Minor Championship Semi Final Awaits after Victory over Plunketts

31 Aug 2009

Like their older counterparts a day earlier, the Joes minors recorded a tight and hard fought one point win to progress to the next stage in the championship. Facing a team who had soundly beaten them in the league, the Joes just about made their efforts count in the more important meeting of the two teams. After torrential rain all day long, there would not have been too many pitches the county that were even playable, but the Joes surface as usual stood up to the conditions. The lads took to the field in glorious sunshine on a wet pitch, with a small amount of surface water.


The Joes were the quicker team to settle, scoring an unanswered 1-2 in the first ten minutes, while all that the Plunketts had to show for their efforts from this period were three wides. Alan Mc Kenna opened the scoring with a free from the right corner after two minutes. This was followed by a very good point from Alan Lynch off his left foot from the left corner. The goal was a good move, Alan Quigley played a great ball into Lynch who laid the ball off to the onrushing Mark Neary, who rifled it to the top of the net. The Plunketts nearly opened their own account with a goal after ten minutes, when the full forward made a great run along the length of the endline, before being denied by David Mernagh in goals. They did get off the mark in the 14th minute, after an arguably soft free was granted to them 40 yards out, which their right wing man made no mistake about pointing. Mark Neary was again in on goal a couple of minutes later, but a good save denied him. However, the resultant clearance only ended up in the right corner, where Alan Lynch was on hand to take another super point and leave the Joes leading by five at the quarter hour mark.


The Plunketts however mounted the first of their comebacks at this stage. In a whirlwind two minutes they had brought the game level. With two points from play and a well taken the goal, that came about after some less than admirable Joes defending in the half back line. The Joes had the play back down the field a minute later, where Lynch again played Mark Neary through for a goal chance. This one was blocked out for a 50, which Alan Mc Kenna struck soundly over the bar to settle Joes nerves. Alan Lynch would restore the five point lead after 21 minutes with his third point of the half. Ciaran O Hare was called upon to make a goal line clearance a minute later after a long range free dropped in dangerously on the square. Shortly after this David Mernagh was brave against a dangerous tackle, to again defy the Plunketts a goal. But their second goal was coming and it was also the second goal for their lively full forward. Plunketts won a free on the left wing, it was taken quickly and dropped into the square, where keeper and defence were unable to deal with it. The only other incident of note before the half time whistle was a skirmish that broke out on the clubhouse sideline in injury time over in front of Plunketts sub bench. With the referee deciding to issue no cards to either team following the incident, the teams went in with 15 men still standing, but it left the feeling that there would be more big hits to come in the second half! Just like the day before, the Joes went in a point down at the break!
Half Time Score: St Josephs 1-5, Oliver Plunketts 2-3


The Joes got the ideal start to the second half, Alan Mc Kenna won a free from the throw in, which he played in long. The ball was fumbled about in defence before it broke to Lorcan Doyle, who calmly side footed it to the net. More incident was to follow immediately. While Alan Quigley was busy winning a free for the Joes on the fifty yard line, a four man brawl had broken out, which lead to Sean Mc Quillan having to be blood subbed. Mc Quillan would however, return to the field all the better for his wee break and play a vital part in the Joes success. Alan Mc Kenna took the free that had been won before the brawl, which the referee allowed to be jumped down (!). This didnt ultimately matter as the ball ended up with Mc Kenna again on the left side, from where he kicked a skyscraper of a point. The Plunketts did at this point pull one point back, before another crucial Joes score. The kickout was played directly to Ciaran O Hare in space, who in turn found Conal Smyth in the middle, he then played the long ball into Alan Lynch in the full forward line, before he buried his shot to net. This great. direct, quick passing move the whole length of the pitch again restored the margin to five points, with 37 minutes gone. However, the Joes would then go for nearly twenty minutes without registering a score! In this period the Plunketts would score four unanswered points to bring it back to a one point game. This was partly down to the Joes losing their heads and their shape, it was the Plunketts however, who would lose a man. After 14 minutes they were down to 14 men when their forty yards man saw a second yellow, following one of many off the ball incidents during the game.


With only five minutes of  normal time to go, despite holding a one point lead and a one man advantage, it was the Plunketts who were on the ascendancy. However, up stood Mark Neary to take on a sideline ball from only 14 yards out from the endline. It was a case of eat your heart out Cian Ward, as he confidently converted, for a superb point and a small bit of breathing space. Two points is always a dangerous lead and Sean Mc Quillan was on hand to make a crucial goal line block in the 28th minute. The Plunketts would pull a point back after 30 minutes to leave the minimum between them. But the Joes managed to see out a nervy three minutes of injury time, much to the joy and relief of the strong home support, players and management alike.
Full Time Score: St Josephs 3-7, Oliver Plunketts 2-9


This was the first time that this particular bunch of players had beaten the Plunketts at any level, what a time to do it. Their reward is a place in the Minor A Championship semi final. The fixture for this is yet to be set, but it is expected that it will be before one of the Senior Championship semi finals. In their way are two clubs who once solidered with the Joes to win that very prize on offer! The amalagamation of Mochtas, Annaghminnion Rovers, Sean O Mahonys, Dowdalshill are a good side and you can expect another tight game the next day with these sides having drawn in the league in a game played on the Point Road. So two heart stopping wins in two days, means that we have another team looking forward a big championship outing.


Team: David Mernagh, Niall Lennon, Andrew Cluskey, Daragh Smith, Stephen Smith, Ciaran O Hare, Christopher Brennan, Alan Mc Kenna (0-3), Daire Mc Kernan, Sean Mc Quillan, Mark Neary (1-1), Conal Smyth, Alan Quigley, Alan Lynch (1-3), Lorcan Doyle (1-0).
Subs Used: Ian Mc Donald for Christopher Brennan, John Mc Kenna for Conal Smyth, Philip Brennan for Stephen Smith, Conal Smyth for Ian Mc Donald.

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