty knocked over further quickfire points for the Antrim champions.
It was all becoming a procession as Terry O’Neill slotted another score as Gall’s yet again won the ball in midfield from a McGuckin kick-out.
To their credit, Loup tried to rally as they went close to grabbing the potential lifeline of a goal on two occasions in as many minutes.
Firstly, Gall’s goalkeeper Ronan Gallagher dropped a Paul McFlynn free before the ball was cleared but the custodian redeemed himself seconds later as he saved a close-range effort with an out-stretched foot after another McFlynn free had pin-balled around the small square.
Loup’s frustrations were only increased when Gall’s strode downfield to notch a further score from Niblock and CJ McGourty’s free then extended the advantage to a whopping 10 points.
Ciaran Devlin’s 52nd-minute point was Loup’s first score in 31 minutes which told its own story of St Gall’s superiority.
Rory Gallagher restored Gall’s 10-point margin four minutes from time and winning manager Lenny Harbinson was then able to give substitute Darren O’Hare some late action with Kevin McGourty withdrawn.
Another sub Sean Burns tagged on another Gall’s point as Harbinson continued to empty his bench.
The win sets up an All-Ireland semi-final meeting with Connacht champions Corofin in February and on this evidence, it will take a very good team to beat St Gall’s in the spring.