A close one for Westmeath
Westmeath 2-9 Cavan 1-10
The first junior playoff game of the year was a close quarterfinal contest that swayed both ways. Westmeath used dominating seven minute periods at the ends of both halves to secure the win.
In the first half it was a 2-2 burst without reply, while in the second they fired the last five points of the game to annex the win. They now play Monaghan in the semifinal while Kildare and Celtics contest the second semi.
Cavan started the game with two points in the first eight minutes from Paul Giles and Joe Shannahy. There were mistakes at both ends, however, with Westmeath having four wides in that period while Kieran Sheridan had timely interceptions in the full back line for Westmeath.
Cavan added to their total with three further scores, with Shannahy again on the board with two while Shane Reilly had the third with a towering score.
It took Westmeath all of 20 minutes before they had their first score, but they had a deluge in the final eight minutes. They had further wides and a goal chance that hit the side netting from Mark Downes, but they finally started to click with Vinnie Gavin a big factor.
Dave Dunican had a free before Gavin added a second also from a free when Dunican was fouled. Dean Barrett added a third from play, and with five minutes on the clock it was 0-5 to 0-3 for Cavan.
When Pierce Loftus started a move for Westmeath out of the half back line with four minutes left it looked harmless enough. The ball was quickly moved forward to Dunican who fired deep to the left of the square to Barrett. He turned and flicked across the square to mark Downes.
The corner forward still had work to do, but he pulled the ball from the air and planted it in the back of the net expertly.
Within a minute the same type of ball was sent into Barrett again. This time he turned and buried the ball in the onion bag himself. A six point turnaround.
Cavan again had the opening two points of the half as Barry Annette and Ian McKiernan went back to back. Both sides had wasted opportunities before Darren Petit had the next Westmeath score when he linked up with Barrett for a running score.
Cavan reacted however, unlike in the first half, with a scoring spree of their own. Sean Sheanan had a lovely point when he got the bounce and turned to slot over before Shannahy added a point with a drive up the middle from 40 yards out.
With 18 minutes gone Cavan got a huge break. Shannahy was again involved. He grabbed the ball deep in his own half and drove long to Sheanan. The corner forward flicked quickly to a storming McKiernan, who drilled the ball to the back of the net.
When Shannahy added a point Cavan had a 1-10 to 2-4 lead with nine minutes on the clock.
Again Westmeath went to the scoreboard as they dominated it akin to the first half. Back to back scores from Colin White and Sean Fagan began the momentum run.
Fagan with a free and Gavin with a free from more than 55 yards out had the side in front with time ticking down.
A number of injuries and yellow cards slowed the momentum down, and Westmeath were able to add a closing score from Pat O’Driscoll to complete the victory.
Westmeath had very good displays from Kieran Sheridan, Anto Kelly and Dave Dunican who was surprisingly taken off. Vinnie Gavin did a lot of work around the middle while Dave Barrett when he went forward had a pivotal role. Sean Fagan also had some very good moments in the full forward line.
Cavan’s Brian Murray, Ian McKiernan -- his goal was a cracker -- and Joe Shannahy who was everywhere battled hard over the hour.
Cavan: 1 Jack Fannon, 2 Michael Smith, 3 Michael Ledwith, 4 Brian Murray, 5 Shane Buggy, 6 Barry Annette (0-1), 7 Ronan Fitzsimons, 8 Ian McKiernan (1-1), 9 Shane Reilly (0-1), 10 Sean McGivney, 11 Joe Shannahy (0-4), 12 Padraig Kyne, 13 Paul Grimes (0-1), 14 Derek Williams (0-1), 15 Sean Sheanon (0-1).
Westmeath: 1 John Gavin, 2 Dave Russell, 3 Kieran Sheridan, 4 Andy Carroll, 5 Pierce Loftus, 6 Anto Kelly, 7 Mike Donnelly, 8 Vinnie Gavin (0-2), 9 Dean Barrett (1-1), 10 Dave Dunican (0-1), 11 Darren Petit (0-1), 12 Jamie Stones, 13 Mark Downes (1-0), 14 Colin Whyte (0-1), 15 Sean Fagan (0-2). Subs: Pat O’Driscoll (0-1).
