A beautiful sunshiny afternoon in Salthill saw Pearses & Salthill/ Knocknacarra square up to each other in Round 2 of Group 2 of the Justin Cheevers Féile Competition. This game was balanced on a knife-edge for the 1st half but ultimately decided by a quick scoring spree at the start of the 2nd half and some super goalkeeping by young Tommy Nutley.
Pearses spurned some early chances. Conor Walsh saw his goal chance go across the face of goal while James Queeney’s effort dropped short. It took 7 mins before a flag was registered, a free from Jonah Donnellan after he was fouled himself. The hosts then hit a purple patch scoring 4 points on the trot – 3 frees and No. 11 scored from play. David Walsh worked hard to win a free, duly converted by Donnellan while No. 11 extended the lead to 3 again when Salthill capitalised on a poor Pearses clearance to fire over unmarked from play. Straight from the puck out, Donnellan won the ball in the ruck, worked his way into a more scoreable position and his effort landed on the roof of the net, just with the legs to carry over. Davy Walsh then pointed after he won the puck out and linked up nicely with Conor Walsh to accept the return pass & fire over. Salthill’s No. 15 tacked on 2 more frees but Donnellan clawed the lead back with another free before half time – the free earned by Conor Hillary. Pearses 0-5; Salthill/ Knocknacarra 0-7 Half time.
Whatever was said at half time put fire in the Pearses lads as they restarted with great impetus and had a 10minute dominant spell. Jonah Donnellan gathered the ball from the throw-in and his speculative shot from distance evaded everyone and bounced into the net. Kyle McDonagh, the smallest lad on the field, won a free in the back taken by Diarmuid Ryan who showed great vision to spot Davy Walsh and he fired over before 90 seconds had ticked on the clock. Then No. 19 rounded Diarmuid Ryan for the first time all day but Tommy Nutley made a point blank save. A shemozzle on the end line resulted in a throw-in which was won by David Walsh again and his effort was deflected over the crossbar by the Salthill goalie. The resultant puck out was gathered by young Sean Kelly who showed no hesitation before pointing from play. Davy Walsh added to Pearses tally from play while Conor Hillary worked hard to win a free converted by Donnellan. Suddenly a 2 point half time deficit was turned into a 6 point advantage within 8mins of the restart as Pearses had raced ahead 1-10 to 0-7 and they never really looked like being pegged back after that.
Pearses had a powering defensive performance with Kyle Mac, Fionn Donohue, Daniel Lydon, Cathal Hynes, Diarmuid Ryan & James Queeney excellent in their protection of Tommy Nutleys goal. Another key incident defined the game on 10mins as Nutley got his hurl to a 65’ sent in by Salthill and while their poacher pulled on the rebound, Donnellan was perfectly positioned to whip away the impending danger in front of goal assisted by the powerful Ryan. Donnellan tacked on 2 more frees won by young Sean Kelly & Conor Walsh respectively. Salthill did claw a goal back with 5 mins to play as No. 12 ran through Pearses rearguard, passed to No. 19 and Nutley again made yet another point blank save but couldn’t keep out the ground stroke rebound. Tommy fired the hurl on the ground in disgust, such was the fine game he was having. Pearses did not look unsettled though as Donnellan was relentless in knocking over his 7th free of the evening and added another from play which was deflected over the crossbar by the keeper. Pearses had 1 last chance to raise a green flag as a high lobbing ball was sent into the square by Davy Walsh, batted out by the goalie & Darren Moran pulled on the rebound which he too saw saved on the goal line. That saw the end of play as Pearses bossed all the exchanges in the second half to run out convincing winners on a scoreline: Pearses 1-14; Salthill/ Knocknacarra 1-8.
Scorers: Jonah Donnellan 1-9 (0-7F); David Walsh 0-4; Sean Kelly 0-1.
Panel: Tommy Nutley, Kyle McDonagh, Fionn Donohue, Daniel Lydon, James Queeney, Diarmuid Ryan, Cathal Hynes, Jonah Donnellan, Darren Moran, Sean Kelly, SDavid Walsh, Jack Kenny, Eoghan Ryan, Conor Walsh, Conor Hillary, James Feeney, Stephen Murphy, Luke Mitchell, Dylan Roche (Injured); Padraic Kelly (injured).