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Jarlath’s look more likely

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St Muredach’s Kevin McLoughlin has his jersey tested by St Jarlath’s Barry Moran
TUG OF WAR St Muredach’s Kevin McLoughlin has his jersey tested by St Jarlath’s Barry Moran during last week’s Connacht Colleges Senior A Championship semi-final. Pic: Michael Donnelly

Jarlath’s look more likely

SEMI-FINAL
St Jarlath’s 2-16

Tuam
St Muredach’s 2-4
Ballina

MIKE FINNERTY
BALLYHAUNIS

 
IT may have lacked pomp, ceremony and even punctuality but this Connacht Colleges Senior A Championship semi-final last Friday will be remembered for the time-honoured efficiency of St Jarlath’s College, Tuam.
The most famous nursery of them all were far from the finished article here but they were still able to run out twelve point winners despite misfiring for long spells of a lively encounter. That fact says as much about the anaemic nature of Ballina’s second half display as it does about their conquerors.
The final scoreline does little justice to the honest endeavour of St Muredach’s but a dearth of genuine quality and guile from numbers eight to fifteen meant that they were always playing catch-up.
And while the noisy band of Tuam supporters may have sang that ‘The Hogan belongs to St Jarlath’s’, on this evidence their team have a long way to go before permitting themselves any such lofty notions.
The Mayo contingent were all solid if not spectacular; Caoimhín Carty doing little wrong at corner-back, Colm Monahan mixing the good with the mediocre at six, and Cathal Freeman drifting in and out of the match to kick two good points.
The players that did most to inspire St Jarlath’s though were Michael Martin and Danny Cummins, two forwards that knew how – and when – to put away chances. And it was that opportunism that ultimately broke the spirit of the St Muredach’s teenagers.
Alex Corduff kicked the Mayo representatives into the lead after just two minutes but St Jarlath’s quickly set about establishing their authority. Despite some excellent defending from Ultan Crowe and Kevin McLoughlin, St Muredach’s started to take in water and by the 16th minute were 0-5 to 0-1 down.
Michael Martin (2), Danny Cummins, Tomas Fahy and Aidan Burke kicked the scores as Jarlath’s threatened to cut loose. Instead, with Crowe, McLoughlin and Patrick O’Grady all leading by example, St Muredach’s came roaring back into the match.
Ronan Doherty landed a free into the wind before Alan Loftus placed Patrick Crowe for a well-taken goal that levelled the game in the 27th minute. It was no more than the gallant Ballina boys deserved.
The celebrations were short-lived though as a lightning-quick counter-attack saw Cathal Freeman’s goalbound shot only parried by Matthew Wyse and Danny Cummins was following up to side-foot the ball to the Muredach’s net.
The towering Michael Martin swung over a free moments later before fate conspired horribly against the North Mayo school in the 32nd minute. Martin was again a central figure as his shot for a point came back off the post and Danny Cummins had the simplest of tasks to tap the rebound home.
St Muredach’s problems were compounded when Aghamore’s Cathal Freeman cracked over a point just before the half-time whistle to send St Jarlath’s in ahead by 2-7 to 1-2.
The concession of 2-2 in the space of five minutes was effectively the beginning of the end for St Muredach’s. It was also a harsh lesson in the art of finishing as practised by the past masters.
To their credit the Ballina boys never let their heads drop and Alan Loftus posted an early score after the restart to keep the game alive.
The St Jarlath’s response arrived swiftly as sub’ Alan Feerick and the stylish Michael Martin nailed points to ease their team into a nine point lead.
There were 21 minutes left when St Muredach’s manufactured their last decisive move of the match; Alan Loftus and Ronan Doherty combining to place Lorcan Healy for their team’s only goal. It was 2-9 to 2-3 and we wondered if we had all spoken too soon.
St Jarlath’s gave us our answer in the final quarter, outscoring their beleaguered opponents by seven points to one from there to the final whistle.
St Muredach’s were unable to make any meaningful inroads in the closing stages and turn-overs cost them dearly. The incessant pressure from the winners also began to tell as Alan Feerick popped over a couple of frees and Thomas Fahy, Cathal Freeman, Shane Kavanagh, Danny Cummins and Michael Martin all tacked on points.
St Muredach’s fought to the bitter end but the tireless work of Ultan Crowe, Kevin McLoughlin, Alan Loftus and Lorcan Healy was not enough against a better-balanced and economical St Jarlath’s.

ST JARLATH’S
P Curley; E Mullarkey, C Forde, C Carty; S Boyle, C Monahan, J Burke; A Concannon, C Doherty; M Martin (0-5, 1f), T Fahy (0-2), C Freeman (0-2); D Cummins (2-2), B Moran, A Burke (0-1). Subs used: E Higgins for Curley (inj); A Feerick (0-3, 2fs) for Burke (inj); S Kavanagh (0-1) for Concannon.
ST MUREDACH’S
M Wyse; D Durcan, P O’Grady, U Crowe; C Mullarkey, K McLoughlin, D O’Hara; J Ruddy, D Walsh; A Loftus (0-1), A Corduff (0-1), R Doherty (0-1, 1f); C Walsh, L Healy (1-1, 1f), P Crowe (1-0). Subs used: R Barrett for Corduff.
Referee: P Carney (Roscommon)

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