St James stride into All-Ireland final

St James 0-12

Gneeveguilla (Kerry ) 0-10

(After extra-time )

Last Sunday in Mallow St James’ footballers did what many Galway teams have failed to do in the past - they got one over their Kerry opponents in an enthralling All-Ireland intermediate semi-final.

The Munster champions Gneeveguilla were tipped by many to advance, but it was the Galway city side that tore into the fray with a fantastic spirit and will to win, typified by their captain, Mark Kelly.

“Sparkey” as he was known in his county days, turned back the clock with a terrific display in the middle of the park. The fact that he was still going strong in the second period of extra-time is a credit to the way he looks after himself, and the quality of the training the James’ squad have been doing in the past year or two.

Many people have asked what age Mark is, and I don’t know exactly, but I do know that he collected a senior Connacht championship medal with Galway in Bosco McDermott’s reign back in 1995. So to be still going strong 16 years later is a testament to his ability, commitment, and drive.

Eoin Concannon was another key component in the victory and his six points and overall contribution were crucial to the win. Johnny Duane, who has impressed everyone who has seen him play in the past few seasons, was again a rock at centre-back. He also had the energy levels and ambition to race up the field to punch the insurance score in the second period of extra time. He has oodles of ability and should be a big player for the county u-21s this season.

County senior player Paul Conroy had a fine game and his use of the ball, close control, and vision always mark him out. His confidence and “Mo-Jo” seem to be back and he is enjoying his football which is good news for all Galway fans. If St James are to go on and win the final, they will need him continuing to exert his influence.

All over it was a superb team performance, and guys like Alan O’Donnell at full-forward, Jamie Burke, Conor Glynn, Shane Coughlan and Tommy Walsh all did very well.

Team manager Seamus Burke summed up the display perfectly when he pointed out after the game, “when we wanted to bring in some fresh legs, we didn’t know who to take off as everyone was going so well”.

A nice dilemma for any manager to be in, and one he will hope to have on Saturday week, (February 12 ), in Croke Park, where they will face Lisnaskea (Fermanagh ) who defeated Ballymore (Kildare ) in their semi-final on a score-line of 1-12 to 1-05.

St James: J Egan; S Coughlan, A Deacy, C Glynn; J Burke, J Duane (0-1 ), T Walsh; P Conroy 0-3 (0-2 fs ), M Kelly; M Elwood, E Conconnan 0-6 (0-2 fs ), S Donnellan; R O'Connell (0-1 ), A O'Donnell, S Rabbitte (0-1 ).Subs, B Dooney (50m ), S Boyle (59m ), D O’Connell (61m ), S. Donnellan (extra-time ) ), M McCormack (77m ).


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