Co. Junior ‘A’ Final
Showing a big improvement from earlier rounds, Claregalway Juniors had a resounding win in the Co. Championship final played at Menlough on Saturday October 31st last. They thus regained the title last won in 1993 and hence step up to Intermediate status.
This display was every bit as convincing as the scoreline suggests and seldom has the outcome of a county final been so decisively settled in the opening 20 minutes or so. Our performance featured many passages of sparkling football in the miserably wet conditions. There were no prima donnas and teamwork was very evident especially by Derek Murray’s passing to team mates for several good scores which left the Kilconly defence struggling from early on.
From the throw-in, all 15 players were fully focussed on the demands of the occasion and we raced into a 1–7 to 0–1 lead inside 25 minutes. Our goal came from a great centre from Derek Murray to Enda O’Connell who crashed to the net from the edge of the square. Our seventh point by Anthony Monaghan from 50 yards would do credit to Sean O’Domhnaill. Our backs were totally in command with Shane and Padraig Walsh, Mickey Grealish and Rory Kenny prominent. It was 25 minutes before Kilconly opened their scoring with a point and just before half-time they scored their first goal with a fine fisted effort to leave the score at 1–7 to 1–1 at the break.
Two quick points after the restart from frees by Anthony Monaghan meant that Claregalway already had their hands on the cup. Although Kilconly responded with 1–2 and briefly threatened to make a game of it, two fine interceptions by Kenny Watson and Mickey Grealish restored our dominance. Our second goal came from another Derek Murray run and centre to Anthony Monaghan whose pass across the square was fisted to the net by Enda O’Connell. Kilconly were then awarded a penalty but were denied by Nigel Donovan’s excellent save. Padraig O’Connell worked hard at mid-field while both Niall McGovern and Adrian Moran picked off some lovely points.
There was a cut to this display that offers fresh prospects. We should surely arrange more football excursions to other football counties. The All-Ireland Gaeltacht week-end in Donegal and the high quality football there was a turning point for the team panel. The under-age policy fostered by the club has proved rewarding. It is only 5 short years since six of the team competed at the top level in Féile Peil na nÓg Ciarraí. U17 player and county minor panellist Enda O’Connell lived up to the saying If they are good enough they are old enough by grabbing 2 goals. What next? Training and team development hold the key because success at Intermediate level demands a higher gear all-round.
The Championship cup was presented to team captain Anthony Monaghan by John Power, Galway Football Board Secretary. It is the Irish Purity Cup presented by Odlums Flour Millers, Portarlington for the Co. Junior championship won by Menlough in 1936. Getting out of Junior grade was set up as a target early in the year (Nuacht Chláir March 1998). It has been duly delivered and we convey tributes to the team management, Paul Concannon, Val Hanly and Frank Moran and all concerned including main sponsor C K Developments.
Team: Nigel Donovan, Kenny Watson, Shane Walsh, Gerry Madden, Mickey Grealish, Padraig Walsh, Rory Kenny, Anthony Monaghan (0–7, 6 frees), Padraig O’Connell, Adrian Moran (0–2), Richard Donovan (0–1), Niall McGovern (0–2), Enda O’Connell (2–0), Enda Devitt, Derek Murray (0–1). Subs: Paul Concannon for E.Devitt, Kevin McNamara for R.Donovan.
Sean Ó Flannagain