Gort 0-19 Pádraig Pearses 3-6 (15)
By Darren Kelly, Connacht Tribune
This wasn’t the type of swash-buckling display they un-leashed on Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry seven days earlier, but Gort found a way on Monday evening to book their spot in the senior hurling championship preliminary quarter-finals.
This was a battle that tested their credentials even if it also provided a reality check. Gort achieved their target, but Matt Murphy and his team know they still have plenty to work on.
The same can be said for Padraig Pearses. They put it up to their opponents and struck three goals, but their inability to add points on offer denied them a massive result.
Gort were also guilty of sev-eral poor misses. Striking 1-29 like the opening day appeared unlikely as the summer air left for autumn climates during the weekend. But the south Galway side are aware that 19 points won’t win most games.
They opened the scoring through an Aiden Helebert free but by the third minute, it was evident that they were facing different opponents.
Conor Fahey was granted space on the left and sent the ball towards the square. Tomas Flannery had to hold off tight marking after gaining possession, but was allowed to swing and hit the net for Padraig Pearses’ opening goal.
That score grabbed the atten-tion of supporters in Ballinasloe and Pearses nearly got through again on nine minutes as Emmet Ward combined with Tomas and Oisin Flannery. Gort’s defence, who were rea-sonably reliant despite being caught badly on occasions, held firm.
Jack Grealish tallied before-hand and on 11 minutes, Hele-bert’s second placed ball lev-elled before Aidan Harte took Mike Mullins’ pass to make it 0-4 to 1-0 for Gort before the water break.
Gort’s quick movement and awareness was starting to tell but they were also racking up wides (four at this stage). However, they were building from defence every time they broke down a Pearses attack and gradually pulled away.
Darren O’Donoghue and Jason Grealish set up Richie Cummins for the fifth white flag on 18 minutes before Grealish himself split the posts 60 sec-onds later thanks to Keelan Hig-gins’ spadework.
Helebert got his first from play on 24 minutes and when he tapped over a free following a foul on Cummins two minutes later, Gort led by 0-8 to 1-0.
This game wasn’t without friction, tension and some off the ball incidents. Indeed, ref-eree Liam Gordon had to hand out six yellow cards in the first half.
Harte dominated in spells for Gort assisting the defence as well as supplying the other end, and he nearly put Albert Mullins through on 23 minutes after intercepting a Pádraig Pearses attack.
Gort could have been out of sight on 29 minutes after Cum-mins was taken down following a Jack Grealish run. Greg Lally stepped up for the penalty but sliced the ball wide. When Emmet Ward converted a free on 34 minutes, Padraig Pearses trailed by just 0-8 to 1-1 at half-time.
Pádraig Pearses were major underdogs but within three minutes of the restart, a shock looked on the cards. Firstly on 32 minutes, keeper Fergal Flannery stepped up to take a long range free designed for the posts or his comrades in the inside line.
Flannery drove the ball to-wards the small square but with Gort backs watching Pearses forwards, the ball bounced into the net. And 60 seconds later, a Flannery special started with another Fergal delivery for Tomas, and he squared the ball across to Oisin allowing the lat-ter to rattle the net.
Pádraig Pearses were suddenly 3-1 to 0-8 ahead and thoughts of topping Group 1 in the Senior B section looked realistic even after a Helebert free reduced arrears within two minutes. Gort couldn’t manage a green flag themselves as Dar-ren O’Donoghue was denied by a superb Fergal Flannery save on 36 minutes.
But Gavin Lally pushed for-ward to level for Gort before Helebert’s free made it 0-11 to 3-1 on 38 minutes. Ward restored parity but Cummins put Gort back in front. Fahey received Tomas Flannery’s sideline cut on 43 minutes for Pearses to make it 3-3 to 0-12.
The next six minutes was probably the turning point. Gort hit three on the spin through Helebert (2) and Pakie Lally while in response, Padraig Pearses only registered three wides. After the water break, Harte and substitute Gerard O’Donoghue made it 0-17 to 3-4, with Ward getting one in return.
Two frees from Tomas and Fergal Flannery respectively re-duced arrears, but Gort found a way to get the job done. Harte set up Jason Grealish for their 18th point before Greg Lally pointed from distance on 65 minutes to seal the deal.
Promotion is not secured yet for Gort and defeat to an Athenry outfit desperately chasing a result following two draws will leave them stuck in Senior B. Gavin Lally, Jason O’Donoghue, Pakie and Greg
Lally, Jack Grealish, Cummins, Harte and Helebert did best.
The goals might have kept them involved but Pearses will need a better shooting return against Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry to avoid the relegation play-offs. Fergal Flannery was excellent in goal with Tomas Kenny, Adrian Bellew, Colm Raftery, Lally and Tomas Flannery also doing well.
Pádraig Pearses: F Flannery (1-1, both frees); T Kenny, M Hennelly, R Lally; A Bellew, D Wynne, C Raftery; J Barrett, G Lally; J Gelston, E Ward (0-3, all frees), C Fahey (0-1); D Reilly, T Flannery (1-1, one free), O Flannery (1-0). Subs: R Bellew for Gelston (26 mins), E Cunniffe for Ward (51 mins), C Ward for A Bellew (51 mins), Gelston for Reilly (56 mins).
Gort: K Finnegan; S Og Linnane, Gavin Lally (0-1), J O’Donoghue; P Lally (0-1), Greg Lally (0-1, free), Jack Grealish (0-1); A Harte (0-2), D O’Donoghue; M Mullins, Jason Grealish (0-2), K Higgins; R Cummins (0-2), A Helebert (0-8, seven frees), A Mullins. Subs: E Cooley for Gavin Lally (39 mins), J Linnane for D O’Donoghue (39 mins), G O’Donoghue (0-1) for Mullins (39 mins), E Killeen for Higgins (53 mins).
Referee: L Gordon.