Apologies to you the reader, for the delay on this week’s report. Due to a waterlogged pitch, last Sunday’s original fixture between Western Shamrocks and Morley Gaels was cancelled the morning of the game. The wise ole men of the GAAWA deemed the ground ‘unplayable’, after we endured very heavy rainfall through the night and into Sunday morning. (yes, it does rain here)
A couple of disgruntled subscribers let it be known to the administrators that there usual Monday evening routine of: shower-spuds-tae-report had been disrupted and thus, didn’t know what to do with themselves.
Apparently Richie Nevin swam to Adelaide and ran back, Brian Dempsey went to watch the train’s go by at Stirling station whilst Jason Gavy visited the large cats enclosure at Perth zoo, so rumour has it anyway.
The game was refixed for Wednesday night, with a 7pm throw-in. It was a cool, calm night. The towering floodlights illuminated the Tom Bateman surface, waterlogged three days previous-but now bone dry. Wind? There was no wind, it really was thee perfect football conditions.
The Shamrock’s side were rocked with three devastating omissions in the lead up to the game. Meath star Alan Douglas, arguably Shamrock’s player of the year to date, had to return home indefinitely due to the expiration of his visa. Athy man Danny O Keefe, after only completing his two game suspension, similarly had to return home and Armagh midfielder Danny McKavanagh, could only make the bench after being diagnosed with osteitis pubis following his last outing-ten days ago.
Not for the first time this season, Manager Ray Reilly perfomed a re-jig of the Sham’s forward department, following the aforementioned losses.
Kerry newcomer Johnny Daughton had his patience rewarded, when he was given the nod at wing forward. Whilst the impressive Mark Finnegan, moved back on to the ‘forty’ instead of Douglas, with Adrian Byrne (Crettyard) switching back into the full forward line.
Both sides came into the fixture high in confidence, having both won their last two games. For Shamrock’s, a win would mean a return to the summit of the table, whilst a rejuvenated Morley win would take them back into contention, following a slow start to this years competition. Whatever the outcome, you had the feeling it was going to be a close one.
The game unsurprisingly started at a frantic pace. Both goalkeepers were selecting short kickouts from the outset, meaning you couldn’t blink without missing something. Morley struck the opening score after seven minutes, but after Brian Dempsey opened his and Shamrock’s account two minutes later, the boys in green took over. Chris Hayes got rewarded for his lively start to the game, when his angled shot crept inside the left hand post to put the Sham’s in front. Dempsey stretched the lead, after he was nicely picked out by Laois county colleague Adrian Byrne and a minute later, the St. Joseph’s sharpshooter converted a free that he himself had won, from twenty meters out on the left hand side of the Morley goal.
Unfortunately, that was to be their final score of the half, as Ray Reilly’s men allowed Morley back into it in the remaining ten minutes. Shamrock’s became wasteful in possession, in particular from the halfway line onwards and Morley took advantage, with two converted free’s, to leave just one between them after half an hour played.
HT WESTERN SHAMROCKS 0-04
MORLEY GAELS 0-03
Morley picked up were they left off in the first half, racing two points clear after just five minutes. The 2013 league champions had eliminated Pat White’s short kickout’s, forcing the Cork man to go long. Morley as a result, took control in the middle of the field. Their giant midfield pairing were winning clean ball and Shamrock’s were second to the breakdown.
Dempsey pulled one back, a lovely right footed effort into the Nicholson Road end, following an excellent Philly Doyle turnover in defence.
Doyle was involved again, when his miss-hit ‘45 found Dempsey, who was hauled down in front of the referee. The Ballyadam’s man dusted himself down to send over his fifth point of the night.
Shamrock’s lost their talismanic full back Jason Brosnan to a black card with a quarter of the game to go. A failed pick-up attempt in the middle of the park was pounced on by Morley and with the full forward running straight through on goal, lillywhite Brosnan had no choice but to pull him down. The Gaels converted the resulting free, to hit the front again, but Shams supporters couldn’t help but feel that the outcome could have been a lot worse but for Brosnan’s intervention.
That man Dempsey kicked another free, from an almost identical position as the last, before Morley kept the end-to-end nature of the game going with another point, with ten minutes left on the clock.
St. Lawrence’s Mark Finnegan turned provider for Dempsey, sending a beautifully weighted ball into the on-fire Laois man to turn and bisect the posts, this time on the left foot, from thirty meters out.
There’s a bit of a running joke going on at the minute as to what actually is Brian Dempsey’s stronger foot? When asked the same question during a recent training session by Manager Ray ‘Bish’ Reilly, the corner forward simply shrugged his shoulders and said “I dunno”. Like the mystery of flight MH370, I feel like we may never know. Not that anyone associated with the club really care’s, especially when he’s in the type of mood like he was last night.
Another free by “you know who” regained the lead for Shamrock’s, albeit only for a minute, as Morley tied the game for the sixth time, with jus three minutes remaining.
Dempsey had a great goal chance to seal it, but the opportunity was missed as the ball slipped from his hands and the subsequent point attempt from Adrian Byrne, agonisingly came back off the woodwork.
Fortunately for Shamrock’s that miss didn’t matter, as the outstanding Dempsey held his nerve to curl over a ‘45 for his ninth point of the hour. Morley had a chance to level, but the Sham’s defence held strong to smother the man and win the free out-much to the jubilation of the Green and white dugout.
As Finnegan ran up the field with the ball, the Referee blew the final whistle, to restore Shamrock’s to the top of the league with four games to play.
Philly Doyle had a remarkable game at wing back. The ‘evergreen’ Clane man caused all sorts of problems for the Morley defence with his frequent invasions, but didn’t neglect his defensive duties, getting the better of the exchanges with his Morley opponent. Chris Hayes took the game to Morley in the first half, whilst Fearghal McLoughlin worked himself into the ground at wing forward. The full back line were solid apart from the Brosnan black card, but Brian Dempsey’s tally of nine out of ten points was the difference. A total of 1-23 for the St. Joseph’s man in round two makes him the most potent attacker in the competition.
A two week break follows this game, as Shamrock’s will look to regather the troops for an all-out assault on the final round of games, beginning with a mouth watering tie against St. Finbarr’s, under lights in a fortnights time.
FT WESTERN SHAMROCKS 0-10
MORLEY GAELS 0-9
Special mention to Shamette’s Claire Cardiff and Nadine Minnock, who are the only two I refer to when I say “Shamrock’s supporters”. Fair play for facing the cold girls-your support is much appreciated!
Stay tuned for more ‘TEAMATES’ interviews over the coming break on the Western Shamrocks App!