SUPPORT Tourmakeady fans at the match.
Tourmakeady miss target
ONE of the most approriate truisms in sport is that you don’t always get what you deserve. And so it proved for the footballers of Tourmakeady last Sunday as they trudged away disconsolately from Kingspan Breffni Park.
To put their disappointment into context, a victory over the Ulster champions would have earned the small, rural club from the Gaeltacht an historic All-Ireland Final appearance at Croke Park next month.
Instead, ten first half wides and a poor final quarter – combined with some indifferent individual displays – sent them tumbling out at the penultimate stage.
Tourmakeady didn’t deserve to lose this game in the manner they did but whether or not their display was worthy of victory or not is a moot point.
This game was more a war of attrition than anything and looked set to be heading for extra-time as injury-time kicked in. The teams were locked together and neither side seemed capable of winning the game in regulation time. Both had chances to do so but they came and went.
Two minutes of stoppage-time had elapsed when Eoghan Ruadh’s Sean Leo McGoldrick took aim and fired from out on the right wing. The corner-forward’s shot tailed just inside Brian Heneghan’s left-hand post. Seconds later the final whistle sounded. Over. And out.
It was a cruel way for Tourmakeady to exit the All-Ireland series but in the days and weeks ahead, when they reflect on the one that got away, they will realise that this was not one of their finest hours.
Their shooting was off-key throughout and they found it difficult to break down a hard-working, disciplined, tireless Eoghan Ruadh back division.
It took Pat Burke’s team 19 minutes to register their first score and a quarter of an hour had elapsed in the second half before they troubled the umpires after changing ends. The last fifteen minutes also passed without a Tourmakeady score so a picture of the malaise that affected their attack begins to form.
Eoghan Ruadh, a young club from Derry, were playing their third match in eight days but, ironically, finished the stronger. They also started marginally the better.
Tourmakeady had shot seven wides by the 17th minute while their opponents had registered two scores.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Brian Naughton nailed a fine score with his left foot and the huge crowd of travelling supporters stood to attention.
Tourmakeady continued to create opportunities but far too many went abegging. The approach work of the wandering Michael John Walsh, Brendan Prendergast and John Heneghan was impressive, but over-elaboration and poor shot selection were rife closer to goal.
Ciaran Walsh, normally unflappable when catching sight of the goalposts, was also affected on occasion. However, he held his nerve twice before half-time (once from a free) to land scores that sent Tourmakeady in at half-time ahead by 0-3 to 0-2.
Walsh did not return for the second half and the consensus seemed to be that his team’s physical condition and freshness would stand them in good stead.
Six minutes into the second period that theory was beginning to look suspect. Eoghan Ruadh had not scored for over 20 minutes when Richard Carey, an honest wing-forward, latched onto a long ball over the top and smacked it past Brian Heneghan.
On a day when scores were hard to come by this goal shone like a beacon. The Coleraine side led by 1-2 to 0-3 and Tourmakeady’s backs were to the wall.
Joe Heneghan, who performed excellently, had a goalbound shot smothered soon after that coincided with his team’s best spell of the match.
Team captain Brian Naughton lobbed over an inspirational score to narrow the margin on 45 minutes before the industrious Stephen O’Neill levelled the game spectacularly a couple of minutes later.
The tide had turned in Tourmakedy’s favour with the six sets of brothers that were on the field (along with MJ’s Walsh and Meeneghan) looking full of confidence.
Adrian Dolan chipped over a 13m free in the 48th minute to ease Tourmakeady into the lead for only the second time. There seemed to be only one conclusion.
Incredibly, the Mayo standard-bearers were not to score again. Instead Eoghan Ruadh found their second wind and threw everything into attack. Man of the match, Barry McGoldrick was central to their renaissance as was their solid midfield partnership.
McGoldrick nicked the equalising score in the 52nd minute to set up the grandstand finish and the closing stages were mostly played out in Tourmakeady’s half.
Extra-time looked to be inevitable as the match ticked deep into injury-time but Eoghan Ruadh managed to work one, last opening. The right man in the right place was the classy Sean Leo McGoldrick (who played with Derry in the McKenna Cup this year) and he broke Tourmakeady hearts with one swing of his right boot.
It may be of little consolation to them right now but the team that Pat Burke, Tom Whelan and Jack Grimes built has plenty to be positive about. The coming season brings senior football and this defeat may mark only the end of the beginning.
R McGeough; N Holly, C Mullan, F Diamond; C Trolan, M Mearns, A Rafferty; SP Henry, K Lagan; M McGonigle, B McGoldrick (0-1), R Carey (1-1); SL McGoldrick (0-1), M McTaggart, C McGoldrick (0-1).
Sub used: C Lenehan for Carey.
B Heneghan; M Heneghan, MJ Walsh, A O’Neill; D Prendergast, B Prendergast, MJ Meeneghan; M O’Neill, John Heneghan; S O’Neill (0-1), T Naughton, Joe Heneghan; M Ronan, C Walsh (0-2, 1f), B Naughton (0-2).
Subs used: A Dolan (0-1, 1f) for C Walsh; K Dolan for Ronan.
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)
“We had a very poor first half and we thought that we could cut loose in the second half. But we couldn’t. You have those days when things don’t go right. I don’t think Coleraine deserved to win it but we didn’t play well.
We just didn’t get enough scores during our period of dominance. It’s very disappointing. You want to win every game you play, you want to play in Croke Park, but it wasn’t to be.”
The Numbers game
10 - The number of wides Tourmakeady kicked in the first half of last Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final. More followed in the second half.
7 - The number of sets of brothers that lined out for the Mayo champions during the game.
9 - The number of games that Tourmakeady played in the championship and the number of months since their first game in this competition.