Referee: Jimmy Naughton .
Easy win for Astoria
Astoria Gaels 2-11 Brooklyn/Long Island 0-9
Astoria returns to the semifinal stage of the intermediate championship after an easy win over Brooklyn/Long Island.
Astoria was able to coast to victory as they scored more than enough to get the victory. B/LI used a blanket defense but it played into the winners’ hands as they had a number of bodies to shut down all attacks coming in the other direction.
Astoria now face Dublin in the semifinals.
Astoria won the first half with a 0-5 to 0-3 advantage heading into the break. It was a half that no one wanted, however, as both sides were guilty of poor passing and devoid of attacking ideas.
Brooklyn was using the blanket defense, and it left Darren Moore ploughing a lonely furrow repeatedly. Two of their three scores came from frees, with Moore getting the third expertly, but he was constantly surrounded by three defenders.
After each of their scores or wides -- they had four -- Pa Ryan was able to hit the short kickout and Astoria had the ball moving.
Shane Sweeney had two points for Astoria, his first a bullet off two defenders after Robbie Moran’s free came back of the upright. Moran also had two points from frees when the blanket defense fouled the attackers.
All being said Astoria were value for their lead, but only just.
Astoria completely dominated the second half as they ran away easy winners. They had two points to open the half, then had a brace of goals in a 90 second span with Eoghan Kyne pumping the ball into Derek McKenna, who set up Sweeney for a cracker with the first.
While Mark Dobbins set up Nester Allen for the second, it left the side 2-7 to 0-3 ahead after seven minutes and the game over as a contest.
Astoria added a further trifecta to their total while Brooklyn had to wait until the 16th minute before they had their first score of the second half. It came from Bonnie Duffy and was followed by two further scores, but it was all cosmetic.
Both sides had scores to close out the contest, with Moore getting his third while Sam Yore was rewarded for his attacking forays with a point on the turn.
Astoria will realize that tougher tasks lie ahead but will be happy to get this out of the way. Sean Kelly and Sam Yore did a lot of good work at the back. Eoghan Kyne was the open man countless times for Pa Ryan’s kickouts and he had a good performance.
Robbie Moran and Shaun Munnelly both had confident passages over the hour while Derek McKenna, Shane Sweeney, who showed throughout, and Nester Allen were the most active of the forwards.
For Brooklyn, Bonnie Duffy, Gary Moore, James Connolly and the excellent Darren Moore were the most prominent.
Astoria Gaels: 1 Pa Ryan, 2 Alan Foley, 3 Eugene O’Hagan, 4 Thomas Christie, 5 Sam Yore (0-1), 6 Sean Kelly (0-1), 7 Eoghan Kyne, 8 Robbie Moran (0-3), 9 Shaun Munnelly, 10 Derek McKenna, 11 Mark Dobbins, 12 Seamus Kelly, 13 Liam Farrell (0-2), 14 Shane Sweeney (1-3), 15 Nester Allen (1-0). Subs: Michael Coyle, John Kieveney (0-1).
Brooklyn/Long Island: 1 Gavin Dwyer, 2 Kevin Rehill, 3 Enda Lally, 4 Donal McKeown, 5 Garth Moore, 6 Bonnie Duffy (0-1), 7 Kevin O’Callaghan, 8 Gary Moore, 9 Richie O’Connor, 10 Stephen O’Kane (0-1), 11 James Connolly (0-4), 12 Declan McAleer, 13 Ryan Kerr, 14 Darren Moore (0-3), 15 Brian McGonigle. Subs: Martin McKeown, Jamie Lally.
Man of the match: Shane Sweeney (Astoria Gaels).
Referee: Tommy Fahey.
