Four Ps Back in Title Hunt

Four Provinces 5-12 Donegal 1-14    

Four Provinces are back in the New York senior football championship hunt after a 10-point win over Donegal last Saturday evening.

This is their first win of the season, but there is plenty of time left to make a run at one of the final playoff slots in the next month.

This win was built on a very productive forward line where five of the six starters scored. The other player was being used as a third midfielder which gives the unit a 100% return rate.

They now have Leitrim next Saturday evening which will be a very tall order, but one that they will look forward to. 

The teams swapped four points to open the game, but Donegal will rue some misses that they had from two frees and one from play. All were scoreable.

After Four Ps settled down they had the first goal chance of the game when a cross ball from Shane Mulgrew was fisted goal bound by attacking center half Caolan Daly. Eunon Doherty reacted smartly, however, and cleared the danger.

It was not averted for long, though. A flowing move created a chance in front of goal for Chris Calhoun, and he shook the net with a bullet with 10 minutes on the clock. It was followed by a point by the same player before Donegal had their best period of the game.

They had three of the next four points, with John McNicholas taking over the free taking duties and also prominent in open play.

It was a small respite, however. When Four Ps attacked they did it in waves. A quick ball into the corner was picked up by Mike Higgins. He soloed in and passed to Mikey Jordan who flicked to the net. Calhoun followed with a free before a seven player move that began when Jordan took a sideline ended with the ball in the net courtesy of James McCann. It made the lead 3-5 to 0-5.

Donegal responded immediately with a goal of their own that had a lot to do with the elements. A speculative ball from Tony McMahon drifted under the crossbar and gave Mickey Grimes a difficult task. His hand pushed it against the crossbar and to the floor, but Anton Toner was first to react and poked it to the net.

Four Ps were not in the giving mood on this afternoon, however, and they quickly replied with a pair of points from Justin O’Halloran and Calhoun that easily of set a McNicholas free to leave the half time score 3-6 to 1-6.

It was all Donegal to open the second half. They had five of the first six points to put a major dent on the score line. McNicholas had three as he continued his excellent performance.

With 10 minutes gone they were back within five. Before they got their next point, a fisted score from C.J. Molloy in the 20th minute, Four Ps had responded with 1-4, with the goal coming from Calhoun when he linked with Jordan after good work by Thomas Hughes.

 The game was turned again in the favor of the out of towners by the impressive play of Hughes, Paul Walsh and Richard Morgan. When the ball was moved out, the forward line moved it quickly to the scoring end with little fanfare. A very impressive tactic.

Points from Gary Dowd and Molloy again were easily cancelled by a point from Jordan and a goal at the end by Hughes.

Four Ps had some very good performers in this outing. Full back Roger Morgan is a quality addition, while Padraig Mallon and Caolan Daly did well on the half line. Daly loves to drive forward and is very dangerous when he does.

Thomas Hughes is a high fielding player from Padraig Joyce’s club Killerarin in Galway. Chris Calhoun was brilliant up front, but he had plenty of help from Jordon, Mulgrew first half, and James McCann. Good to see Liam O’Donnell back on the field in a cameo appearance.

James Huvane, Aiden Downs, John McNicholas who was tremendous, and Conor Brosnahan were Donegal’s best in this outing.

Donegal: 1 Eunan Doherty, 2 Kevin Purce, 3 James Huvane, 4 Owen O’Neill, 5 Anton Toner (1-0), 6 Aiden Downes, 7 Shane Carr, 8 Brian O’Connor, 9 Dermot Friel, 10 Bobby McDonald (0-2), 11 Gary Dowd (0-1), 12 John McNicholas (0-6), 13 Tony McMahon (0-1), 14 C.J. Molloy (0-3). 15 Conor Brosnahan (0-1).

Four Provinces: 1 Mike Grimes, 2 Mark Peacock, 3 Roger Morgan, 4 David Doyle, 5 Padraig Mallon, 6 Caolan Daly (0-2), 7 Justin O’Halloran (0-1), 8 Thomas Hughes (1-0), 9 Caolan Doyle, 10 Mickey Jordon (1-1), 11 Mike Higgins (0-1), 12 James McCann (1-0), 13 Chris Calhoun (2-5), 14 Paul Walsh, 15 Shane Mulgrew (0-2). Subs: Liam Moore, Michael Boyle.

Man of the match: John McNicholas (Donegal).

Referee: Tommy Fahey (Waterford).

