St James produce a Houdini act to defeat Caherlistrane

Séarlas ÓTiomáin of Bearna and Eamonn Brannigan St Michael's in action from the opening round of the Galway County Senion Football championship game at Moycullen on saturday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Séarlas ÓTiomáin of Bearna and Eamonn Brannigan St Michael's in action from the opening round of the Galway County Senion Football championship game at Moycullen on saturday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Drama is what we like in sport and plenty of drama is what the paying punters enjoyed on Sunday in Corofin when Terry O’Regan’s St James snatched victory from the jaws of defeat when beating Caherlistane by 3-9 to 1-14.

The Queally men have only themselves to blame, having led by 11 points at half time (1-12 to 0-4 ) and by nine points with 10 minutes of normal time to play.

They will ponder how they let such a lead slip, and both the players and their management team will feel culpable for the total systems failure in the last 10 minutes.

They seemed to drift back lethargically in the last quarter, lose their edge of the first half, and lost focus - and that fatal lack of composure is what opened the gateway of opportunity for the Jimmies, something on which they capitalised with gusto.

It was genuinely hard to fathom at the final whistle, after about five minutes of injury time, that St James had advanced to the next round as they did not score from play until almost 50 minutes.

O’Regan’s decision to push county midfielder Paul Conroy into full forward, be it by design or desperation, is what turned the tie on its head.

The business, maths and Irish teacher at Coláiste Iognáid scored his side’s first major - a stunning goal from a free off his hands which was a key factor in turning the game around.

That first green flag for St James rattled Caherlistrane and gave his team mates belief.

The reality is that Conroy was a real powerhouse for the last 10 minutes and Caherlistrane appeared powerless to stop his influence.

Conroy also helped set up two late goals which were well taken by Cathal Walsh and Eoin Concannon – two men who had fine performances - which drew James level, and then the Galway midfielder kicked a superb winner from distance to bury the knife of defeat into the North board men.

Caherlistrane had some good displays for the first 40 minutes from Oisín O’Brien, Donal Feeney, Ronan Conneely Shane O’Brien and Rory Glynn,who scored a terrific individual goal after slalomming through the city boys defence.

However, they only scored three points in the entire second half which was a key factor in their downfall.

St James will now face Michael Donnellan’s Maigh Cuilinn, who beat Kilconly easily, in the next round on the weekend after next, and they will know they cannot afford to leave things as late as they did last weekend if they want to progress directly to the quarter-finals.

Sathill beaten by Milltown

The city side will be disgusted to have lost this first round tie at Tuam Stadium on Saturday evening when they coughed up two soft goals to Milltown to lose by two points, 2-7 to 1-8. Milltown are a tough team to beat if the game becomes a dogfight, and in Darren Mullahy Cathal Blake and team captain Diarmuid Blake, they have some wily old campaigners who are never found wanting if commitment or cuteness are needed.

Milltown were 0-6 to 0-3 behind at half time, but goals from Keith Mannion and James Kavanagh were key scores in turning the game in their favour in the second period.

The Scans will face three-times county champions Corofin in the next round, and they will hope their high quality forward trio of Kavanagh, Michael Martin and Mark Hehir will be able to really impose themselves and make a much closer contest of the tie than it was when the sides last met in championship football.

Milltown have a new manager this season - Tom Mulderrig from Moy Davitts (Mayo ) - and no doubt he and his selectors will spend the next week or so hatching a plan to try to take down Kevin O’Brien’s men who were not tested at all by Carna Cailseal in their opening fixture.

Salthill-Knocknacarra will face Naomh Anná Leitir Móir in the losers' draw, and Val Daly, Tom Kelly and Seán Ó Dowd will be hopeful their team can produce a better display than they produced last weekend.

With forwards such as Gearoid and Sean Armstrong, Shane Maughan, Robert Finnerty and Gary Cox, they should have too much fire power for the Connemara men, who were well beaten by Carraroe last weekend.

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