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St Gall’s joy after All Ireland win

St Gall’s 0-13 Kilmurry-Ibrickane 1-05

By Micheal McGeary

Croke Park was awash in a sea of blue and white as St Gall’s were crowned All Ireland club football champions for the first time.

All the massive disappointments and regrets from losing the 2006 All Ireland decider were totally erased and four years on they made sure there would be no inquests or post mortems, just one big celebration.

It was a sweet moment for manager Lenny Harbinson in his first season at the helm, transforming the side with potential into the real deal.

Typically he was happy to remain in the background at the finish, content with a job well done. The timing of this victory was perfect, lifting the Andy Merrigan Cup in the club’s centenary year and setting in motion celebrations that will last long into the weekend.

The match itself, though, was something of a disappointment and that’s no reflection on the newly crowned Antrim, Ulster and All Ireland champions as for long periods this game was something of a mismatch.

Just how the losers managed to be only five points adrift at the finish will remain a major mystery for the reality is that there was a huge gulf in quality between the sides.

It was a classic case of the losers flattering to deceive. Two minutes into the match with St Gall’s leading by a point their opponents strung together a decisive attacking move for Stephen Moloney to shoot to the net, but they then went 20 minutes without scoring.

No sooner that Kevin McGourty’s opening point cut the deficit before younger brother CJ converted a 45 and then up stepped midfielder Aodhan Gallagher with a point to make it all square.

It was fast becoming a story of constant St Gall’s pressure and it almost paid off when CJ McGourty’s goal-bound effort was brilliantly saved by the keeper, but that was only a temporary respite for the losers as Anton Healy and Kevin McGourty piled on the agony with points apiece.

A John Donlon point for the Munster champions four minutes before half-time was very small consolation as St Gall’s, with the interval in sight, stepped up a gear with further points from Terry O’Neill and Kevin McGourty leaving them four points to the good at the break.

Lenny Harbinson’s men came out bouncing for the second half like a boxer hell bent on an early finish. Kevin Niblock, CJ McGourty and Sean Burke all added points without reply to ease into a seven-point lead.

Such was their domination that CJ McGourty could even squander a goal opportunity, but it scarcely mattered, Rory Gallagher landing a point minutes later.

Then with the game reaching the inevitable conclusion manager Lenny Harbinson introduced a number of new faces allowing their opponents in for points from Ian McInerney and Stephen Moloney (2) before Kevin Niblock kicked the game’s final point in added time.

ST GALL'S: Ronan Gallagher, P Veronica, A McClean, C Brady, M Kelly, A Healy (0-1), S Kelly, S Burke (0-1), A Gallagher (0-1), T O'Neill (0-1), Rory Gallagher (0-1), Kevin McGourty (0-2), Conor McGourty (0-3, 1 45, 1f), K Niblock (0-2), Kieran McGourty (0-1).

SUBS - K Stewart for O'Neill 46mins, S Burns for Burke 55mins, S Kennedy for Veronica 60mins.

KILMURRY-IBRICKANE: D O'Brien, D Hickey, M Killeen, M McMahon, S Hickey, E Coughlan, D Callinan, P O'Connor, P O'Dwyer, M Hogan, I McInerney (0-1), S Moloney (1-2), M O'Dwyer (0-1), J Daly (0-1, f), N Downes.

SUBS - E Talty for Hogan 12mins, O O'Dwyer for Talty 32mins, M McCarthy for O'Connor 42mins, B Moloney for Killeen 54mins, P O'Dwyer for Downes 53mins.

Referee: D Fahy (Longford)

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