Last Saturday evening Salthill/Knocknarra were expected to defeat a very limited St Brendan’s handily. Instead a shock of epic proportions was on the cards if the Ballygar men had a little more ability, poise, and self-belief.
Paul Wallace’s men got off to a flyer with an early goal by Martin Hanley, but they were quickly reined in by a much more fluid and superior city side who had scoring aces in Sean Armstrong and Seamie Crowe.
Armstrong was the best forward on the field and he scored six fine points, five of them coming from play. He is a very accurate shooter and being two-footed gives him an enormous advantage over many forwards.
Despite playing a huge game for his side, and easing them into the last four of the county championship, Sean got involved in a silly spat with referee Muiris MacGearailt for the last quarter of the game.
Indeed he was fortunate not to be shown a red card for persistent and over-the-top questioning of the official. A player of his quality should concentrate on the many positive sides of his game rather than losing his focus and going down an unproductive and energy-sapping road of yapping at referees.
To be fair to MacGearailt, the decision to give a free against a barging Armstrong which enraged the county player late in the contest, was absolutely correct. If Salthill are to win the county final this year, they will need all their players focusing exclusively on the job in hand rather than trying to “double job” and referee the game as well.
At the back Finian Hanley lorded his area and he was given good support from Rory McTiernan and Marty O’Connell. Conor Healy did some good things at midfield and up front the best support for Crowe and Armstrong was from the hardworking Conor Halloran and the impressive Sean Gavin.
Both those lads scored two good points each from play and had fine games. Gavin in particular impressed me. He is a tough grafter and did a lot of hard work for Jimmy Heverin’s side.
They have options for the upcoming joust with Corofin as they will have John Boylan to come back into midfield if necessary and Declan Burke will offer options up front. Likewise Alan Kerins will surely improve if he can get a few weeks of training with a big ball under his belt.
Who knows, even Michael Donnellan whose Junior A team were defeated by An Spideal in the championship last Sunday evening after suffering some contentious referring decisions, might decide to bump back up to senior for the rest of the year.
He wouldn’t be a bad option to have on the bench with 15 minutes left on the clock, and the fat in the fire. No doubt his mobile screen will have lit up this week with Jimmy Heverin’s number flashing…