Tir Chonaill Gaels went into battle with old rivals St Kiernans on a lovely Sunday afternoon at the new McGovern Park in Ruislip. In what was a repeat of last year’s championship decider, it was the current champions St Kiernans that came out of the starting blocks the brightest to register the first score of the game after 2 minutes. They would tag on 2 further scores before the Gaels found their rhythm and pointed their first real scoring chance thanks to the boot of full forward Ryan Elliott to leave the score 0-3 to 0-1 after 10 minutes.
Then came the first goal which saw the game spring into life. St Kiernans talisman Adrian Moyles kicked a free from 25 yards out which rebounded high off the upright to land in the small square, but unfortunately for the Gaels defence it was the Kiernans full forward line who pounced quickest to palm the ball into the net and register the maximum. This goal saw 5 points between the sides midway through the first half and left the Gaels with it all to do.
This appeared to be the catalyst that the Gaels needed however, and a surging run through the middle of the pitch from captain Liam Gavaghan saw him send the ball over the bar after good link up play with Ryan Elliott. This was followed by a wonderful score via the left peg of Ryan Elliott from way out on the right hand touch line when there appeared to be little else on.
Kiernans managed to respond themselves thanks to a free and a point from their midfielder James Moran, who frustratingly blazed over the bar when he had been put clean through on goal. The 2 teams once again traded frees before TCG got their first goal of the game with their final play right on the stroke of half time. Killian Butler was the beneficiary of some great pressure and work rate from the Gaels who turned the ball over just inside the Kiernans half and when Marc Gottsche laid it off to the on-running Butler, he finished low into the bottom corner past the keeper.
This left the minimum between thesides at the half time interval – TCG 1-05 St Kiernans 1-06.
The second period started in a similar vein to the first, with Kiernans registering the opening score of the half after 2 minutes thanks to a free from Adrian Moyles when situated right out on the 21 yard line. Ryan Elliott once again got the Gaels first score of the half but had his team mates to thank for doing the hard work of moving the ball up the field at pace for him to tap over.
Then came another 2 pointed frees from the boot of Adrian Moyles, as the Gaels ill-discipline in defence was continually being punished by St Kiernans. However, luckily in Killian Butler and Ryan Elliot, the Gaels had 2 go to men to help get them out of jail. Firstly, Butler responded with a lovely score from a tight angle when under pressure. Next, Elliott pointed following a turnover ball from a poor Kiernan’s kick out which meant the difference between the teams was back to the minimum once more at the mid-way point of the second half.
Cathal Og Greene was next to register a score for the Kiernans, as the midfielder found himself in space on the edge of the Gaels’ D. This saw the Gaels introduce Adrian Hanlon off the bench as they looked to claw back the 2 point deficit with 10 minutes remaining. The decision looked to be a good one 5 minutes later, when Hanlon’s cross field ball was met by Butler in the small square. The London born forward powerfully dismissed the attention of the 2 Kiernans defenders on his shoulder to dispatch the ball into the back of the net and send the Gaels into the lead for the first time in the match.
All the pressure was then on Kiernans, who found themselves in an unfamiliar position as they chased the game for the first time as the clock ticked towards the final 5 minutes.Tempers began to fray, and the unforgiving Matty Maher was taking no prisoners as he gave TCG’s Gary McGee his marching orders courtesy of a 2ndyellow. This meant the Gaels had to see out the remainder of the match with 14 men, but they withstood intense pressure to turn the ball over and deliver it into Hanlon situated inside the 21 yard line, who was fouled by his man following a great turn. Liam Gavaghan stepped up to direct the resulting free over the bar in what was the final play of the game as the Gaels ran out 2 point winners on a score line of 2-09 to 1-10.
Best on the day for the Gaels: Ryan Elliott & Killian Butler
Best on the day for Kiernans: Adrian Moyles
Yet another county final awaits for the Gaels as they meet Fulham Irish in the decider at McGovern Park in 2 weeks’ time – Sunday 22nd October @ 2.30pm