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Cloone Shock Marys to take B Shield

02/Jul/2008

An injury time Damien O Donnell goal saw Cloone claim a deserved victory in the Shield B Final last Sunday in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada, although nine minutes into the game, that seemed highly unlikely. St. Marys season to date has been some way off the highs of last year although it was still imagined that they would have been too strong for Cloone when the sides met on Sunday last. Prior to the game, four dedicated Leitrim GAA men, George O Toole, Jack McNally, Tommy Tiernan and Tommy O Riordan were remebered with a minutes silence while flags were flown at half mast.

The manner in which St Marys began the game seemed to indicate that Cloone would be in for a difficult afternoon as the opening eight minutes of the game were spent almost entirely in the Cloone half. However, those opening minutes proved to be the highlight for St Marys as they began to make basic errors all over the field, lose their composure and lapse into the form that has seen them make such a disappointing start to this years league. With Jimmy Guckian back from injury and taking his place in midfield, Marys began brightly scoring two points in the opening two minutes. With less than a minute played, Guckian was fouled and Niall Comerton scored the ensuing free. Guckian made a huge impression in the opening stages and his importance to St. Marys was further illustrated when he scored the second point of the game.

Cloone found the going tough in the opening exchanges and while Declan Brennan did score a fine point to half the deficit, it was beginning to look ominous for the division two side. Comerton scored an easy free before his third point of the game after some fine passing involving Jimmy Guckian, Ian McGreevey and Ray Mulvey. With a lead of three points and playing much better than their opponents, Marys carved their way through the Cloone defence after seven minutes but were denied a certain goal when Mulveys well hit strike came back off the crossbar. That goal could have gone a long way towards seeing St. Marys on their way to victory, and although Liam McTiernan scored a point from a 45 to open up four point lead, Cloone soon after began to fight their way back into the game.

While Cloone deserve great credit for the manner in which they fought back, it must be said that St Marys form for the remainder of the game was well below what they produced in the opening exchanges. Where they had seemed dominant in every position, they were now beginning to look sloppy as Cloone fought back with purpose. Two pointed frees from Damian O Donnell, who was beginning to prove himself to be a real handful as he won both frees, narrowed the deficit to two points. While Marys were beginning to fade from the game, they were still capable of producing a moment of class as was illustrated when they went the length of the pitch with some very good passes and excellent movement to score a fine point. Vinny McDermott began the move taking the ball out of defence before passing to Jimmy Guckian. He found Comerton who in turn picked out Clement Cunniffe who fisted the ball over the bar to restore St Marys three point lead 11 minutes before the break. In the final ten minutes of the half, Cloone continued to force their way into the contest and an excellent point from Alan Canning gave further indication that the game, which seemed as good as won in the opening ten minutes, now had a long way to run. The last minute of the half saw a Comerton free cancelled out by another fine point from ODonnell.

At the interval there were several questions being asked around Pairc Sean. Would St Marys be able to rediscover the form they showed in the opening minutes? And how big a factor would the wind be? In the first half Cloone had the advantage of the strong wind, but trailing at the break by (0-7 to 0-5) it would have been fair to say that St. Marys would still have been expected by most to emerge victorious. Despite playing into the wind, it was Cloone who made the better start to the second half and their early pressure was rewarded when O'Donnells free reduced the deficit to a solitary point. Marys second half performance was a shadow of what they had produced in the early stages of the game but, nevertheless, Cloone were left thanking goalkeeper Dermot McCrann when he made two fine saves in the space of a minute.

The second half was more a war of attrition than a classic and that seemed to suit Cloone who were up for the battle. O'Donnell & Comerton exchanged points, with Comertons effort proving to be the Carrick clubs only score of the half. Marys were guilty of kicking bad wides while at the other end O'Donnell burst through the Marys defence to score a fine point to give Cloone the lead for the first time in the game and this would be a lead that they would not relinquish. The final 15 minutes of the game saw St Marys run out of ideas while Cloone with Alan Canning and Gavin Reynolds coming to the fore in midfield threatened to add to their lead. The closing stages of the game saw both sides push for the score that would result in either victory for Cloone or a St. Marys score that would have forced extra-time.

The final score of the game came with virtually the last piece of action as Damian ODonnell reacted quickest to a Mark Beirne 45 to fist the ball to the St Marys net to ensure victory for Cloone. As was pointed out at the presentation of the Shield, it may not be the most prestigious of competitions within the county, but it is nevertheless a fine achievement for Cloone and will do their preparations for the intermediate championship no harm at all.

Cloone. Dermot McCrann, Seamus McCaffrey, Aidan Mulvey, Declan Tiernan, Declan Brennan (0-1), Mark Beirne, Seamus McGuire, Alan Canning (0-1), Gavin Reynolds, Mark Creegan, Damian O Donnell (1-6), Derek O Donnell, Ronan Mulvey, Brian Mulvey (0-1), Padraig Conboy. Subs: Niall Brennan for Conboy (22 mins), Kevin Fitzpatrick for R Mulvey (HT)

St Mary's Anthony Conway, Jonathan Cassidy, Michael Greene, Vinnie McDermott, David Crowe, Conor Guckian, Jimmy Guckian (0-1), James McGrail, Austin Marron, Clement Cunniffe (0-1), Ray Mulvey, Liam McTiernan (0-1), Niall Comerton (0-5), Ian McGreevey. Subs: David Kennedy, David McTiernan and Brendan Guckian for Greene, Marren and Crowe (47 mins)

Referee: Jimmy Stenson. (Eslin)