Melvin Gaels 0-12
IF it’s action, drama, romance and excitement you want from your GAA experience these days, then you really should start following the fortunes of the Davitts footballers.
Last Sunday, once again, they treated their travelling army of supporters to the full range of emotions before booking their place in next Saturday’s Connacht Intermediate championship final.
In the first half, Pete Warren’s team turned on the style to blitz Melvin Gaels and the half-time score told its own story; Davitts leading by 1-9 to 0-5.
It was a carbon copy of their first half performance in the recent County Final; the key positions were all under Davitts’ control, the ball was being moved at pace and with precision, and their inside forwards were on song.
Michael Conroy gunned 1-5 before the short whistle while Fergal McGrath and Aidan McTigue each clipped two points from play.
Outside them, Colm Boyle, Ronan McNamara and Paul Carey were masters of all they surveyed, while the half-forward line of Keith Prendergast, David McDonagh and Pat Coyle did the heavy lifting and link-work in equal measure.
Some of the moves and scores brought the words, ‘shock’ and ‘awe’ to mind.
When McNamara drilled over a free to nudge Davitts into an eight-points lead soon after the restart, the outcome seemed set in stone.
However, any thoughts of the second half being a victory parade for the South Mayo lads were quickly dispelled once the Leitrim champions got into their groove.
Davitts seemed to ‘hit the wall’ soon after the restart and their opponents didn’t stand on ceremony as they tried to wipe out the deficit.
With 58 minutes on the clock, just two points separated the sides. The Leitrim men were gaining with every stride and their partisan fans were in full voice.
They had forced their way into contention on the back of three Emlyn Mulligan frees and wind-assisted points from distance from Martin McCarron, Stephen McGurran and Peter McGowan.
Davitts penchant for back-chat and making eye contact with the referee had also made Mulligan’s job a little easier at times, although the county forward did kick some uncharacteristic wides.
In the five remaining minutes though, Davitts dug deep and rallied to the cause.
Men like Colm Boyle, Carlos O’Gara, Ronan McNamara and Aidan McTigue won some hard ball and did small things that made a big difference.
The entire Davitts defence also closed ranks in the face of incessant Melvin Gaels pressure, and when a free was hard-earned at the other end, Michael Conroy lobbed the ball over the bar to put the issue to bed.
That insurance score brought his tally for the day to 1-7, but his two points in the last quarter of the game were invaluable. The first broke a Melvin Gaels run of three points without reply while his last gave Davitts some breathing space.
Melvin Gaels will have been in reflective mood on their journey back to Kinlough. They didn’t turn up in the first half, but if they had been more ruthless during their time in the ascendancy they could have upset the odds.
Instead, a string of shots that dropped short and some bad option-taking let Davitts off the hook.
The winners set the tone in the first quarter and were six points up after fifteen minutes as their full-forward line of McTigue, McGrath and Conroy went to work.
A peach of a point on 90 seconds showed what kind of mood captain Conroy was in, and his goal on six minutes lit up the overcast afternoon.
Fergal McGrath and Keith Prendergast were involved in its creation but the finish was all Conroy; his right-footed shot flying past a startled Jess McGuinness on his near-post from eight yards.
Over the next 25 minutes, it was ‘total football’ from Davitts but there was plenty more twists and turns before the day was over.
M Diskin; C Roche, F Barrett, K Gallagher; J Clarke, C Boyle, J Cummins; R McNamara (0-1, 1f), P Carey; K Prendergast, D McDonagh, P Coyne; A McTigue (0-2), F McGrath (0-2), M Conroy (1-7, 3fs).
Subs used: C O’Gara for Prendergast; A Roche for Clarke; L Kearns for McDonagh; J Ronayne for Carey (inj); M Cosgrove for Cummins.
J McGuinness; S Clancy, F McMorrow, S Ryan; C McGowan, J Phelan, P Brennan; M McCarron (0-1), S McGurran (0-1); D McSharry (0-1), E Mulligan (0-6, 6fs), P McGowan (0-1); T Lipsett (0-1), B Brennan, C Sheridan.
Subs used: K McGlone for Clancy; J Connolly for McCarron; D Roper for Lipsett.
Referee: O Kelly (Roscommon)