Last Sundays U-21 A Championship quarter-final was played in extremely tough conditions and it was hardly surprising that the contest was, to borrow a cliché, a game of two halves.
U-21 A CHAMPIONSHIP QUARTER FINAL
ST FRANCIS 1-8
St Francis had the advantage of the wind in the opening half and opened up a two point lead inside the opening six minutes through the impressive Eunan Tracey and Martin Raferty.
That lead would have beenÓgreater were it not for a fine save from Padraig Dolan in the Drumlea goal who made an instinctive save to turn Rafertys shot over the bar.
Given the fact that the wind was so strong it was vital for St Francis that they built up a commanding lead before half-time.
They almost scored the games opening goal through Enda Maguire who pounced on a poor clearance by goalkeeper Padraig Dolan. Unfortunately for the Drumshanbo/Ballinaglera amalgamation his first time shot crashed off the angle of the woodwork.
Despite that miss St Francis continued to put the Drumlea rearguard under plenty of pressure and scored three unanswered points within the next ten minutes through Eunan Tracey, Enda Maguire and a Eunan Tracey free.
With six minutes of the half remaining, St Francis struck for the games opening goal to open up a commanding eight point lead.
St Francis Seamie McMorrow won possession of the ball from a Drumlea kickout and quickly found Barry Maguire who in turn picked out Philip McGourty.
McGourty had a clear run onÓgoal and he finished confidently leaving goalkeeper Padraig Dolan with no chance.
To their credit Drumlea responded well to that set-back and finished the half strongly.
A Morgan Quinn free two minutes before the interval and a Ciaran Smith point on the stroke of half-time helped reduce the deficit and give the Drumlea faithful renewed belief that their side, with the wind at their backs in the second half, could yet emerge victorious.
Three quick points for Drumlea, two from Morgan Quinn and one from Ray Fee, at the beginning of the second half reduced the deficit to a goal as St Francis led by 1-5 to 0-5.
All of a sudden the momentum was entirely with Drumlea and a Mark Fee point helped reduce the deficit to just two points.
A Damon Maguire free eight minutes into the half meant that there was just a point between the sides and with St Francis struggling to come to terms with the wind that they were now playing into, Drumlea pounced for a goal which gave them the lead.
Goalkeeper Jack Mathynthss took a quick free which was intercepted by Sean Flanagan. Sean quickly picked out his cousin Shane, who was introduced at half-time, and he duly found the back of the net to give Drumlea the lead for the first time.
A Damon Maguire free helped open up a three point lead for the Drumreilly and Aughawillan men and it was beginning to look as though St Francis were heading out of this years U-21 championship.
Chances were few and far between up to that point for St Francis in the second half but they will be left ruing the gilt edged chance that fell to Enda Maguire with 12 minutes of the game remaining.
After good work by Seamie McMorrow and Thomas Cornyn the ball came to Maguire. From close range it seemed as though he was about to score St Francis second goal of the game but great credit must go to Padraig Dolan in the Drumlea goal who produced an excellent save to deny him.
The final ten minutes of the game were a very tense affair with both sides pushing hard to keep their championship dreams alive.
A Barry Maguire point for St Francis, their first of the half was cancelled out by a Morgan Quinn free to keep the gap at three points.
St Francis refused to throw in the towel and two pointed frees from the boot of Eunan Tracey meant that with only a minute remaining there was only a point separating the teams.
Ultimately there was to be no epic comeback for St Francis as Drumleas Ryan Creamer scored in the final minute to ensure victory for his side.
Padraig Dolan, Paddy OConnor, Sean Fee, Brian Mitchell, Warren Maguire, Graham Taylor, Gerard McGovern, John Fee, Mark Fee (0-1), Ciaran Smith (0-1), Ray Fee (0-1), Morgan Quinn (0-4), Ryan Creamer (0-1), Damon Maguire (0-2), Sean Flanagan. Subs: Shane Flanagan(1-0) for Smith (HT), Kevin McTague for OConnor and Declan McGovern for Mitchell (55 mins).
Jack Mathynthss, Cathal Kielty, Alan Wynne, Padraig Cornyn, Thomas Reynolds, Thomas Cornyn, Jason Loftus, Philip McGourty (1-0), Emmet Burke, Eunan Tracey (0-5), Brian Mulvey, Seamie McMorrow, Martin Raferty (0-1), Barry Maguire (0-1), Enda Maguire (0-1). Sub: Fergal Wynne for Reynolds (50 mins).
Referee: Brendan Sammon
This full report is available thanks to Philip Rooney and the Leitrim Observer
– its available in this weeks
27-Nov-08 by Philip Rooney – LeitrimObserver.ie