|Conefrey secures dramatic Fenagh victory|
St. Caillin’s ................... 0-12 Glencar/Manor ............. 0-11
by John Connolly
Conefrey’s injury time winner came after an absorbing match that went one way and then another and capped off a dramatic match with great scores, fine fielding, a sending off, terrible misses and two fit and committed teams that gave everything in pursuit of victory.
The victory for Fenagh was also some small measure of revenge for their dramatic championship defeat to Glencar/Manor in the 1999 County Final. It may not make up for the heartbreak of losing a County Final but it will go some way to soothing the hurt.
The game was strange in that Fenagh started as if they were going to blow Glencar/Manor off the field, then faded as the North Leitrim men staged an impressive comeback, took over again before hanging on for life at the end.
They could have had two goals yet could also have conceded three if Manor were a little more accurate. But over the hour, their strength and consistency deservedly won them the honours.
And it was in midfield where St. Caillin’s stood out - Peter Guckian may not be the fastest player in the world but last Sunday, he was all important as he won possession time after time in the middle of the field and linked between defence and attack.
With Glencar/Manor struggling so badly around the middle of the field, Fenagh always held an advantage in that sector. And with an impressive half-back lending a hand in the battle for possession, Fenagh had an important stronghold.
And that vital was as
Fenagh’s attack never really caught fire consistently. Pat Guckian burst into life during the second half but was very quiet during the first. Ciaran Duignan too had his moments but they weren’t as free flowing as they would have liked against a tight Manor backline.
Fenagh’s hunger was another important factor - they tore into the game from the very beginning and while they may have faded out of the game at times, there was no doubting their desire to end the season on a high note.
Glencar/Manor will probably wonder how they lost this one, having had gilt-edged goal chances hit the crossbar, the keeper and go wide! But their inability to get enough ball into their inside forwards and lack of support for them was probably their undoing.
Manor’s corner-forwards looked sharp and dangerous as Paul Boylan and James Glancy stood out. Both have speed and used it to great effect along with their skills to cause the Fenagh defence some problems. But they lacked the physical power to punch holes in the rearguard and they were often too isolated from their teammates.
Keeper Sean Boylan also underlined just how vital he is to Manorhamilton with a couple of great saves, one in particular from Gerry Butler a spectacular effort as he kept his team in the game. Michael O’Callaghan also stood out with great reading of the ball and tenacious defending while Dermot McMorrow also caught the eye for the North Leitrim side.
Another factor was their slow start in both halves as they let Fenagh build up four point leads on both occasions. The ability to come back is a terrific bonus but on occasions, it won’t work and it caught out the Manor men this time.
The victory was vitally important for a St. Caillin’s team that many believe time is running out on. Since 1995, Fenagh have little to show for their consistency and talent and many feel that time is passing them by.
But looking at the teamsheet last Sunday, younger players are coming to the fore - Peter Honeyman, Francis Duignan, Joe Conefrey and Brendan Flynn in defence along with Enda McKiernan and Ciaran Duignan upfront all have ability to add to the experience and power of the Peter and Patrick Guckian, Padraig and Niall Flynn, Ray Greenan and Ray Tubman.
If they can overcome whatever afflicts them in the championship, their long famine may yet end but the feeling is the breakthrough must come soon.
For Manor, the defeat was disappointing but also promising of a bright future. There is
now a young and experienced spine to their team with the likes of Paul Boylan, James Glancy & Pat Gilmartin carrying promise for the future.
Ciaran Duignan opened the scoring with a great point under pressure and in little space in the first minutes. Brendan Flynn then pounced for two scores, one as he raided unmarked from defence and the other from a free, to leave a rampant St. Caillin’s three points to the clear after five minutes.
However, Fenagh then had two wides, including a bad miss from Brendan Flynn, but Patrick Guckian burst through two men after ten minutes to score. But Glencar/Manor finally started to stir with a Mark Rooney wide.
But they did score after thirteen minutes when Dominic Kelly swung a great effort from the wing over the bar following a penetrating Mark Rooney pass. That score inspired Manor and Aidan Rooney burst through two tackles and planted the ball straight over the bar from the kickout.
And straight from that kickout, Mark Rooney won possession near the wing, cut in and sent a lovely shot over the bar after fifteen minutes. Ciaran Duignan hit a wide before an Aidan Rooney free with eight minutes of the half left levelled the scores.
