As if Shamrock’s needed reminding, two quick-fire points from reigning champions Morleyia, shot them into the lead inside five minutes. They were now rampant, dominating all over the field and the Sham’s looked a shell shocked outfit.
Manager Ray Reilly didn’t hang about, making a double substitution involving exciting young Down forward Conor McGee and aforementioned Meath cripple Ger McCullagh into the attack.
Chris Hayes, who has having an excellent game, went to midfield and together with Jonny Brady, they finally started to get the better of their opposite numbers.
A classy pass, from world fast talking champion Adrian Byrne, found Dempsey momentarily away from his man to point beautifully on the turn and Shamrock’s kicked into gear.
Dempsey again, put them back in front from another free in front of the posts, after Fearghal McLoughlin’s brave possession from a Pat White kickout. Now the boys in green went for the kill.
A sublimely measured pass from daytripper Mark Finnegan found Conor McGee in behind the defence and after turning on a sixpence, the talented teen was tripped in the large rectangle for a definite penalty. Before the Ref had even finished blowing his whistle for the peno, dead ball specialist Philly ‘Honeybadger’ Doyle had arrived at the spot with ball-in-hand, ready to take the kick.
Why do I call him the Honeybadger I hear you ask?
Because you NEVER corner a Honeybadger…that’s why.
The Morley keeper didn’t move an inch as cool as a cucumber Doyle, confidently dispatched the ball to the bottom right corner of the net. That kick all of a sudden left Shamrock’s four points up, with a quarter of an hour to go. Morley to their credit responded positively, reducing it by two, after another brace from that ace free taker.
Ger McCullagh, one of five Ratoath players on the Shamrock’s panel, justified Bishop’s gamble with a nicely timed point on the right foot and was involved again straight after, offloading to Darren ‘Chips’ Drummond who was hauled down for Dempsey to punish with what was his seventh and Shamrock’s last score of the game.
What followed was the most dramatic ending ever. Morley never giving up, reduced the lead to the minimum with five minutes still to play.
Hearts raced as Shamrock’s could not for the life of them get up the field for the clinching score.
They rode their luck as the once deadly Morley free taker, now began to wobble. He struck his first wide. Then he struck another. As Gav Donaghy says It was “squeaky bum time” and you could feel the suspense on the field.
The Shamrock’s boys stood up. Kevin Boyle getting a fist to the ball ahead of his man in defence, Chris Hayes fetching a massive ball from a kickout. Richie Nevin found another gear and drove up the field at every opportunity. They were working tirelessly and had the belief if nothing else they were going to do it.
Half-back Drummond near filled the cardiac unit at Royal Perth Hospital in one go, when he foolishly chose to go for goal instead of pointing AGAIN.
The shot was well saved by the excellent Morley Custodian and women and children were now crying as Morley menacingly advanced up the field with the ball.
A high ball into the box was fielded well by Nevin in the goalmouth, but the umpire had adjudged the Clane man to have carried the ball out over the end line and awarded a forty-five.
I’m not going to lie I was going mental as the Morley man shaped up to take the kick.
Situated just slightly left of Pat White’s goal and with a significant breeze at his back, he slowly advanced forward to the strike the ball. For what seemed like an eternity, the ball glided through the blue skies above.
The previously frantic scenes had now gone completely silent, as the Sham’s held their breadth. Incredibly, after kicking so well before, the ball drifted by the outside of the right-hand post, to the overwhelming relief of the Sham’s.
The Referee blew the full-time whistle. Shamrock’s are the 2014 Men’s Senior League Champions!
FT WESTERN SHAMROCKS 1-10
MORLEY GAELS 0-12
“Its on nights like this that league’s are won.” A classic GAA line that can be heard in towns and villages throughout the land at this time of year.
For Western Shamrock’s, looking back at the successful league campaign just witnessed, several moments automatically spring to mind that captivate the above quote.
Coming from seven points behind to come back and win by one against St. Finbarr’s in the very first game. That injury time equaliser against Greenwood one week later to salvage a draw in the dying moments. Brian Dempsey’s winning forty-five against Morley in round two. The outstanding midweek performance against the ’Barr’s four weeks ago, when the side was decimated with injuries and absentee’s.
Philly Doyle keeping his calm to bury the penalty on Sunday.
All moments that led to last Sunday’s success.
It has to be said that inconsistency threatened to undo any realistic charge for honours in the early part of the season. But after that disastrous day in the first game of round two, this group of players have been outstanding, winning seven games straight, to finish the league with nineteen points out of a possible twenty-four.
Enormous credit has to go to the Management team of Creeslough duo Ray ‘Bishop’ Reilly and Ciaran Duffy, not forgetting club Chairman Ciaran Gallagher of course.
They have navigated this side brilliantly through the rounds. Players have come and gone, injuries have been rife, but they always had a solution,always had a plan and have matured every bit as much as the Player’s have during the year.
Massive congratulations to everyone involved at the club.
Finally, a big thank you to the massive support we had at the game Sunday, without a doubt you made a difference! And to all the lovely messages, congratulations and well wishes from all over the world seen on social media over the past few days, thank you!
Adrian Byrne put it beautifully after the game:
“Its notification central sham!”
We now turn our attention to the championship, as no doubt preparations will be in full swing from now on for the Semi-final on Sunday week, as the Sham’s try to win a place in the final for the first time since 2012.
Thank you and goodnight!