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Garrymore find a little extra


NOTHING BETWEEN THEM Garrymore’s Jamie Hession and Westport’s Oisin McLaughlin  are pictured in action during Saturday evening’s Mayo SFL Division 1 quarter-final in Garrymore. Pic: Conor McKeown

Garrymore 0-15
Westport 1-11
(After Extra-Time)

Mike Finnerty

IT started with a bang and ended in a welter of excitement.
And in between, we were treated to a cracking match that went on for about 90 minutes before Garrymore players and management could finally celebrate after booking their place in the league semi-finals.
But not before they were put to the pin of their collar by a Westport team that were short around nine of their championship squad, but still ‘togged strong’ and will feel desperately unlucky not to have got a result.
A superbly-taken penalty from the outstanding Conal Dawson (who finished with 1-4) in the 59th minute had pushed the visitors into a two-points lead heading into additional time.
True to form though, Garry’ came roaring back with two huge scores from Brendan Walsh and Micheál Connolly (a high-pressure free) in the 65th and 66th minutes to send the tie to extra-time.
Westport had to play the additional twenty minutes without Mark Moran, who had picked up his second yellow card in the closing stages of normal time, and their depleted squad was spread just a little too thin as Garry’ upped the ante again.
Damien Egan’s charges looked to be very well-conditioned less than a month out from championship and, despite being without key defenders Kieran McGrath and Enda Hession, they did enough to engineer a morale-boosting victory.
The stylish Micheál Connolly potted two points (one free) in the first period of extra-time to give the homeside a little breathing space, and one inspirational effort from impact sub’ Brendan Walsh in the second minute of the second period proved to be the winner.
Garrymore’s scramble defence and overall structure (installed by new coach Kieran Fitzgerald) stood up to most stress-tests in extra-time with Westport only scoring twice, once from play; a fine effort from the tireless Conal Dawson.
A penalty shoot-out looked on the cards as the clock ticked down, but Westport just couldn’t manufacture an equaliser and Garry’ held out, with neither team scoring in the last nine minutes.
On a lovely evening for a match, it was obvious from an early stage that everyone was intent on getting the most out of this exercise.
This was especially true of the likes of Garrymore’s midfielder Gary Golden and their ‘new’ centre-forward Trevor Nally, who is moving as well as ever; along with Westport’s young centre-back Joe Grady, and the aforementioned Conal Dawson and Pat Lambert, who were a constant threat up front.
Garrymore have made a habit this season of hitting the ground running; a hat-trick of early points from Mark Gibbons (free), Trevor Nally and Cathal Slattery (free) propelled them into the lead after nine minutes.
It took Westport twenty minutes to get back on level terms and that’s how things were at half-time, all square at 0-5 apiece.
Garry’ had been 0-5 to 0-2 up at one stage, but a string of superb scores from Conal Dawson (2) and Oisin McLaughlin put Westport back on an equal footing.
Martin Connolly and Shane Conway actually saw their team shoot seven out of the eight points scored either side of half-time, as Garrymore seemed to lose their way for a while.
The Lambert brothers, Paul and Pat, both finished sweeping moves before Joe Grady and Conal Dawson did likewise. Westport’s pace was opening Garry’ up time and again.
The homeside were 0-6 to 0-9 down after 45 minutes and looked to be labouring.
But they were never going to fade away, and they finally got their engine running again to chisel out points from Aaron Hughes, Mark Gibbons and David Dolan to wipe out Westport’s lead.
Cathal Slattery then popped up to put the locals back in front on 54 minutes, after Trevor Nally had broken the line and delivered a perfect ‘assist’.
There was still plenty of time for more drama and it duly arrived when Oisin McLaughlin was bundled over in the square, and Conal Dawson swept the resultant penalty past Brian Lynskey.
Westport were now two points up and back in control, but Garrymore were in no mood to roll over and they made the most of six minutes of additional time to come back from the brink.
This test should stand to both teams when the serious business starts next month.

B Lynskey; C Commins, C Crowe, J Oates; J Hession, D Dolan (0-1), S Nally; K Lydon, G Golden (0-1); M Connolly (0-3, 2fs), T Nally (0-1), D Quinn (0-1, 1f); C Slattery (0-2, 1f), M Gibbons (0-3, 2fs), A Hughes (0-1).
Subs used: L Óg Horkan, P Hession, B Walsh (0-2).

G Keane; K McGuire, N McManamon, B McDermott; K Dever, J Grady (0-2, 1f), Paul Lambert (0-1); R Brickenden, S Scott; C Dawson (1-4, 1-0pen), M Moran, O McLaughlin (0-1); F McLaughlin, R Geraghty, Pat Lambert (0-3, 1f).
Subs used: R Walsh, B Doyle, C Grimes, D Brennan, A Browne.

Referee: J Glavey (Aghamore)

What's next?
THE Division 1 league semi-final between Garrymore and Castlebar Mitchels will be next Saturday evening in Munnelly Park at 7pm.



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