THE enduring rivalry between Glasgow Gaels and Dunedin Connollys has continued to build in recent seasons. Meeting each other in all six senior finals—League and Championship—in the past three years, the tale has been in Connollys favour each time.
This year seemed to nearly be a different story. After losing by the minimum in the League Final earlier in the year, the Gaels felt this was their chance to break through.
With the sides drawing level at full time in the Championship Final it was anyone’s match, it was not to be for the Gaels, however, and Connollys, with their more clinical edge, once again came out on top.
The match started with tensions running high, and points from Derek Harvey and Richie Stevenson put the Gaels up by two in the opening 10 minutes of the match. However, Connollys were able to answer with points of their own to level the scoring at 0-05 to 0-05, 20 minutes into the first half.
There was a flash of controversy when Connollys talisman, Sean Malee saw a black card for his trip on Gaels midfielder, Paul Duffy. However, with a powerful bench, Connollys replaced Sean Malee with eventual Man of the Match, Damien Keane, and at half time, it was 0-05 to 0-06 in favour of the defending champions.
Connollys started the second half in their usual gunslinger fashion, quickly going up by three with some well-worked points from midfielders Aldo Matassa and Brian McAteer. The momentum changed, however, when a bobbled high ball from Dunedin’s goalkeeper, Tony Harbison, found the back of the net via Gaels’ forward David Comiskey putting the score at 1-08 to 0-09 points with 15 minutes to go.
Tensions were raised for both teams as both Gaels and Connollys players saw yellow cards for tough tackles. A barrage of frees for Connollys in the last 10 minutes, in particular frees taken by Damien Keane, brought the match to close at a draw at 1-10 to 0-13.
With two 10-minute halves of extra time looming, it was a chance for each side to regroup and was certainly a test of match fitness given the intense physicality of normal time. With the first ten minutes of extra time, still unable to separate the sides, the frustration crept in and was joined quickly by fatigue.
Conor Higgins and David Comiskey, two solid players throughout the entirety of the match saw their efforts fall just short, and Peter Smart (0-04(f)) put the ball just wide of the posts. The clinical edge saw Connollys through in the end as two well-taken frees from veteran Damien Keane put the final score at 1-11 to 0-16, leaving the men from the capital to celebrate another championship victory (above).
1. J. Sheehan 2. E. Leonard 3. D. Kellegher (C) 4. D. O’Hanlon 5. C. Higgins 6. P. Smart (0-04(f)) 7. JP Langan 8. P. Duffy 9. C. Curran 10. D. McGovern 11. J. O’Sullivan (0-01) 12. A. Kerlin (0-01) 13. D. Comiskey (1-02) 14. D. Harvey (0-01) 15. R. Stevenson (0-01(f)) Subs Used: 17 S. Moran 18 S. McMahon 19 A. Farrell 21 N. McParland 22 S. Burke, 23 C. Woods
1. T. Harbison 2. A. Moore 3. D. O’Brien (C) 4. C. Horan 5. T. Fitzgerald 6. B. Russell 7. B. Parsons 8. A Matassa 9. B. McAteer 10. D. Loftus 11. P. Reen 12. R. McGurk
13. F. Molloy 14. S. Malee 15. E. Newton. Subs used: 16. A. Ward, 17. D. Keane 18. V. Moriarty 22. J. Dolan