Points the Way for Leitrim

Leitrim 0-16 Cork 2-9

A slew of points, particularly in the second half, helped to pave the way for a Leitrim win in this contest on Saturday evening.

Scott Conroy led the way with six from play as he continues to lead the way in the player of the year rankings in senior football. His side built up a six-point lead with six minutes left on the clock and was able to withstand a furious Cork comeback attempt. 

Alan Rafferty immediately lost a jersey on the throw-in when the Leitrim midfield grabbed a hold of it and made practically two halves out of it. The game needed to be stopped to allow him to replace it, but akin to a tree falling in the forest, no one heard a thing!

Leitrim opened brightly thereafter, with John O’Neill, Dan Doona and Ray O’Connor all slotting over points. Doona’s was a free after Jamie Doolin was fouled, while the young O’Connor had a brilliant point of the outside of the right foot.

They were not winning the middle but were moving the ball through that area quickly to set up chances up front.

Cork had a point from J.P. Boyle when Rory Stafford did the groundwork as they slowly got into the game. It was coming from the midfield dominance where Rafferty was doing a lot of quality work.

Conroy had his first point of the game on 11 minutes when Adrian O’Connor set him free, but that was cancelled out by another JP score. This time Conor Hunter was fouled, and he was to this point winning the exchange with his county teammate John Goldrick.

The game could have been turned on its head shortly thereafter when David Crimmins was set free in front of goal. Perhaps the chance was not as easy as it looked but it was a wide at the end.

Rafferty and Doona swapped scores, with Raff’s a brilliant effort on the run down the right as Cork stayed with Leitrim. The same pair followed up minutes later with the same results to leave the score line after 23 minutes 0-7 to 0-4 in Leitrim’s favor.

While Cork added to their total with a Joe O’Neill free, Leitrim had a tremendous opportunity to add to their score when they were awarded a very fortunate free when Doona was judged to have been fouled. Shane Doolin came up to take the kick, but his weak drive was easily saved by Evan Byrne before the break.

Boyle and Conroy added points to their team’s totals in the first two minutes of the second half to keep the difference at two between the sides.

Leitrim had the next two points from Doona and John O’Neill, but Cork had a bigger blow when Sean Lordon had to go off injured after a clash in the center.

They did recover, however, when a long ball from Rory Stafford got behind the defense and Boyle grabbed it and slotted to the net. After another Conroy point, Joe O’Neill had Cork’s seventh point to put one point between the sides with 15 minutes on the clock.

They failed to put a dent in the backline in the next eight, however, while Leitrim added five to their total with Scott Conroy getting two, Kenny O’Connor off the bench pulling down two long deliveries and getting two, while Doona had the last.

It all left Leitrim in a 0-16 to 1-7 lead with five on the clock. Cork was not finished, however.

Boyle had a free when Francie Cleary was fouled. On their next attack Goldrick grabbed the ball and was fouled as he attempted to get clear. He and Boyle had a little chest bump, harmless stuff, but it was adjudged to be enough that Goldrick lost the free and the ball was thrown up.

Cork won it and a fisted cross was helped to the net by again. Not so harmless after all.

Two further waves of attacks from the Rebels resulted in a free by Nicky Dineen going over the bar, but time ran out before they could get another chance and Leitrim had the win.

Leitrim will be happy with Dermot Keane, Shane Doolin and Owen O’Neill at the back. Mark Delaney had some timely catches, but the long ball worked in the end when Boyle got his first goal.

O’Neill is a gem. Midfield lost the war but won some little battles. Scott Conroy is a prime example of someone who needs to be double-teamed; half a chance and it is over the bar. John O’Neill had a very good first half, Dan Doona roamed far and wide while Jamie Doolin was fouled for a number of frees. Big Kenny got two points in his return from suspension, and both were needed.

Cork will be disappointed. Evan Byrne did all that was asked. No praise for the penalty save, however -- it was that poorly struck. Denis McCarthy battled all day against Doolin. Sean Lordon was in the game until his injury and was a big loss. David Crimmins goes wherever they ask and is very consistent. 

Alan Rafferty won the midfield and Stafford did a lot of good work as well. Conor Hunter was winning his exchanges against Goldrick and was moved, possibly a bad one. J.P. Boyle was trying all day and the feeds were not all the best. Donal Broderick battled when he came in off the bench.

The side needs another player who can get 1-3 or four points when Boyle is shut down to make them a bonafide contender.

