Tense Championship Semi Final Draw with O Mahonys

November 7, 2018

This evening, for the third time in as many years, the intermediate side played in the championship semi finals. Their opponents were the 2013 favourites for the title, Sean O Mahonys. The two teams had met in last years competition with the Joes coming out as surprise winners. What a difference a year makes, in between the Joes league form had been very strong with the O Mahonys division one form dipping from the heights of last year. This and the comprehensive win that the Joes had scored in the previous round sent the Joes into the match with the favourites tag weighing on them. But the shrewd observers knew that this would count for nothing and were expecting a tight game, which they very much got! So in a floodlit Clan na Gael pairc, on a very mild and dead evening the battle to make the big final began.

The Joes were quick off the blocks, winning the throw in, a Sean Mc Quillan ball in found Conal O Hanlon, who struck over. From the kickout O Hanlon passed to Alan Quigley who was running off the shoulder and he doubled the early advantage. But the O Mahonys were not long about getting going themselves, with a Conor Finnegan free getting them off the mark, before Alan Watters broke forward to level the match with only five minutes played. And so the tone of the first half was set, a high quality, hard hitting proper game of championship football with never more than two points between the sides at any stage.

The town side were level for only seconds though, as Peter Mulligan flicked the kickout to Conall Smyth, who drove on and over. Great fielding from O Hanlon with three men around him saw him earn a 21 yard free, which Quigley then despatched to restore the Joes two point lead. But back came the O Mahonys again, a good Stephen Kilcoyne point was followed by one from Liam Dullaghan and we were now level at four a piece and 12 minutes played.

A Finnegan dead ball put the O Mahonys in front for the first time, with Quigley responding with a dead ball of his own. O Hanlon hit a fifty short to Peter Mulligan, who boomed one over from forty yards out and Joes edged in front, but again the men from the quay hit back with Stephen Fisher kicking over from out on the right. An O Hanlon free went over, but with his first touch of the ball, substitute David Dowling made an immediate impact, by levelling matters. A straightforward free for Finnegan was closely followed by Peter Mulligan showing well for the ball and pointing to level the game for the seventh time in the half. An enthralling half of football, where the Joes shaded matters in the possession stakes, but the slightly more economical O Mahonys kept the game level at the short whistle.

Full Time Score: St Josephs 0-8, Sean O Mahonys 0-8

The third quarter of this match produced very little of the quality of football that had went before it and definitely not a quarter of football that the Joes will want to look back on. Peter Brennan suffered a blood injury in the throw in and this, followed by a further injury to Daire Smyth, meant that it took a couple of minutes for the football to get going. When it did get going the Joes held most of the territory and possession, but failed to capitalise on it and it was super sub David Dowling who opened the scoring in the half for the men from the quay. The Joes were not the only ones that were showing nerves though and the O Mahonys efficiency in goals soon deserted them also before Dowling stepped up again to stretch their tender lead out to two points, as he began to exert himself on the game to effect. A questionable O Mahonys free was converted by Kilcoyne on the 15 minute mark to see three between the sides for the first time in the game.

It was shortly after this that the Joes eventually got moving in this half and the man to finish the move was Quigley, striking over from the right corner. But Kilcoyne showed that anything Quigley could he, he could match, or maybe even better, with a similar effort of his own. The game started to move as it had done in the first now and from the kickout the ball was worked forward, for Conall Smyth to point. But the tricolours then fell asleep at an O Mahonys free and Liam Dullaghan sneaked in to collect an easy ball and finish well. They had hit the thirteen point mark with twenty minutes of play gone and restored their three point advantage.

But then a three minute scoring burst saw the Joes regain the momentum and quash that lead. It started with a Quigley free from the right corner. From the kickout Derek Mulligan did something that the Joes had not been doing in the half so far, he won the dirty ball and when substitutes Shane Mc Quillan and Tomas Smyth combined, with the later kicking over. The game was becoming very broken up with only five minutes of normal time remaining and when Conall Smyth worked an interchange with David Reilly he was working his way in on goal before being dragged down just outside the penalty area. O Hanlon tapped over the routine free and the game was level at 13 apiece and five minutes plus injury time to play. But just as quickly as the momentum had swung in the Joes favour it swung away from them in those closing minutes. With the first O Mahonys attack in what seemed like an age the ball was worked to an onrushing corner back, in unfamiliar territory he lacked the composure to take the crucial score. A near certain point was stopped by a wonderful Sean Mc Quillan block, as he rose from the grass, on the stroke of full time, but this was not the end of the O Mahonys onslaught at the death. In the 32nd minute a Kilcoyne kick for a point was pulled and dropped short on the square, a desperate scramble ensued and the Joes hearts dropped back down from their mouths when the ball finally bounced wide of the goal. And so it ended a tense and tight draw, setting up an enthralling replay for next weekend.

Full Time Score: St Josephs 0-13, Sean O Mahonys 0-13

The Replay will take place next Friday evening 26th September. Again in the Clans field and again with an 8pm throw in.

St Josephs: Robert Sansom, Liam O Leary, Ben Mulligan, David Kieran, Alan Lynch, Sean Mc Quillan, David Mernagh, Peter Mulligan 0-2, Peter Brennan, Craig Doherty, Conall Smyth 0-2, Daire Smyth, Derek Mulligan, Conal O Hanlon 0-3 (2frs), Alan Quigley 0-5 (3frs).

Substitutions: David Reilly for Craig Doherty, Shane Mc Quillan for Alan Lynch, Tomas Smyth 0-1 for Daire Smyth

Sean O Mahonys: Benny Brady, Pat O Brien, Ronan Byrne, Michael Clarke, Niall Mc Laughlin, John O Brien, Alan Watters 0-1, Conor Martin, Shane Brennan, Keith Mc Laughlin, Conor Finnegan 0-3 (all frees), Liam Dullaghan 0-2, Stephen Kilcoyne 0-3 (1fr), Conor Crawley, Stephen Fisher 0-1

Substitutions: David Dowling 0-3 for Conor Crawley

Referee: Brian Brady