By Eamonn Kelly
Two thousand Gaelic sports fans came to Chicago Gaelic Park last Sunday to witness three divisional finals and a semifinal replay. They were not disappointed as surprise results were the order of the day.
For the first time in recent years not one team retained their divisional title. Perhaps, the biggest surprise was the defeat of the North American County Board senior hurling champions, Harry Bolands, at the hands of Erin’s Own. In senior football, Parnells were on their way to creating a major upset after rallying in the third quarter to draw level with Wolfe Tones only to be overpowered by their more experienced opponents in the final eight minutes. Here the full wrapup:
Senior Hurling Final
Erin’s Own 5-18, Harry Bolands 5-12
Harry Bolands reign as divisional and North American Board champions came to an end at Chicago Gaelic Park last Sunday as a greatly improved Erin’s Own team outclassed them. Not just one moment of brilliance, but several of them from dynamic, sure-footed and totally accurate Tipperaryman Liam McGrath paved the way for an unexpected but worthy win over the champions. Having accounted for 4-2 of his team’s total, McGrath earned the Player of the Match award. Not far behind him was the performance of Michael Beavens, who in addition to scoring three points, assisted in three of his team’s goals.
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It was a tame but evenly contested and entertaining first half as both teams attempted to get the measure of each other. In that period the teams were tied on no fewer than eight occasions and were level at halftime at 1-8. The first goal came from McGrath in the 19th minute, with veteran Kevin Horan responding for the Bolands in the 21st minute to put just one point between the teams. On the turnover both teams kicked into top gear and the big attendance.treated to a marvelous 30 minutes of hurling. Michael White broke the deadlock right on the turnover with a great point, but McGrath struck in the third minute with his second goal to put two points between the teams. The teams exchanged points in a period of great hurling right up to the end of the third quarter.
At the beginning of the final quarter Erins Own began to gain control as a result of solid displays from left half back Leigh O’Brien and centerfielders Andy Moloney and Colm Cassidy. They went into an eight-point lead when Maloney blasted to the net in the 51st minute. At this stage Erin’s Own were hurling with great confidence knowing that they could beat the champions. They advanced their lead to 11 points with additional scores from Maloney, McGrath and Cassidy.
The Bolands rallied in the final moments and were rewarded with a pair of goals by Brian Greene but the final whistle sounded and joyful scenes followed as Erin’s Own players and supporters began to celebrate winning their second divisional title.
Senior Football Final
Wolfe Tones 1-19, Parnells 1-12
1997 Chicago and North American Board champions Wolfe Tones regained the divisional title and will be strong contenders again for the national title following their seven-point victory over a gallant Parnells team. This was a wonderful game of football which kept the huge attendance on their toes throughout the 60 minutes. Despite entering the fray as heavy underdogs, this Parnells team rose to the occasion to give one of the best performances in the club’s history. Such was their contribution to this great contest that the result was in doubt right up to the middle of the final quarter. No more than four points separated the teams through most of the match and they were tied, 0-13 to 1-10 at the end of the third quarter.
While trailing early in the game by a couple of points, Parnells got a great boost when Jason Reilly blasted to the net in the sixth minute and Paddy Reilly added a point to give them a two-point lead. However, Wolfe Tones outscored Parnells by 0-7 to 0-0 in the next 18 minutes with points coming from Rory Mone, Kevin O’Brien, Pat Winters and Ronan Fitzsimmons. Parnells rebounded just before the interval and cut the deficit to four points with two fine scores from their best forward, Davy Shields. On the turnover, Shields scored again and with points from Kieran Doyle and Paddy Reilly the game was tied. The more experienced Wolfe Tones finally killed off the Parnells’ challenge in the 51st minute when right half forward, Damien Behan broke through the Parnells defense to score his team’s lone goal and Fitzsimmons followed with a minor score giving them a four-point lead. They were in control for the remainder of the game, adding three additional points to go out deserving winners. Highlight of the game was the great contest at centerfield between the Wolfe Tones’ Pat Winters and Ronan Fitzsimmons and Parnells’ Pearse McKenna and Sean Kelly.
Junior Football Semifinal
Padraig Pearse 2-11, John McBrides 1-10
In a most exciting junior football game, Padraig Pearse put in a great fourth quarter rally to break a deadlock and go on to defeat John McBrides to gain a place in next Sunday’s final against St. Brendan’s. The opening 20 minutes was an evenly contested affair with no more than two points between the teams. With 10 minutes remaining in the half, McBrides took control, outscoring their opponents 1-2 to 0-0, their goal coming from Brian Donnelly in the 23rd minute followed by points from Ger Geraghty and John Marimer. Padraig Pearse rebounded just before the halftime whistle when John Mortimer blasted to the net to put four points between the sides at the interval.
Mortimer went on a scoring spree shortly after the turnover, sending over three consecutive points and an additional point from Marcus Morris tied the game. McBrides regained the lead with minor scores from Mariner and Colm Stanton. Then came the late Padraig Pearse rally which resulted in a goal at the 23rd minute scored by substitute, Kevin McMahon. In the dying moments, McMahon and John Leydon added points which ensured a deserved victory for the Pearse.
Women’s Football Final
St. Brigid’s 2-10, Erin’s Rovers 0-8
After several years of success in Chicago and the capture of the National title in senior football last year, Erin’s Rovers long run as divisional champions came to a halt at Gaelic Park last Sunday as they were soundly defeated by a well-balanced St. Brigid’s team. Despite the eight-point margin between the teams in the end, this was an excellent encounter with the result in doubt right up to the middle of the last quarter.
From the beginning, St. Brigid’s, illustrating commitment and hunger for success, shot into a 1-2 to 0-0 lead within 12 minutes, the goal coming from Catherina Grace and Amie Bennett and Collette Rowan notching the two points. With the fast pace that the Brigids had set it appeared the game was going to be a one-sided affair. As true champions, Erin’s Rovers fought back, gaining three consecutive points from Mary McLoughlin, Deirdre Haron and Fiona Ryan.
With her team trailing by four points at halftime, McLoughlin pointed in the first play after the interval and within five minutes the gap was narrowed to two points when substitute, Catherina Costello, pointed. St. Brigids regained control in the middle of the fourth quarter and the fatal blow to the Rovers came in the 22nd minute when Bennett fisted to the net. The same player added a point four minutes later which set the way for St. Brigids first ever divisional title. Wild scenes of jubilation greeted the sound of the final whistle.
Senior Hurling Final
Naomh Padraig 2-16, Na Fianna 1-17
Intermediate Football Semifinal
Sean McDermotts 1-17, Shannon Rangers 1-12
Young Irelanders 1-13, Sons of Boru 0-5
Junior Hurling Final
St. Josephs 1-2, Naomh Padraig 2-12