Leitrim: 1 Pa Ryan, 2 Alan Foley, 3 Mark Delaney, 4 Dermot Keane, 5 John Goldrick, 6 Shane Doolin, 7 Eoin O’Neill, 8 Adrian O’Connor, 9 Pat Madden, 10 John O’Neill (0-2), 11 Scott Conroy (0-6), 12 Mike Creegan, 13 Ray O’Connor (0-1), 14 Dan Doona (0-4), 15 Jamie Doolin (0-1). Subs: Kenny O’Connor (0-2).

Cork: 1 Evan Byrne, 2 Denis McCarthy, 3 Kevin Cotter, 4 Paddy Harrington, 5 Liam Hanley, 6 Sean Lordon, 7 Derek Courtney, 8 Alan Raferty (0-2), 9 Rory Stafford, 10 Francie Cleary, 11 David Crimmins, 12 Conor Hunter, 13 Joe O’Neill (0-2), 14 J.P. Boyle (2-4), 15 Nicky Dineen (0-1). Subs: Donal Broderick.

Man of the match: Scott Conroy (Leitrim).

Referee: John Fitzpatrick (Rockland).

Cavan 4-16 Fermanagh 1-6

Cavan used a balanced attack to easily take the points in this Ladies senior football contest weekend. Five of six forwards scored, with Caitlin Hynes excellent in the outing.

Fermanagh had one gun up front in Caroline Murphy, and while they battled hard throughout she was the only danger point. Therefore the defense was easily able to quell the threat.

Cavan started brightly with two points from Hynes and Emma Clarke. Hynes was showing well despite a heavy knee brace on the right leg from a horrible injury last year.

After Murphy had Fermanagh's first point, Cavan reacted with two goal chances. The first was missed when Clare McElroy made a timely tackle on Louise Curran. The second found the net when Linda McKeon made a trademark solo run and blast.

Clarke followed with a point and Donna Traynor did well to thwart an attack before Fermanagh had an extended period of pressure. Hard work from Murphy, Roisin Williams and Saoirse Finnigan pinned Cavan deep in their defensive zone.

Wides, however, and confident play by Katie Kilkenny and Nicola Rogan killed scoring chances.

Cavan finally broke out of the defense when Katie Kilkenny found Aimee Gomez with an outlet pass. She flicked to Siobhan Devlin, and after a long solo run Clarke passed to McArdle and the ball was in the net. Excellent.

Four further points for Cavan were followed by an excellent save by Traynor on Clarke. She was beaten before the break, however, when a speculative drive that may have been meant to go over dipped under the bar for a goal.

A further 1-3 was added to the Cavan total to one point in reply as the first 10 minutes of the second half unfolded. Fermanagh did pull a goal back when Breige Fox ghosted behind the defense after 13 minutes to slot low to the net, but it was a short lived respite. Two Rosie O’Reilly points and an Clarke beauty cancelled it out easily.

McArdle had the final two scores of the game as Cavan ran out easy winners.

Katie Kilkenny had an excellent afternoon in goal for Cavan. Her kick outs constantly gave them an option. Nicola Rogan, Siobhan Devlin, and the brilliant Shauna Kieran were exceptional at the back. Linda McKeon’s goal was a gem, Emma Clarke had a quite day but still had 0-5.

Caitlin Hynes is a star on the rise, confident, a great ball carrier and has all the skills. Rosie O’Reilly kicked three good points.

For Fermanagh, Donna Traynor could not be faulted for her work rate. Clare McElroy, Roisin Williams and Caroline Murphy also had good outings, with Murphy a scoring machine on a tough day.

Cavan: 1 Katie Kilkenny, 2 Katie McEvoy, 3 Nicola Rogan, 4 Bridget Mulligan, 5 Roisin Clarke, 6 Sharon Kieran, 7 Siobhan Devlin, 8 Linda McKeon (1-0), 9 Aimee Gomez, 10 Caitlin McNicholas (1-0), 11 Emma Clarke (0-5), 12 Caitlin Hynes (1-4), 13 Kelly McArdle (1-4), 14 Rosie O’Reilly (0-3), 15 Louise Curran. Sub: Nora Kilkenny.

Fermanagh: 1 Donna Traynor, 2 Caitlin Slattery, 3 Clare McElroy, 4 Ann Marie Kelly, 5 Noeleen Fitzpatrick, 6 Caroline McArdle, 7 Molly Boyle, 8 Tracey Ann McCullough, 9 Roisin Williams, 10 Caitlin McGuigan, 11 Saoirse Finnigan, 12 Lisa Urbanski, 13 Nicola King, 14 Caroline Murphy (0-6), 15 Breige Fox (1-0).

