Title holders Gort survive big scare in exciting tussleOctober 18, 2012 - 7:00am
Padraig Pearses 2-14
Alan Dooley in Ballinasloe
REIGNING champions Gort were mightily relieved to escape from Duggan Park, Ballinasloe having secured a semi final berth at the expense of a valiant Padraig Pearses side on Saturday. A frantic finale almost saw the underdogs manufacture a draw as Pearses’ goalkeeper Fergal Flannery nearly became the unlikely hero of an absorbing quarter-final.
Gort, reduced to 14 men after the dismissal of captain Andy Coen on the stroke of half time, appeared to have weathered the Pearses’ challenge when Greg Lally nudged them seven in front with a little over five minutes remaining. Two early Richie Cummins goals had laid the foundations for their advantage, but Pearses admirably summoned one last surge when all appeared lost.
Cyril Donnellan, who for so long anchored the Pearses defence from centre half back, won a 56th minute free at the other end for which Flannery came forward and blasted high to the net. Emmet Ward, a contender for Man of the Match, converted a free soonafter to leave a goal in it, before Flannery was again summoned forward for a potentially levelling free two minutes into time added on.
Six Gort defenders and goalkeeper Peter Cummins stood in Flannery’s path and the netminder again drove a well-struck effort high towards the target, but this time swift reactions saw Flannery’s effort deflected high and over the bar. It was to be Pearses’ last chance and the final whistle ended their hopes of salvaging what arguably would have been a deserved second chance.
The early omens for a close encounter were not good, however, as Gort scythed through the Pearses’ defence on three occasions in the opening eight minutes. Despite both sides having three scores to their name at the end of that spell, Gort had crucially struck for 2-1 while Emmet Ward registered a hat trick of points (two frees) for Padraig Pearses.
The razor sharp Richie Cummins struck for both of Gort’s goals from close range while the other corner forward Gerard O’Donoghue also sniped an early point. The perceived wisdom was that Gort would now comfortably stroll through the tie, but immense credit is due to Pearses for the manner in which they clung to their coat tails for the remainder of the half.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.