Just seconds later, Manor had a terrible miss when a high ball saw James Glancy field behind the defender but, with only the keeper to beat, he planted his shot wide of the post.
Paul Boylan and James Kelly both shot wide before Patrick Gilmartin won the ball from a kickout and sent over a lovely shot after twenty-five minutes for the lead. However, good work by Joe Conefrey and Peter Guckian set Ciaran Duignan up for a brilliant point almost immediately.
A great long Aidan Rooney pass resulted in James Glancy putting the North Leitrim men back in front but a Brendan Flynn free, following a foul on Enda McKiernan, ensured that the scores remained level at the break at 0-6 apiece despite bad wides from Alan Sweeney and Aidan Rooney.
The second half opened with wides apiece for James Glancy and T.P. McLoughlin, who drove a low shot wide of the posts when a goal seemed certain. But Ciaran Duignan and Dessie Bohan set up Gerry Butler for a nice fifth minute point. Mark Rooney had a bad miss from a free while Paul Boylan also went close.
Ciaran Duignan also put a free wide but a quick free to an unmarked Patrick Guckian saw Fenagh extend their lead after nine minutes. Aidan Rooney responded with a free to narrow the gap but Manor had an escape when Sean Boylan deflected a punched Gerry Butler over the effort at almost point-blank range with a spectacular save.
Dara Barden and Cathal McEneaney entered the fray for their teams but Manor had another very close escape
when Patrick Guckian was sent clear one on one and his cheeky and accurate lob over keeper Sean Boylan was heading for the net only for Michael O’Callaghan to arrive from nowhere to punch the ball clear from under the bar.
However, Fenagh went three points clear when Boylan tipped a dangerous Barden shot over the bar after sixteen minutes as the Kelly brothers both hit wides for Manor.
And Fenagh looked to have established a match winning lead when a break by Enda McKiernan set up Pat Guckian for a twenty-first minute point. However, they still needed keeper Paul Gill to make an inspired save from a Patrick Gilmartin fisted effort when he connected with a low Aidan Rooney ball.
Dermot McMorrow put the ball back over the bar but Manor seemed to have lost any hope when Mark Rooney was dismissed for dissent after he vigorously protested against a decision of referee Sean McCartan to call a free against his brother Aidan.
Pat Guckian shot wide but Manor began to stage a late comeback. Aidan Rooney scored a great point with less than three minutes to go and Alan Sweeney left the minimum between the teams when he finished off an excellent move a minute later.
And Glencar/Manor looked as if they would snatch victory when they broke free only to watch in despair when Pat Gilmartin’s rasper of a shot came crashing off the crossbar with keeper Gill well beaten in the last minute of normal time.
Just seconds later, however, Aidan Rooney tied the scores when he converted a free after a foul on himself and the game looked to have swung in their favour. But that reckoned without one more final throw of the dice from Fenagh.
They attacked in numbers and kept the ball alive amidst huge Glencar/Manor pressure and then up popped corner-back Joe Conefrey to score an excellent point just into injury time. Manor tried to fight back
but found they could not break through the wall of red shirts in front of them and Fenagh held on for a famous victory.
Paul Gill, Peter Honeyman, Ray Greenan, Joe Conefrey (0-1), Brendan Flynn (0-3), Francis Duignan, Ray Tubman, Peter Guckian, Niall Flynn, Enda McKiernan, Ciaran Duignan (0-2), Dessie Bohan, Gerry Butler (0-2), T.P. McLoughlin, Pat Guckian (0-3). Subs: Dara Barden (0-1) for McLoughlin (42 mins), Donal Leydon for McKiernan, Ciaran Redican, Paul Conefry, Kenneth Kilkenny, Kevin Dowd.
Leydon for McKiernan (61 mins).
Sean Boylan, Michael O’Callaghan, Shane Devaney, Kenneth McMorrow, Dermot McMorrow (0-1), Oliver McBride, Dominic Kelly (0-1), James Kelly, Alan Sweeney (0-1), Mark Rooney (0-1), Aidan Rooney (0-5), Pat Gilmartin (0-1), James Glancy (0-1), James Gilmartin, Paul Boylan. Sub: Cathal McEneaney for J. Gilmartin (43 mins).
Ref: Sean McCartan.