Player of the game: Caitlin Hynes (Cavan).

Referee: Emmitt Woods (Rockland).

Tyrone 1-10 Down 1

The Big Red Machine keeps on winning. With Tyrone winning across the pond, Tyrone in New York continues their run through the senior division without a loss.

The no name defense again paid huge dividends, with Gerard McCullough in particular outstanding. He won his individual battle with Pakie Downey hands down, and this was the foundation for an impressive win.

Down are a second half team, but when they went ahead of Tyrone in the early minutes of the second half the winners were able to react in a positive manner and out-score their rivals 1-4 to 1-1 in the final 15 minutes.

The game had a huge physical side from the get-go, with no quarter given or taken. Tyrone’s John Murtagh had the first point of the game from play and followed it with a delightful score from the right moments later.

When Conor Skeffington chipped over with a tremendous effort from the right it was three up. Down awoke and had a brace in reply, both coming from Robbie Moran, before the game got a little more physical with both sides guilty of indiscresions.

Tyrone was dominating the game, but it was not showing on the scoreboard, at least not to the extent that it should have. Pakie McMullan and Murtagh with a further two gave them a six point total by the 20th minute, but the Down forwards, especially the full forward line, created chances for frees that Moran put over to keep their side in the mix.

Good play by James Mitchell and Sean Kelly at the back also helped their cause as they stopped three attacks with dogged determination. It all meant that despite Tyrone’s best efforts they were only up by two at the half.

Down closed the gap in the first five minutes of the second half with points from Brendan McGourty and Downey. They were hustling to the ball first, and the replacement of Richard Dalton a little further out the field was having dividends.

The Tyrone defense was under tremendous pressure, but Gerard McCullough was doing a fantastic job on Downey that stifled that line of attack. Moran pushed the side into the lead with his fourth point of the day, but then Tyrone reacted with vengeance. They had the next three scores and it started with thunder.

A Garth McCrory pass found Murtagh on the run, and the Hitman made no mistake as it found net. It was followed by points from Murtagh again and Eamonn Lyons, who galloped forward to join the attack.

It had extended the Tyrone lead to 1-8 to 0-7 before Down had a Declan Treanor score from a free to slow the motion. That was cancelled out, however, by Murtagh’s fifth point of the day to again put four between the sides.

With three minutes on the clock all looked lost, but Down continued to make it interesting when they had one final attack that reaped dividends. A long ball to the full forward line from McGourty was pulled down by Downey. He flicked to the inrushing Michael O’Rourke, and the ball was in the net to put the minimum between the teams.

Tyrone won the kickout, however, and worked the ball forward. Gary Reilly grapped possession and slotted over an insurance score.

Tyrone will be delighted to be sitting on top of the league table and now look to be on a collision course with Leitrim. Joe Bell, Gerard McCullough and Steve Keating were excellent at the back. Downey was completely snuffed out, while the other summer players for Down did little.

Midfield was a stalemate. All four players had moments. Pakie McMullan did a lot of effective running; perhaps Sean Munnelly should have been given the job of tailing him. McMullan certainly doesn’t sit in the middle. John Murtagh is a one man scoring machine -- stop him and you have a shot at stopping Tyrone. No one has come close yet.

Down will look at the displays of Richard Dalton when he went out the field, James Mitchell, Brendan McGourty in his second game of the day, as decent. Robbie Moran and Mark Dobbins were the few who were any way consistent up front.   

Down: 1 Mark Kelly, Brian Murray, 3 Richard Dalton, 4 Barry Annett, 5 Sean Kelly, 6 James Mitchell, 7 Sean Munnelly, 8 Garth O’Neill, 9 Brendan McGourty (0-1), 10 Declan Treanor (0-2), 11 Robbie Moran (0-4), 12 Michael Sloan, 13 Pakie Downey (0-1), 14 Mark Dobbins, 15 Michael O’Rourke (1-0).

Tyrone: 1 John McGinley, 2 Joe Bell, 3 Gerard McCullough, 4 Paul Mulhern, 5 Aiden Power, 6 Steve Keating, 7 Seamus Skeffington, 8 Gary Reilly (0-1), 9 Eamon Lyons (0-1), 10 Conor Skeffington (0-1), 11 Pakie McMullan (0-1), 12 Pat Maguire, 13 Kevin McSorley, 14 John Murtagh (1-6), 15 Conor McNabb.

Man of the match: Gerard McCullough (Tyrone).

Referee: Sean Jones (Fermanagh).