October 10th, 2015
St Gabriels: 1-13
Robert Emmetts: 3-15
The semi-final of the Ryan Cup was played in St Gabriels home pitch in East lane on a crisp autumn evening with a strong cross-field breeze blowing throughout. Almost from the throw-in Daryl Roberts got an early point and Eoin Chawke, with a free, had us at 2 a piece after the first 5 minutes. However St Gabriels snuck ahead a minute later with another point. Rory Costello, unlucky with an earlier effort, ran at the Gabriels defence, found a bit of space and unleashed a shot at goal. The goalkeeper made a fantastic save but Danny Buckley sniped in and flashed the ball to the net. It was somewhat against the run of play though, and the Gabriels were winning a lot of possession. We were playing 'catch-up' as they seemed to be bossing the play and soon they reclaimed that goal by rifling one of their own. That was the start of a purple patch for them and they went on to add another 7 points, to just two from us, over the next ten minutes. Crucially though, we stayed battling and teak tough defending from Mark Conroy and Paul Horkan prevented the damage from being any greater. As the half wore on though we began to find our feet - Fergus McMahon started winning a few 50/50 balls and Paddy Breen got in some great blocks. The all-cork midfield of Mícheál Ó Laochdha and Tadhg Healy began to establish themselves and soon our forwards began to pick up the type of possession they needed. Daryl Roberts fired over a neat point from the left corner, and set up Rory for another, while Tadhg struck two great ones himself. When Eoin Chawke knocked over a close range free it left us just two behind (1-10 to 1-8) as the half-time whistle sounded.
As soon as match was restarted the lads picked up where they left off and from 1 to 15 tore into their opponents. The half back-line started to dominate, Fergus McMahon expertly reading the play, was giving an exhibition of high-fielding and using the ball intelligently. Wing-back Paddy Breen and half-time sub Seán Finn were typically dogged, hassling, harrying and clearing every ball that dropped on them. Rory Costello was becoming a menace in the half forward line, winning a lot of possession and delivering into our dangerous full-forward line. We swapped a pointed free each before Eoin Chawke split the posts on the 7-minute mark. A few minutes later the same man popped up again, taking possession out on the 45 and running goalwards. He threw a hand-pass out left to Daryl as he neared the 21. Daryl darted left, drew the full back in and flicked the ball back out to Eoin, who blasted past the Gabriels goalie. We were in front for the first time since the early stages of the match, and the lead would not be relinquished. We were starting to motor now - Rory adding a classy score as we continued to press. Meanwhile the backs continued to keep everything tight. Paul Horkan was marshalling a very stingey full-back line, with Mark Conroy and Steven Griffey sweeping up everything. Seán Ryan's goal was well-protected, but when needed he dealt with a couple of potentially tricky high balls and confidently came off his line to sweep away a couple of loose ones. Cathal Keogh, who had been working hard all match, got in on the scoring act and curled over a massive point off his left. Mícheál burst onto a breaking ball on the right wing, weaved through a couple of tackles and struck over in a tight space. We were completely on top now, and the Gabriels only managed a solitary free to interrupt that sequence. Finally the coup de grace was added as some nice interplay between Daryl and Tadhg resulted in a lovely goal, buried in the bottom-left corner of the net. The Gabriels did manage to rifle over another free, but that was as close as they got, as Eoin Chawke roamed out towards midfield, found a bit of space and belted over a monster score.
In the end it was a fine win. The lads showed great heart and patience as they withstood the early Gabriels storm to find their feet and then find the target. After draws in our league and championship meetings it was good to get a win over our rivals, but there were no wild celebrations - the biggest match so far this year awaits in Ruislip next weekend: the Senior Hurling Championship semi-final against the holders, Kilburn Gaels.
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