By Eamonn Kelly
St. Brendan’s 2-8, Wolfe Tones 1-8
The first phase in the St. Brendan’s-Wolfe Tones saga was played out last Sunday at Gaelic Park when Wolfe Tones threw down the gauntlet to their great rivals in the first round of the North American league and found that their inability to score in the final quarter let to their downfall.
To their credit, they did take advantage of having an extra man when St. Brendan’s full full-forward, John McDonald, got his marching orders in the 43rd minute. Trailing at that stage by six points, they generated a rally that resulted in three consecutive minor scores, but efforts to score the all-important goal failed them.
As is the case whenever these two Southside teams meet, this latest encounter was a close, tense and physical affair. Wolfe Tones, the current North American Board champions, are only a shadow of last year’s team. While St. Brendan’s were the victors last Sunday, they did not reach their potential given the number of intercounty level players on the squad. Kildare star Nial Buckley, contributed little to his team’s victory, having been well policed by Bernard Keane throughout the hour.
St. Brendan’s dominated the first quarter and led by 0-5 to 0-0 until Roy Omne registered the Tones’ first point in the 17th minute. That score appeared to spark life into the champions and within five minutes they were on level terms following a point from Mick Cunnigham and a great goal by Mone. Christopher Donnelly then shot to the net and Paul Hehir pointed to regain a four-point lead at the end of the half.
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Wolfe Tones were far more aggressive on the turnover than they were in the opening quarter and reduced the deficit to two points after 10 minutes following points from Mone and Keaney. However, St. Brendan’s regained the momentum when Donnelly notched his second goal and they added two additional points go into a comfortable seven-point lead. The tide seemed to change again following the dismissal of McDonald. With the extra man, Wolfe Tones went on the attack scoring four consecutive points. With only a goal between the teams the final five minutes of the game was full of drama and excitement. Wolfe Tones bombarded the St. Brendan’s goal and succeeded getting the ball in the net in 28th minute but the "square" goal was disallowed.
Cuchulainn 0-15, Harry Bolands 1-11
Cuchulainn’s hurlers had to pull out all the stops in the final moments before ensuring victory over the North American champions, Harry Bolands. In a game in which they never relinquished the lead they enjoyed from the seventh minute, Cuchulainn were almost caught napping when they allowed the Bolands in for the only goal of the contest near the end of regulation time. After sitting on a four-point lead and in control waiting to hear the final whistle, they were forced to the brim to prevent the Bolands from tying the game in stoppage time. Feature of the game was the magnificent displays of both goalkeepers, Peter Cummins (Cuchulain) and Jonsie Murphy (Bolands). Several of their saves from point-blank range were sensational.
Harry Bolands started in fine form and shot into a two point lead. However, Cuchulainn settled down and soon took control with three consecutive points from the best forward on view, Kilkennyman Aidian Hudson. Cuchulainn enjoyed a 0-10 to 0-5 lead at the interval.
In the second half, Cuchulainn stayed on top enjoying a three to five point lead through most of the period until the they let down their guard in the dying moments for the Boland’s goal scored by brilliant right halfback Dave Martin.
Parnell 2-8, John McBrides 0-8
A goal by Pat Harold in the second minute of this junior football game set the stage for a well-deserved victory by Parnells. McBrides enjoyed one short spell at the end of the first quarter when they came within two points of their opponents following minor scores from Gerry Moran and Paul Hickey. However, the deficit increased when Neil Smith goaled for Parnells in the 20th minute. Both teams exchange points for the remainder of the half with Parnells leading at the interval, 2-3 to 0-4. Parnells, with the aid of the wind, increased their lead early in the second half with points coming from Harold and Dennis Twomey.
St. Brendan’s 1-13, Wolfe Tones 0-5
Early arrivals at Gaelic Park last Sunday got little to cheer about in the opening junior football game between St. Brendan’s and Wolfe Tones. After leading by only three points at the interval St. Brendan’s ended up easy winner after out scoring the Tones 1-8 to 0-3 in the second half.