Claregalway U15 and U13 footballers brought down the curtain on the football season by contesting bothof the City League ‘A’ finals after qualifying through a series of Group games and play-offs. In September, the U16 team reached the final of the County League and lost to Corofin in a close game. In the course of these leagues, the Claregalway teams performed with distinction at the top level.
U15s deservedly beat St.Michaels in the semi final at Mervue. St.Michaels hammered in 2 early goals but a goal by Robert Lennon before half-time brought us back into the game. In the second half 3 subs were introduced and all scored, a point each by Declan Langan and Michael Flaherty and a late goal by Demien Stephens which sealed the result.
The final at The Prairie, Salthill was closely contested with the result in doubt to the end.
When we had a goal chance that eluded us Oranmore scored 3 early points while we missed some chances which made the difference in the end. Although Oranmore/Maree never conceded the lead, they were pressed all the way to the final whistle by a determined Claregalway team. Nicholas Fox opened our account with a point after 15 minutes. Declan Langan added another to leave a point between the sides until just before the beak when Oranmore/Maree scored to leave the half time tally 0–4 to 0–2. Both sides exchanged points soon after the resumption, our point coming from Declan Langan. The score stood at 0–5 to 0–3 for most of the second half as play swung from end to end. There were some thrilling passages of play including a great save by Paul Kilgannon.
The displays of Damien Noonan, Fergal Moore and Gary Dillon deserve special mention and they were well supported by J.P.O’Connell, Anthony Davoren and Paul Hession. Nicholas Fox and Robert Lennon tried hard at mid-field while in the forwards Enda O’Connell and Damien Stephens were tireless in their efforts.
Team: P.Kilgannon, A.Davoren, D.Noonan, G.Dillon, P.Hession, F.Moore, J.P.O’Connell, R.Lennon, N.Fox, A.Watson, E.O’Connell, P.Francis, D.Langan, M.Flaherty, D.Stephens. Subs who played: E.Flaherty, M.Kelly, R.Raftery.
Having previously lost narrowly to St.Michaels, U13s had to overcome Salthill in a play-off at the Prairie in order to remain in the League competition. In a rousing game of fast and open football Claregalway took the game to Salthill right from the throw-in and held the lead throughout.
In the semi-final at the Leisure Centre Claregalway won comfortably; the scorers were S.Cunniffe 1–0, B.McGrath 0–3, A.Watson 0–3, B.Cullinane 0–2, M.Kelly 0–1, C.Deeny 0–1.
The final against St.Michaels was also played at the Prairie. After an action packed second half that had both sets of fans on their toes we held out to win by 2–2 to 2–1. It was a hard tackling game and the closeness of the exchanges militated against open football. The result was always in doubt and the spirit and intensity of both team displays had to be admired. In a number of previous games at both Coiste Peil and Primary schools levels between these keen rivals there has never been more than a score or two between the sides and so the trend was repeated again. We got a tonic start with a goal by Barry Cullinane in the first minute. But St.Michaels showed that this was going to be another close game by scoring 1–1 to take the lead until Anthony Watson equalised after 15 minutes with an excellent point from a free far out on the left. From there on both sets of backs dominated and scoring chances were few and far between. The score remained 1–1 each at the break.
After the resumption the likely result always rested with whichever side got the next score. So it proved to be, as after 10 minutes Jason Murphy won a ball on the right and rattled the net with a great shot. This was soon followed by another excellent free by A.Watson which found Barry Mc Grath who shot left footed over the bar. But St.Michaels summoned up a great revival and bombarded our goal for the remaining 20 minutes in search of victory. Goalie Kieran Moran was called upon to make a number of fine saves. He stopped a penalty but St.Michaels were alert to the rebound and the ball rolled over the goal-line from a toe-poke. A.Watson stopped a shot on the line and the full backs Michael O’Connor, Gary Dillon and Joseph Garrett rose to the occasion to deny St.Michaels again and again. Outfield Colin James Conneely, Tomas Moran, Colin Deeny, Michael Maguire and Martin Kelly contributed handsomely to this win.
After the game the cup was presented by the President of the Galway City League, Martin Kelly, to team captain Gary Dillon and thus we regained the trophy which we last won in this age group in 1993. We thank P.Coen for his time and attention in managing the team.
We convey thanks and appreciation to Malachy Flaherty, Western Ironcraft Ltd. for his generous support.