While Cnoc Mhuire, Granard had high hopes of winning the Leinster Vocational Schools Senior ‘A’ Football Championship title this season, it all went wrong for them in the semi-final showdown against Gallen Community School with the Ferbane outfit eventually emerging victorious after extra-time at the St. Loman’s GAA grounds, Mullingar on Tuesday of last week.
Gallan Community School, Ferbane . . . 2 - 8
Cnoc Mhuire, Granard . . . . . . . . 2 - 4
Although Cnoc Mhuire (without the injured Michael Cullen) dominated the first half with the advantage of the wind, they failed to convert this superiority into vital scores as several chances were squandered and the main culprit in this respect was the normally deadly accurate Longford minor Robbie Smyth who only managed to register a solitary point and that came from a free in the first minute of the game.
The Granard school were guilty of kicking a total of eight wides in the first half while a couple of Smyth frees dropped short but the most crucial miss was the clear-cut goal chance that fell to Aidan McElligott whose point-blank shot was well saved by the opposing keeper Darren Dignan in the 10th minute.
Cnoc Mhuire were leading 1-1 to 0-0 at that stage after Enda Reilly fired the ball into the back of the net in the the 7th minute and another goal so early in the game would really have rattled Gallen CS. As it turned out, the North Longford side failed to register another score until the third minute of first half stoppage time when Cillian Lynn shot over the bar to leave the sides all square at the break, 1-2 to 0-5.
Gallen CS got their opening score in the 11th minute when Joe Maher landed a well struck effort and a further four points followed in the first half – a brace from their best forward Maher who ended up with 1-5 to his credit while wing back Shane Costello and Eoghan Lowry (free) were also on target.
Looking in trouble going into the second half against the wind, Cnoc Mhuire got a badly needed boost of a second goal from Enda Reilly with just three minutes gone on the changeover and this was the end result of an excellent move that also involved substitute Nigel Rabbitte, Robbie Smyth, James McGivney and Aidan McElligott.
But the poor finishing continued as Cnoc Mhuire failed to consolidate a tight grip on the game and their only other score during the remainder of the second half was a terrific point from impressive corner-forward Enda Reilly who clocked up 2-2 in total.
Particularly outstanding in keeping Cnoc Mhuire in contention throughout the second half was Longford minor James McGivney, who was switched from centre-half-back to centrefield, but it must be said that Gallen CS wasted a lot of chances and all they could manage was a point from a Joe Maher free before they finally found a way through the resolute opposing defence to grab the equalising goal in the 51st minute.
Leon Fox planted the ball in the back of the net and soon after the same player was through again but was denied another goal by the Cnoc Mhuire keeper Chris Dalton who pulled off a marvellous point-blank save.
That was the way it remained until the final whistle and with the fiercely fought semi-final ending in a draw (2-3 to 1-6), extra-time was required to determine the outcome and a place in the Leinster Final against Colaiste Bhride, Carnew (Wicklow).
Gallen CS proved to be the stronger side in the additional period and after Eoghan Leavy missed an open goal the Ferbane school managed to find the back of the net with Joe Maher hitting the target from close range.
Two points quickly followed from Maher (free) and Ryan Delaney to leave Gallen CS in a comfortable lead and there was really no way back for a shattered Cnoc Mhuire side even though Enda Reilly closed the gap when converting a free.
When James McGivney had a goal disallowed for a square ball infringement, that was the final blow for the 2010 beaten Leinster finalists (losing out to Ballymahon Secondary, also after extra-time) and the Cnoc Mhuire tale of woe was complete when Wayne O’Hara and J McGivney were sent-off in the second half of extra-time as they ended the game with 13 players on the pitch.
CNOC MHUIRE: Chris Dalton (Mullahoran); Declan Murphy (Granard/Ballymore), Shane McKeon (Northern Gaels), Shane Sheridan (Mostrim); Padraic Kelly (Ballymachugh), James McGivney (Northern Gaels), Diarmuid O’Reilly (Ballymachugh); Anthony Baxter (Ballymachugh), David McGivney (Northern Gaels); Liam Sullivan (Granard/Ballymore), Wayne O’Hara (Granard/Ballymore), Cillian Lynn (Mostrim, 0-1); Enda Reilly (Mullahoran, 2-2, one point from free), Robbie Smyth (Northern Gaels, 0-1, free), Aidan McElligott (Northern Gaels).
Subs:- Nigel Rabbitte (Northern Gaels) for D. O’Reilly (injured, half-time); D O’Reilly for D Murphy (52 mins); Aidan McFarland (Ballymachugh) for A McElligott (55 mins).
D Murphy and A. McElligott were brought back on during the course of the extra-time period.
GALLEN CS: Darren Dignan; Darren Kelly, Conor Lowry, James Nally; Stephen Wren, Darragh Corbett, Shane Costello (0-1); Leon Fox (1-0), Ciaran Cahill; Joe Maher (1-5, three points from frees), Aaron McDonagh, Blaine Rigney; Ryan Delaney (0-1), Brian Grehan, Eoghan Lowry (0-1, free).
Sub:- Darragh Keenaghan for B Rigney (46 mins).
Referee: Michael McAdden (Westmeath).