After a tough, physical encounter, St Marys ensured that they will be playing league division one football next year after a narrow one point victory over Melvin Gaels at Pairc Naomh Mhuire, Carrick-on-Shannon on Saturday last.
MASONITE LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
ST MARYS 0-9
MELVIN GAELS 0-8
After being at the centre of plenty of controversy during the championship, Jimmy Guckian was the hero for the Carrick side as he came off the bench with six minutes remaining and scored two crucial points.
Last Saturdays victory also has a significant bearing for St Marys other teams as had the division one team been relegated to division two, the division two would have been relegated to division three and so on down the divisions.
Melvin Gaels knew before last Saturdays encounter that they were guaranteed a place in next Saturdays league final, but there was certainly no evidence of complacency as they made St Marys work right till the death for their victory.
Melvin Gaels began the game well with BB Brennan Scóring two points inside the opening ten minutes to open up an early lead.
A good move involving Paul Brennan and Emlyn Mulligan resulted in Paul Og Ferguson Scóring to leave three points between the sides.
Given the fact that there was so much a stake it was hardly surprising that there were some nerves evident.
Two converted frees from Ray Mulvey brought St Marys right back into contention as the game approached the 20 minute mark.
Having seen their lead eroded Melvin Gaels registered two quick points of their own through Conor Sheridan and Paul Og Ferguson.
With six minutes remaining until the half-time break and trailing by three points, St Marys enjoyed a period of sustained pressure and scored two unanswered points through Donal McLoughlin and Niall Comerton to leave just a between the sides at the interval.
The second half began in the same manner as the first had ended with both sides challenging for everything in what was a very keenly contested game. The tackles were going in hard, but there was little over the course of the game that would be described as dirty.
From a football point of view it may not have been the most gripping but for sheer drama it would be tough to match.
With nine minutes to go and still trailing by a point, it seemed as though St Marys had been handed a lifeline to ensure their division one status for next year whenÓgoalkeeper Jesse McGuinness fouled Benny Guckian and in doing so conceded a penalty.
A goal from the ensuing penalty would have helped to ease the nerves of the St Marys faithful but Ray Mulveys effort was struck tamely and rolled wide of McGuinnesss right hand post.
With time running out, Jimmy Guckian came off the bench for St Marys and immediately had the desired impact as he pointed after a fine pass from Dermot Reynolds.
The introduction of GuckianÓgave the team a real lift and with three minutes to go St Marys took the lead after Benny Guckian pounced on a loose ball and knocked it over the bar from close range despite having plenty of defenders around him for company.
The drama was not yet over as Melvin Gaels refused to throw in the towel and levelled the scores from an Emlyn Mulligan free in the last minute of the game.
There was still time for one more twist as Jimmy Guckian was on the end of a knockdown and scored the winning point three minutes into injury time.
St Marys would no doubt rather be looking forward to defending their league crown in next weeks final than celebrating the fact they have avoided relegation. However, they will be mightily relieved that they have done just that.
Anthony Conway, Fergal Reynolds, Conor Guckian, Jonathan Cassidy, James Glancy, Mick Greene, Nicholas McWeeney, James McGrail, Daniel Lowe, Brian ODonnell, Dermot Reynolds, Donal McLoughlin (0-1), Niall Comerton (0-2), Benny Guckian (0-1), Ray Mulvey (0-2). Subs: Brian Farrell (0-1) for Greene, Jimmy Guckian for Farrell (0-2).
Jesse McGuinness, Padraig McGloin, Fabian McMorrow, Joe McGowan, Blaine Mulligan, Anthony Tiffoney, Paul McGurran (0-1), Gareth Phelan, Emlyn Mulligan (0-2), Paul Og Ferguson (0-2), Conor Sheridan (0-1), David McSharry, Colin Regan, BB Brennan (0-2), Paul Brennan. Subs: Stephen McGurran for Ferguson (36 mins), Shane Ryan for McGloin (49 mins), Gareth Foley for B Mulligan (54 mins)
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