Joes Shine Against the Odds

08 Jul 2017

Senior Championship – Round 1 St. Josephs 0-15, St. Marys 0-15.

The Joes graduated last year to Senior following their success in the Intermediate Championship of 2016. The team came agonisingly close to promotion from Division 2 that would have left us competing in the top tier of the League but it wasn’t to be. The challenge would be to retain our Senior status in 2017 and that was before we were drawn in the ‘Group of Death’ with last years Senior Championship winners Sean O’Mahonys and last years defeated Senior finalists St. Marys.


The league Campaign has had so many ups and downs and close calls that we (supporters) entered the championship more in hope than confidence. However we knew from the team during this week that there was a much greater belief in the squad that they would give their first round opponents a very competitive match. So it was to be on a balmy sunny summers evening in the Grove that the Joes started their 2017 Senior Championship campaign against St. Marys with an excellent support including a few exiled Ardee men.


After a cagey opening the Joes showed their early intent when a Killian Staunton delivery was taken forward by Daire Smyth to Derek Mulligan whose superb effort from the right wing was tipped over by Marys keeper Peter Duffy. The Marys responded with a hotly disputed point on 5 minutes from the boot of Jamie Rooney. The Marys dominated possession with Daire McConnon & Darren Clarke the main play makers converting points to put the Marys two up on 8 minutes. A quickly taken side line kick by Daire Smyth setup up the Joes leading marksman Alan Quigley for his first point of the game. The Marys duo of Clarke and McConnon continued to torment the Joes defence with Clarke converting a 45 and a 13m free while in between McConnon easily found the space to hit two points and the Joes were down by 0-7 to 0-2 on 15mins. Derek Mulligan setup Jack Mulligan who clinically curved the ball between the posts. The Ardee men continued to attack in waves and full back John Bingham weaved his way on a 50m run along the left sideline to add another point and Clarke found himself in acres of space to make the score Marys 0-9, Joes 0-3 on 21mins and the Joes supporters feared the worst.


However we know from the 2016 League and Championship campaign that the Joes are not easily beaten and the team responded brilliantly. An Alan Quigley pass found Craig Doherty who split the posts from a difficult angle on the right. On 24 mins it was the hard working Cian McGuinness who passed to Conal O’Hanlon and despite heavy traffic O’Hanlon hit the target to reduce the margin to four points. The final minutes of the half saw timely interceptions from Alan Lynch, Stefan Pots, Shane McQuillan & David Kieran that limited the Marys opportunities. The sides traded scores with points from Daire Smyth for the Joes and Cian Moran for the Marys and the half ended with St. Marys 0-10, St. Josephs 0-6.


The second half started with Alan McKenna replacing Daire Smyth. The Joes started brightly with Alan Quigley converting a free from just inside the 45m line only for Mark Fay to hit back for the Marys. A 21m free from the left by Darren Clarke had the Marys ahead by 0-12 to 0-7 on 39mins. The Joes raised their game with three points in as many minutes, firstly a superb strike from wide on the left by Alan Quigley was followed by a fisted effort from Derek Mulligan before Mulligan was fouled for Quigley to point the resultant 13m free. The score now stood at Marys 0-12 to Joes 0-10 on 42mins. The Marys responded with two points in quick succession from half back Cian Moran and Alan Kirk and the Joes were behind by four at the end of third quarter. Little did we know that the Marys would be limited to a single point for the remaining 17mins of the match.


The Joes were not going down easily and a superb team effort saw the Joes fight their way back into contention. Firstly it was an excellent run by Cian McGuinness and he hit the target from 30m on 47mins. A 30m free from Alan Quigley was followed by a superb David Kieran run that was converted by Conall Smyth. On 50mins we saw the score of the match and possibly a contender for one of the points of the year when a glorious cross field pass from Derek Mulligan dropped into the arms of Alan Quigley and his shot from an acute angle on the left had the umpires searching the skies and raising the white flag for the Joes, the sides were level for only the second time in the match.


The final 10mins say the defences on top, Robert Sansom was quick off his line and Alan Lynch and Shane McQuillan put their bodies on the line to break down the Marys attacks. Marys had their final score from Darren Clarke on 53mins while the Joes went close with two frees from extremely difficult angles. It was Alan Quigley who kept his composure under severe opposition pressure to hit the target from a 30 free on 59mins and bring the sides level for the third and final time. The final minutes saw the Joes go for the win and two attacks came up short and when the Joes shot on goal was blocked down on 61mins Paul Kneels long whistle called time on a superb Joes effort and the sides shared the points on 0-15 each.


This was a superb all round team effort by the Joes with the odds stacked against them in more ways than one. Each and everyone gave their all with a number taking to the field and struggling through the pain barrier on a night that will be remembered for all the right reasons. Our next outing will be no different when we face the might of the County champions of 2016 in the second round next weekend.


St Josephs: Robert Sansom, Alan Lynch, Shane McQuillan, Stefan Pots, Cian McGuinness (0-1), Killian Staunton, David Kieran, Conal O’Hanlon (0-1), Tomas Smyth, Craig Doherty (0-1), Daire Smyth (0-1), Jack Mulligan (0-1), Alan Quigley (0-6, 4f), Derek Mulligan (0-2), Conall Smyth (0-1), Alan McKenna (0-1) for Daire Smyth 30mins, Peter Brennan for Tomas Smyth 46mins.


St. Marys: Peter Duffy, Eamon Callaghan, John Bingham (0-1), Conor Keenan, Kian Moran (0-1), Eimhin Keenan, Jamie Rooney (0-1), Ronan Carroll, Robert Leavy, Daire McConnon (0-3), Darren Clarke (0-6, 2f, 45), Mark Fay (0-1), Alan Kirk (0-1), Ryan Rooney, Dean Matthews, Paudie Clarke for Ryan Rooney 34mins.

(Report: Pat Coyne)

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