9th August, 2015
St Gabriels: 2-13
Robert Emmetts: 2-13
On a sunny evening in Ruislip we started with a light breeze at our backs. We started brightly and were first to score. In a nip-and-tuck first half we enjoyed some early chances and were unlucky not to get a goal after Conor Campion robbed the full-back as he attempted to clear. Minutes later Daryl Roberts raced through on goal and fired just inside the 21, only for his shot to be deflected for a 65 in an excellent save. Eoin Chawke pointed though to get us to 3 points apiece. Some nice link-up play between Kieran Fitzpatrick and Daryl Roberts, after hard work by Rory Costello, put us in front again. Our defence was working hard - the full back line of Mark Conroy, Paul Horkan and Neil Magill snuffed out the Gabriel's goal threat, while Paddy Breen and Sean Finn on the wings were quick to read every breaking ball and support Fergus McMahon who was expertly holding the centre. Scores continued to be hard to come by but Denis O'Regan, who was proving to be a handful at left half-forward, struck a neat point off his left. Mick O'Dwyer was very unlucky from a tight angle minutes later after jinking inside the Gabriel's defence with some impressive stick work. After exchanging a couple of scores from placed balls we went in leading by two at the break.
Gabriel's showed their intent early on in the second half, pointing seconds after the throw-in and following it up with the equaliser a minute later. Kieran Fitz, who was having a stormer at centre-field, stemmed the tide with a reply of his own before a big swing in momentum. Gabriel's broke through our half back line and struck a low dipping shot. Sean Ryan, despite being unsighted by the low evening sun, managed to react quickly and deflect the ball out to the side. However the Gabriel's corner forward was quickest to react and pulled first time to drive the ball into the net, giving them a two point lead. We pulled a score back through a Mick O'Dwyer free, but minutes later were hit by a hammer blow. A long looping shot from midfield took a funny bounce on the 21, deceiving our full back line and leaving a Gabriel's corner forward one-on-one. He gave Sean no chance and stretched the gap to four. Our hopes seemed to be fading when they put a pointed free with that, while at the other end their defence seemed to grow in confidence. On the three-quarter mark we finally got a lucky break when a long-range Eoin Chawke free found its way to the net. The game caught fire as Gabriel's responded, but with only two between us entering the final five minutes our lads saw that a victory was within our grasp. We turned up the pressure as we searched for a winner. Sean Ryan dropped in a monstrous free and Danny Buckley floated in a huge sideline cut from near the 45 that bounced agonisingly off the post. Both attacks were cleared and as the clock ticked past the hour Paddy Murphy bravely fielded a high ball amid a thicket of hurleys and won a free. Sean Ryan obliged and launched another high ball down onto the Gabriel's square. The initial shot was batted out but Paddy Breen collected and ran hard at Gabriel's defence, laying off a hand-pass to Eoin Chawke. He drilled a rasping low shot into the impossibly crowded goalmouth. Fergus McMahon got a hurl in to block an attempted clearance and a first time pull drove the ball into the bottom-left corner of the net to give us the lead with time almost up. As we celebrated though the Gabriel's had the last say and quickly countered in a sweeping move to level with the last puck of the game.
The lads can be very proud of the spirit shown to fight back from the brink of defeat but will nevertheless be disappointed that outright victory escaped us. There's little time to dwell on the result though - next up is Cú Chulainns in a must-win game.
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