Thirteen-point haul from Carmody fires Na Gaeil to intermediate decider


Na Gaeil 1-19

Castleisland Desmonds 0-11

It didn’t quite start with a bang, nevertheless it ended with somewhat of a whimper as what was shaping up to be an entertainingly competitive fixture in Austin Stack Park petered out tamely by the end with Na Gaeil victorious by eleven points.

For much of the opening exchanges the notion that one team would run out such comfortable winners would seem fanciful with defences looking very much on top in a cagey, if engaging, encounter.

Early on it even looked as though Castleisland Desmonds might have been marginally the better side and they did open out a two-point lead by the first water break – 0-4 to 0-2. 

Na Gaeil, though, seemed to have the ability to turn it on as and when required. A sign of a good team, albeit a quality that ends up with them making life a little more difficult for themselves than is strictly necessary at times.

Having gone three points down early in the second quarter, Jerome Stack’s men really thundered into the game for the rest of the half. The axis of Dan Goggin at centre-forward and Darragh Carmody in the inside line proved  invaluable to the green and white as they linked up wonderfully and consistently for the Killeen outfit.

Three on the spin from the hugely impressive Carmody levelled it up and, while Desmonds went back in front with a point by Seán Lynch, the cracks were beginning to show somewhat for the Castleisland men.

A further point by Carmody levelled it up and Diarmuid O’Connor – quiet by his high standards up to them – fired his men clear on the stroke of the half hour having claimed a Steve Bartlett kick-out. 

For the Desmonds to go in at the break behind – albeit by the minimum 0-7 to 0-6 – having looked so impressive early on, with guys like Brian Leonard and Luka Brosnan standing out, probably stung and they certainly started the second half well with a pair of points from Thomas Hickey (one a free) to retake the initiative. 

Still there was a sense that Na Gaeil were just biding their time. True it was worrying when they kicked three early wides in the half – one from a free and one from a mark – but the fact was they were creating chances, and again they showed that ability to play really well in patches and by doing so assumed near total control over the game.

In the space of less than two minutes Na Gaeil retook the lead once more with a trio of points by Carmody – who bagged thirteen in all, seven from play, by the end – to go 0-10 to 0-8 clear by 40 minutes. A point by Goggin on 41 was the least he deserved for his efforts and, while Desmonds staunched the bleeding somewhat with a pointed free from Bartlett, Na Gaeil’s blood was very much up.

A goal from Diarmuid O’Connor – now very much coming into his own – fired Na Gaeil six clear by the second water break, 1-12 to 0-9, and from there it was very much game over for the Desmonds.

Tommy Horan’s men desperately needed to recover their goal-scoring touch from a week ago and, while they had a couple of outside chances including one from Luke Lyons, they never looked all that likely to find the back of Devon Burns’ net.

Instead Na Gaeil pushed on showing a real ruthless streak. A pair of points from James O’Connor on 52 and 58 proved that they weren’t wholly reliant on Carmody for scores. 

The result is bound to be hugely disappointing for Desmonds, all the more so after the high of six days previous against An Ghaeltacht. The reality is, however, that they never truly got going in the game to the same extent as they did on home soil.

A lot of that, obviously, is down to the opposition. Na Gaeil are a very fine side and having been at this stage of the competition last year (played this year) they were in no mood to let another final appearance go abegging.

When they got their dander up it was really impressive stuff from Stack’s men. Still the impression one gets is that there was still some more left in the tank, particularly if Jack Barry and Diarmuid O’Connor can really hit their straps. Just the sort of place you’d want to be before a county final.

Oh and they’ll probably and hopefully have Stefan Okunbor back for that game against either Beaufort or Rathmore too, after he was a late withdrawal from this game.

All in a all not a bad position to be in. Not a bad position at all.

CASTLEISLAND DESMONDS: Steve Bartlett (0-1f), Tadgh O’Connell, Gearóid Leonard, Luka Brosnan (0-1), Brian Leonard, Tadhg O’Shea (0-1), Maurice Hickey, Adam Donoghue, Adam O’Donoghue (0-1), Tomás Lynch, Luke Lyons, Seán Lynch (0-1), Micheál Walsh, Cian W O’Connor (0-1f), Thomas Hickey (0-3, 1f) Subs: Dominick Finnegan (0-1) for T O’Shea, 43, PJ Curtin (0-1) for S Lynch, 43, Conor O’Sullivan for M Walsh, 43, Kieran Brennan for A O’Donoghue 52, Graham O’Connor for  C O’Sullivan, 60

NA GAEIL: Devon Burns, Enda O’Connor, Niall O’Mahony (0-1), Damien Burke, Fergal Barry, Andrew Barry, Eoin Doody, Jack Barry, Diarmuid O’Connor (1-1), Kieran O’Donovan, Dan Goggin (0-1), James O’Connor (0-2), Tomás Ó hÁiniféin, Jamie Lowhan, Darragh Carmody (0-13, 6f) Subs: Jack Sheehan for J Lowham 13, Jack Bourke (0-1f) for K O’Donovan, 47, Ruairí O’Sullivan for T Ó hÁiniféin, 53, Eoin Walsh for D Goggin, 58, Cian Devine for D Carmody, 58

REFEREE: Pádraig O’Sullivan (Firies)

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