Pennine League Final Division 2
Although the final scoreline resulted in a comprehensive victory for the Wolfe Tones, the score at half –time was a far cry from how it finished. There were only 5 points in it at the break and the men from Liverpool had to play into a strong gale with intervals of rain for the second-half. To their credit, they dug deep with ball in hand to emerge deserved winners and capture their second cup of the year.
The month of August, when the cups get handed out; just a pity the majority of players from the Wolfe Tones and St.Lawrences were not present to grace the final. The same will probably be the case as the Junior Championship rolls onto the semi-final stage next week, the cramped fixture list and the unavailability of senior players when the senior league shuts down for a month; being the cause why such big games have to be played in the month of August. This month hits a lot of clubs hard as they have to deal with players returning to Ireland and holidays; something maybe for the county board to look into for the following year.
This final was played in Autumn conditions with the Tones choosing to play with the conditions at their back. They began well and kicked 7 points without reply in the opening 12 minutes through the accuracy from frees and play of Errigal Ciarain man Dara McCullough, who would finish with a tally of 7 points; 6 of those coming in the opening half. St.Lawrences then motored into action and hit 1-02 in the space of a 5 minute spell of madness when the Wolfe Tones simply fell asleep. First two points, one a well-taken long-range free from Paul Duffy on the far right; narrowed the gap to 5 points. Then goalkeeper Richie Barry repelled an effort, before a 14 metre free ended up in the back of the Wolfe Tones net even though there were 5 men in green, white and yellow standing on the line. So after a solid 15 minute spell from Wolfe Tones, they now led just by 2 points with 8 minutes remaining of the half. There was frustration in the Wolfe Tones play; they shot from goal from a long way out, they over kicked passes and fumbled simple ball. Late points from McCullough, Nigel Grennan and Caomhain Scanlon for the Tones left the scoreline at the break 0-09 v 1-02. St.Lawrences would be quite happy with this, they did not play well and now had a gale at their back for 30 minutes. Many of those watching the game would concur with such sentiments.
The opening 5 minutes of the half would be the litmus test for both teams of how the game would unfold; the Wolfe Tones passed this with flying colours. In the space of 5 minutes they had rattled off 2-02, with Peter Cosgrove now playing in the corner getting 2-01. They killed the game as a contest within this time and from then on they would not look back. Grennan then would continue his great form of late, as he calmly slid the ball under the advances of the St.Lawrences goalkeeper. These 3 goals all came through the same way as the Wolfe Tones kept the ball in hand and found the free men in space. A temptation of hitting the ball long with the wind negated this smart use of the ball in the opening half and it did not play to the Wolfe Tones strengths. A new hunger also was found as they mopped up a lot of breaking ball and the central influence of James Daly was also a deciding factor in a colossal second half. Further points from Cristy Harkin, Kevin Foley and Daly finished the scoring for the day as St.Lawrences only registered 2 points in the second-half.
Both teams now have their eye on the Junior Championship with St,Lawrences entering the backdoor and the Wolfe Tones already into the semi-final after a convincing win against St.Peters. The Wolfe Tones will still class their season as a failure if they fail to make it 3 pieces of silverware this year; all eyes on the championship so.
Great thanks to all the Wolfe Tones fans who came up to cheer us on including a lot from the ladies team, club chairman and our sponsors from Capital Steel who has shown great support to the club over the last 2 years.
Richie Barry (Cork); Mickey Doherty (Donegal), John Eustace (Wicklow); Peter Cosgrove (Monaghan, 2-01), Paul Carey (Westmeath), Johnny Cleary (Tipperary); Cristy Harkin (Donegal, 0-02, capt) Caomhain Scanlon (Dublin, 0-01); Tony O’Leary (Dublin), Nigel Grennan (Offaly, 1-04), James Daly (Westmeath 0-02); Dara McCullough (Tyrone, 0-07), Adam O’Hare (Antrim)
Subs used: Kevin Foley (Kerry, 0-01), James McCann (Fermanagh), Jason Finnegan (Louth)
Manager: Cathal Harkin (Derry)