Second half surge for Donegal
Donegal 2-11 Rangers 1-9
Donegal used a strong second half performance to defeat Rangers in the second intermediate quarterfinal on Sunday’s card at Gaelic Park.
They had a slim one point lead at the break but were able to outscore their rivals 1-6 to 1-2 in the second half, with the defense clamping down and nullifying the threat of Ronan Caffrey that had hurt them so much in the first 30 minutes.
They now face top seed Kerry in the semifinal in two weeks.
It was a back and forth first half as both sides had periods of dominance. Donegal had three of the first four scores, with Ciaran Tavey punishing two infractions with points from frees.
Rangers did have a goal chance in the early going, but Stephen Williams blasted wide from 18 yards out. Williams had the second Rangers point after 12 minutes, but Donegal extended their advantage when a long ball into the square from Gary White was knocked down by CJ Molloy to the waiting Liam Deane. The young player blasted to the net expertly.
Rangers dominated the next 10 minutes as they outscored their opponents four to one. Derek Courtney had a good point when he joined the attack before Caffrey, first with a free and then from play, sandwiched a Tavey point from play to narrow the gap to two.
When Caffrey had a free over the lathe when Williams was fouled before the break, it left the minimum between the sides.
Donegal opened the game up completely in the first 13 minutes of the second half. They had five points without reply, with Deane having the first after 30 seconds and Gary White firing over the fifth when he took a short 50 from Tavey and swiveled before slotting over.
The biggest blow to Rangers arrived with 13 minutes on the clock. Anton Toner found Molloy with an outlet pass, and the big full forward went on a long solo run. He slotted low to the net from about 20 yards out for a 2-10 to 0-7 lead.
Rangers were able to cancel the goal out immediately when they moved down the field and Williams blasted to the net and the ball came flying out at the back. While it gave a slim lifeline to Rangers, the damage had been done at the other end.
Deane added to the winners’ total with his second point of the game as they coasted to victory. Rangers did have a pair of scores from Coughlin and Caffrey, but it was to little to late.
Donegal will look forward to the challenge of Kerry, but will be a little alarmed that they went the last 14 minutes without a score. Fintan Kweon, Niall McMahon and sub Anton Toner all impressed at the defensive end. Del Ferriara did a lot of running up front, although he did have a shortened game due to accumulation of yellows.
Ciaran Tavey was excellent, dangerous each time he was on the ball. CJ Molloy took his scores well, while Liam Deane had a tremendous hour.
For Rangers, Dean Murphy and Derek Courtney were the best of the defenders, John Power had some moments in the middle, with Stephen Williams and Ronan Caffrey very good up front. If they could have gotten more ball into Caffrey he could possibly have got the side a result, but it was not to be.
Donegal: 1 Brian Cuilinane, 2 Brian Sweeney, 3 Fintan Kweon, 4 Ciaran Slattery, 5 Tommy Moran, 6 Conor Maguire, 7 Mike Molloy, 8 Conor Classen, 9 Aaron Somers, 10 Del Ferreira, 11 Gary White (0-1), 12 Ciaran Tavey (0-5), 13 PJ Flanagan (0-1), 14 CJ Molloy (1-2), 15 Liam Deane (1-2). Subs: Anton Toner, Paid McDaid, Joe Kweon.
Rangers: 1 Mike Sheridan, 2 Malachy McHugh, 3 Dean Murphy, 4 Lorcan Malone, 5 Danny Levine, 6 Derek Courtney (0-1), 7 Pat O’Driscoll, 8 Cillian Caffrey, 9 John Power, 10 Stephen Williams (1-1), 11 Mark Coughlin (0-1), 12 Robbie Jackson, 13 Ronan Caffrey (0-6), 14 Mike McCarthy, 15 Mike Bishop. Subs: Thomas Maher.
Man of the match: Ciaran Tavey (Donegal).
Referee: Sean Jones.
Why all Irish men’s beards are red