NAOMH MUIRE 1-13 ST NAUL’S 1-07
BY CHRIS MCNULTY AT O’DONNELL PARK
NAOMH Muire are back on the top rung again.
Danny O’Donnell’s team saved the best wine to last as a superb display saw them comfortably dispatch St Naul’s to claim their first Intermediate Championship crown since 1998.
The men from the Banks returned to senior football in some style as Shaun ‘Yank’ Boyle’s early goal set them on their way to a famous and emotional win that finally allows the Lower Rosses to break into a smile. It has been a trying few weeks for the club, who buried member and active player Conor Boyle just two weeks ago, after his tragic death in a road traffic accident in England.
The Loughanure teenager was buried on the day this final had originally been pencilled in for.
Inspired almost to honour his memory with a victory, this was a win to savour for Naomh Muire, as a well-drilled and disciplined performance could not be matched by St Naul’s who were rocked by the enforced substitution due to injury of Stephen Griffin midway through the first half.
This was Naomh Muire’s day and they began it has they meant to go on with Boyle cracking home a brilliant goal after four minutes that laid the foundations for a memorable triumph.
Boyle was excellent throughout, a real menance in an attack that also prominently featured the names Harry Harden, Hugh ‘Yank’ Boyle and Darragh White.
They had six points to spare, but only for a goal in the final minute by James Flynn, Danny O’Donnell’s charges would and should have had a much greater margin of victory with captain Paul ‘Yank’ Boyle having had a penalty saved by Lee McBrearty in the 19th minute.
The Lower Rosses men flew from the traps. Hugh ‘Yank’ Boyle got the off on their way when he struck after only 25 seconds with Owenie McGarvey, a veteran of Naomh Muire’s Intermediate successes of 1994 and 1998, had foraged well from the throw-in. McGarvey has now played in all three of Naomh Muire’s Intermediate wins and it was another effective game from the 35-year old, while centre half-back Aidy O’Gara, Jack O’Brien and Thomas Duffy were key in a hard-working defence that suffocated St Naul’s any time they threatened to make inroads.
Harry Harden tapped over a free before the golden moment arrived in the fourth minute. Shaun ‘Yank’ Boyle took receipt of a ball out on the left-hand side. There had looked to be little danger when he got hold of possession, but the nifty corner forward managed to show a clean pair of heels to Edward Kane and, with Lee McBrearty advancing, Boyle brilliantly converted crisply beneath the St Naul’s net-minder.
If it had been a dream start for Naomh Muire, then the afternoon was fast becomming a nightmare for their opponents. While Griffin tapped over a free for their first score on 12 minutes, the former Donegal panelist and the St Naul’s captain was forced to leave the action in the 17th minute.
Griffin landed very awkwardly having taken a hit as he took an early shot at the target and his withdrawal, with a suspected broken ankle, severely blunted the edge of their knife. Griffin hobbled away at the end on crutches. The moment he left the action was the one where St Naul’s lost one of the most accurate forward’s in the county,
Stuart Johnston steered over St Naul’s second of the day, but with Aidy O’Gara and catain Paul ‘Yank’ Boyle restored the five point cushion for Naomh Muire.
The game could have been over as a contest, but for the intervention of ‘keeper McBrearty. With Griffin having departed, St Naul’s were rocked with the concession of a penalty 90 seconds later. McBrearty beat away Boyle’s shot, but when a foot block stoppped the follow-up, Shaun McLaughlin raced in, arms outstretched and awarded the penalty.
Paul ‘Yank’ Boyle took the kick, but his effort, low to the goalkeeper’s right, lacked power and McBrearty got down to make the save.
Two pointed frees by Shaun ‘Yank’ Boyle helped Naomh Muire into a four-point interval lead with St Naul’s showing some signs of making a game of it, as Paul McGroarty, Barry Griffin and Mark Ward (free) got on the board.
There was little that could have prepared them for the strong second half that followed from Naomh Muire.
Inside the third quarter, Naomh Muire tacked on points at will, scoring six times inside the opening 13 minutes of part two. Shaun ‘Yank’ Boyle and Darragh White pushed the margin out to six, with Harden adding a free.
When Naomh Muire burst in to score three points in as many minutes there was a real danger that they would run away with it as Harden, delightfully sailed over a free from the right channel before a quick-fire brace by Hugh ‘Yank’ Boyle made it a ten-point game.
Player-manager Brian McCabe got St Naul’s first score of the second half in the 45th minutes after a neat move involving Johnston and Barry Rose, before they managed to avert further danger as Naomh Muire were caught guilty of over-playing it as O’Gara, Hugh ‘Yank’ and Owen Grant were involved in a move that was cut out by McBrearty when an off-load to the well-placed Harden could have reaped serious rewards.
Ten minutes from the end, Hugh ‘Yank’ took a chip over the top but, rather than go for the three-pointer, took the safe option and it was a ten-point game again.
By now, Cathal McLaughlin’s destination was clear, but to be fair St Naul’s didn’t give up the fight. Veteran Andrew Gallagher pointed a free, but there was hardly a whimper even when the substitiute James Flynn managed to net a late, late goal. With St Naul’s desperate to bring some semblence of respectability back upon the board, Flynn slid home under Brian Grant for a goal that will have been scant consolation as St Naul’s head off to reflect on a day that now means they’ve lost seven times in eight finals.
St Naul’s: Lee McBrearty; Conor McBrearty, Edward Kane, Cathal Lowther; Mark Ward, Stuart Johnston (0-1), John Rose; Fiachra McGinley, Barry Griffin (0-1); Daniel Friel, Andrew Gallagher (0-1, 1f), Shane Conneely; Aidan Kennedy, Stephen Griffin (0-1, 1f), Brian McCabe (0-1). Subs: Paul McGroarty (0-1) for S.Griffin (17 mins), Paul Coyle for Kane (34 mins), Barry Rose for Ward (44 mins), Liam McGroarty for McCabe (49 mins), James Flynn (1-0) for Gallagher (55 mins).
Naomh Muire: Brian Grant; Robert O’Donnell, Brian Gillespie, Tómas Duffy; Shaun ‘Point’ Gallagher, Aidy O’Gara (0-1), Jack O’Brien; Paul ‘Yank’ Boyle (0-1), Owenie McGarvey; Darragh White (0-1), Paddy McCafferty, Owen Grant; Shaun ‘Yank’ Boyle (1-3, 2f), Hugh ‘Yank’ Boyle (0-4), Harry Harden (0-3, 3f). Subs: Patrick Gillespie for Gallagher (half-time), Ciaran McGinley for O.Grant (50 mins), John Pidgeon for White (56 mins), Sean J Boyle for H.Boyle (57 mins), Tom McHugh for O’Donnell (57 mins).
Referee: Shaun McLaughlin (Malin).