Carnaross book spot in decider

Story by Jimmy Geoghegan

Wednesday, 8th September, 2010 4:52pm

Carnaross book spot in decider

John L McGee scored two points for Carnaross as they defeated St Michael's in the IFC semi-final on Saturday.

There was no trophy presented at the end of this IFC semi-final yet that didn't diminish in any way the joy the Carnaross players, mentors and supporters felt when the action was over.

They hugged each other, raised arms aloft in triumph and savoured the moment in the middle of a floodlit Pairc Tailteann after this contest had come to its exciting conclusion.

This was sweet for Alan Stephens and his men. It was a win that washed away the disappointment of previous years when Carnaross teams of the past promised so much early on in their championship run only to lose their way on the big day.

This time Carnaross put in a focused, determined shift and harvested a rich reward. When it mattered most Carnaross were composed and experienced enough to grasp their opportunity and close out what was a tight, uncompromising contest.

The sides were level six times before Carnaross finally found that extra little spurt of momentum to edge ahead midway through the second-half. Once in front and with the smell of victory in their nostrils they were able to draw on their reservoirs of self belief and know-how to close the deal.

They also had the kind of good luck needed to win games like this. That all-too-precious slice of fortune came their way at the end when St Michael's spurned two golden goal opportunities. The wrong options were taken and the chances were gone.

Of course members of the Carnaross contingent can argue, with considerable justification, that you make your own luck and that those goal chances were spurned by razor-sharp defending and dogged determination. It was probably a combination of both.

With 58 minutes played and Carnaross ahead by two points St Michael's launched an attack. Ciaran Lynch played a lovely pass in for Daithi Regan who was one-on-one with the Carnaross goalkeeper, Killian Comaskey. Regan went for power, but the Carnaross goalkeeper held his ground and made a fine save. If the St Michael's player had off-loaded to a colleague nearby it would surely have been a goal.

Just after that Comaskey again made an excellent save from Kevin Cassidy, the ball broke to David Lynch and his effort was blocked almost on the line by a retreating defender. The danger was cleared amid a frantic goalmouth scramble. Carnaross survived.

Before the throw-in there were those who felt that St Michael's had the armoury not only to win this game but with plenty to spare. Yet Carnaross have a toughness about them that was never going to let that happen.

They also have some highly capable players and it was their more seasoned campaigners that provided them with the platform to win this contest.

There was Paddy Nugent who was superb at the back, time and again winning ball he had no right to claim as his own. There was Ollie Murphy, looking as slim and fit as he has for years.

He wore number 14 yet he roamed free all over the pitch picking up ball here and there and setting up colleagues or firing over the bar as he did once from play.

Stephen Flaherty and Dermot McGee also split the posts. John L McGee also tagged on four frees to cap the kind of energetic display that looked beyond him a year or two ago when he was plagued by injuries. Carnaross also had a goal chance when Dermot McGee opted to take a point when a gap opened up.

Murphy also caught one ball after 18 minutes with a brave, characteristic leap and earned a free that produced a huge roar from the Carnaross support. It was a telling moment. He pointed the free and put his side 0-8 to 0-6, putting a two point margin between the sides for the first time in the game.

A superb point from John L McGee (pictured, left) after 53 minutes left it 0-9 to 0-8 with St Michael's facing an increasingly arduous uphill task. Goals were what they wanted and they almost got them.

For most of the game St Michael's liked to pass the ball around. In the closing stages they got it into the forwards quick and early. It put the Carnaross defence under pressure and St Michael's almost made hay.

The sides were level 0-4 each at the break with the St Michael's tally coming from two pointed frees from Ciaran Lynch, one pointed free from Regan and a '45' from Derek Flood which he swept over with aplomb.

It took until the 38th minute before St Michael's managed their first score from play with Peter Clinton, Sean Gaffney, John Barry O'Reilly involved in a swift move that ended with Lynch firing over.

St Michael's had the possession yet they found it almost impossible to make inroads against the Carnaross full-back line manned by the immovable Nugents - Peter, Thomas and Paddy.

Then in the last few minutes St Michael's launched a series of desperate attacks that almost brought them redemption. Chances were created but not taken and Carnaross survived much to the delight of their jubilant supporters.

SCORERS

Carnaross - O Murphy 0-5, four frees; J L McGee 0-2; S Flattery 0-1; D McGee 0-1.

St Michael's - C Lynch 0-5, four frees; D Regan 0-1 free; D Flood 0-1, '45'.

THE TEAMS

Carnaross - K Comaskey; P Nugent, T Nugent, P Nugent; E Comaskey, S Carpenter, C Brogan; D McGee, B Comaskey; S Flaherty, J L McGee, P Mullen; N McDonnell, O Murphy, G Murphy. Subs - C McDonnell for Mullen 44 mins, R Mulvey for G Murphy 56m.

St Michael's - P McCormack; D Reilly, D Flood, P Rogers; S Gaffney, P Clinton, R Briody; J B O'Reilly, B Ryan; D Lynch, D Regan, P O'Reilly; R Cassidy, C Lynch, K Cassidy. Sub - J Farrell for R Cassidy 39mins.

REFEREE - David Coldrick (Blackhall Gaels).

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