Carna/Caiseal unlucky in County Senior Final.

November 8, 2018

Salthill-Knocknacarra 0-11 Carna/Caiseal 2-2

Carna/Caiseal were unlucky not to win their first County Senior final at Pearse stadium.  Salthill knocknacarra with their array of proven inter-county stars, including team captain Maurice Sheridan, Michael Donnellan, Alan Kerins and Sean Armstrong, the last three operating in a slick, high-powered forward sextet, Salthill-Knocknacarra were expected to win this one with something to spare.

After Salthill-Knocknacarra won the toss, and captain Sheridan opted to play into the teeth of the gale, Carna/Caiseal played with massive heart and commitment and hit hard from the start.  When the teams went into the dressing-room level, 1-1 to Carna/Caiseal to 0-4 for Salthill, that looked to be a wise decision.

The city side had worked very hard for their four points, retaining possession intelligently. Donnellan (who had a mighty tussle with Carna/Caiseal captain Michael Cloherty, his former All-Ireland-winning team-mate with St. Jarlath’s), was constantly involved, as was eventual man-of-the-match Alan Kerins.

Carna/Caiseal had managed two scores, their goal coming in the 9th minute after a sweeping multi-player move ended with the ball in the hands of their U-21 star M. Ó Cathasaigh, whose shot was well blocked by Salthill keeper Cathal McGinley; on hand for the rebound, M. Ó Cathasaigh, who made no mistake. Their only other score in the half, with that gale, was a pointed free by Sean Ó Cathasaigh, so that at the break, didn’t look good for them.

Now surely, especially with all those stars up front for Salthill, the floodgates would open.

They didn’t, and credit for that to Carna/Caiseal, their fitness, their courage, and hard work all over the field, with no-one working harder than midfielder Marc Mac Fhlannacha (Clancy). It took eight minutes for Salthill to score three points, but a fine point in reply by Micheál Ó Cathasaigh made it just a two-point lead, and there it stayed till the 15th minute. Cue a penalty goal by the same Ó Cathasaigh in the 45th minute, after he was brought down in the square by Martie O’Connell, and how the stand reverberated to the roars of the faithful from out west. A point ahead with quarter of an hour to go, Carna/Caiseal were where they had wanted to be, noses in front coming to the finish.

Was there an upset on the cards? Indeed there was, and remained there right to the end. That it never happened was mainly due to the massive influence of Alan Kerins, whose pace and footballing brain caused constant problems for Carna/Caiseal. The same could also be said of corner-forwards Armstrong and Seamie Crowe, despite the best efforts of a full-back line in which corner-back Eamonn Ó Cuinneánn was outstanding.

Crowe got the equalising point, Kerins got another and Armstrong got two to give Salthill-Knocknacarra their three-point margin, but credit to Carna/Caiseal, they kept the issue in doubt right to the final whistle. No county final worthy of the name should be easy won; this one most certainly fitted that category.

Scorers: Salthill-Knocknacarra: S. Crowe 0-4 (0-2 frees); A. Kerins 0-3; S. Armstrong 0-3; M. Donnellan 0-1. Carna/Caiseal: M. Ó Cathasaigh 2-1; Sean Ó Cathasaigh 0-1.

CARNA/CAISEAL: D. Ó Dúbhda; E. Ó Cuinneáin, V. Ó Feinidh, D. Ó Suilleabháin; C. Ó Luideáin, M. Ó Clochartaigh (c), B. Ó Cathasaigh; C. Ó Cadhain; M. Mac Fhlannacha; Sean Ó Cathasaigh, N. Ó Cadhain, R. Ó Cualáin; M. Ó Cathasaigh, S. Ó Flatharta, C. Ó Maoilchiaráin. Subs: Seamus Ó Cathasaigh (Ó Flatharta 59).

SALTHILL-KNOCKNACARRA: C. McGinley; R. McTiernan, F. Hanley, C. Begley; M. O’Connell, G. Morley, A. McDermott; D. Gilmartin, M. Sheridan (c); A. Kerins, M. Donnellan, D. Burke; S. Crowe, S. Armstrong, S. Rabbitte. Subs: A. Callanan (Burke 44); J. Boylan (Sheridan 51); T. Burke (Callanan inj. 60); B. Dooney (Hanley inj. 63).

Referee: D. Ryder (Kilconly).