Brian Cody has regularly pointed out that the only time to be ahead on the score board is at full-time. And the men from Leitir Mor must have been listening to him. They timed their final surge last Sunday to perfection to defeat St James on a score-line of 0-9 to 0-7 to be crowned the Claregalway Hotel intermediate champions for 2009.
With 10 minutes to go the city side were in pole position to get into the senior ranks for the coming season as they had scored five points in a row and had drawn level with Ciaran ÓFatharta’s charges.
They were looking good with the home stretch beckoning and they looked by far the likely team to win. However the Leitir Mór men are made of stern stuff and they broke up the field.
Daithi Mac Donnchadha held his nerve to shoot a fine lead point from a free won by the rampaging Fiachra Breathnach and there was to be no way back for Seamus Burke’s men.
The vital insurance point was tacked on in injury time by substitute Patrick Mark O Fatharta from Doirín Darach to see the Connemara men emerge as champions and back in the senior ranks for 2010.
While the standard of fare left a lot to be desired, and Joe Kernan didn’t need too much lead in his pencil to take notes of those new lads he will be calling into the Galway panel for next January, it was exciting stuff and there was a great buzz in the stand.
Toto O’ Griofa had a good game around the middle for Leitir Mor and he looked lean and fit, and he was helped out by Critóir Ó Flatharta in that area.
Up front the twin towers of their attack were team captain Fiachra Breathnach and younger, taller brother Ferdia, whose height and power were difficult to negate for the St James rearguard in the first half with the breeze helping the Leitir Mor deliveries.
Alan Deacy fought the good fight at full-back and he restricted Ferdia to a single score from play, but whenever the ball went in high there was consternation.
Daithi Mac Donnchadha was the top scorer for the winners and his 0-4 (2fs ) were crucial in such a tight contest. Peatsí Seoighe worked his socks off all around the field too and picked up the man of the match trophy.
Other players who impressed in spots were Ciarán Bairéad, Tomás Ó Griofa, Coilin Ó Hogáin, and Eamonn Ó Loinsigh.
St James will be disgusted they did not play to the standard required for promotion and only Johnny Duane at corner back played with the intensity and to the level required to win tight games.
Team captain Mark Kelly had been having a tremendous second half before receiving his marching orders from Jerome Henry. With his dismissal, St James seemed to completely lose their shape and in the final few minutes, there was only ever going to be one set of players marching up to collect the silverware.
St James will feel that they left this title behind them, but in the final analysis it was Leitir Mór who followed the hard road and stuck at it even when they were being overrun in the third quarter.
If a few of the St James forwards had rattled over a few more points or taken their goal chances, they would have won. They didn’t, and and that’s the main reason why they lost.
However, fair play to Leitir Mór and best of luck to them in the Connacht Intermediate club championship. When the game was there to be won, they were the team that produced the goods.
Who knows, we could have a real Gaeltacht bandwagon on tour if they and An Spidéal get rolling over the next few months.
Can you imagine the two parishes if they got out of Connacht?
Naomh Anna agus An Spidéal in Croke Park next February strutting their stuff, flown up by Aer Arann - wouldn’t we love it?