When we played with Corofin or Galway back in the 1990s, we would point out at team meetings that to win a championship game, a team needed nine or 10 players to beat their direct opponent in their individual duels. If that happened, you generally won the game.
Of course, if one of your teammates really went to town on the other team’s defence and had the proverbial blinder, then that totally changed the dynamics of the game. Of course, such a scenario could happen to your team too, and an opposition forward could have a superb display and then all bets were off.
Last Saturday in Pearse Stadium, Eoin Concannon, the St James' full-forward, had one of those days. The former Galway panelist was on fire and hit 1-10 (0-2 frees ) of his team’s tally in a magnificent display.
In the end the city side won the game by five points, 2-18 to Carraroe’s 2-13, but at one stage in the first half, such a result looked highly unlikely.
Carraroe led by 7 points
The Connemara men led by seven points after 20 minutes and looked to be in control.
However the Jimmies, powered by Concannon with some super scores and the impressive Aaron Connolly from midfield, roared back into the contest to turn the game on its head and led by six at the small whistle.
Carraroe centre-forward Oisín Ó Gríofa really caught the eye early on, and his side led by 1-06 to 0-2 after the first quarter with an Ó Gríofa goal, and Cillín de Paor and Liam Ó Flatharta also getting on the scoreboard.
Ciarán Ó Fátharta’s charges had played well against Corofin for long periods in their last championship game too, and they looked the more likely victors at that early stage.
However, Concannon had other ideas and he notched a few good points before scoring a crucial goal that gave his side real belief.
Wingbacks Tommy Walsh and team captain Alan Deacy also took the fight to the opposition and their regular sallies were big factors in St James’ getting back to the county quarter-finals.
The Renmore men got a real fillip in first half injury time when wing-forward Lee Vahey was the first to react and was on hand to raise a second green flag following a rebound from a Diarmuid MacDonncha save.
They led by 2-11 to 1-8 at half-time, which was a super turnaround, and showed a lot of character and belief for a team forced to line out without the injured Paul Conroy, Johnny Duane and Owen Teagle.
Fintan Cooney, who featured strongly on the Underdogs TV show last week on TG4, is also a key player for the team, and he was also ruled out with a shoulder injury from the start and was only able to come on as a sub in the second half.
Concannon hit 1-09 in first half
Eoin Concannon’s first half tally was 1-9, with 1-8 of that arriving from a super display of forward play that was badly needed by his side.
Carraroe battled hard for the entire second half, but scores from Tommy Walsh and a Concannon free kept the scoreboard ticking over for the victors.
There was plenty of drama in the game, including a late saved penalty by David Curran in the St James’ goal from Oisín Ó Gríofa, and St James’ emerged as deserving winners on the day.
Their management team of Gay O’Brien and his selectors Alan O’Donnell, John Egan and Pete Mulroony will know the standard will rise considerably the next day out as they face county champions Corofin to decide who emerges as group one winners.
The losers last Saturday will take on Claregalway in the final round of the group series to decide who finishes third and avoids getting sucked into a relegation battle.
St James: D Curran (0-1, free ); C O’Regan, P Healy, R Kavanagh; A Deacy, C Walsh, T Walsh (0-2 ); A Connolly (0-3 ), R Wynne; M Elwood, D. O’Connell, L Vahey (1-1 ); R Doherty, E Concannon (1-10, 0-2 frees ), R O’Connell (0-1, free ). Subs: E Boyce for Doherty, F Cooney for Wynne, R Carroll for D O’Connell.
Carraroe: D MacDonncha; D Seoighe, I Ó Conchubhair, S Ó Tiarnaigh; SE Ó Flatharta, C Ó Domhnaill, F Ó Sé; C Ó Sé, M. O’Briain; L Ó Flatharta (0-1 ), O Ó Gríofa (1-8, 0-5 frees ), S Ó Loideáin; C de Paor (0-1 ), N Ó Briain (0-1 ), S Ó Briain. Subs: J Ó Gaoithín, for Ó Tiarnaigh, M Ó Domhanill (1-1 ), for Ó Flatharta, P Ó Loideáin for C Ó Sé, Ciarán Cassidy MacDonnacha (0-1 ) for Seoighe.