The feeling entering Pearse Stadium for the round two football championship clash between St James and St Michael’s last weekend was that the Jimmies would be too strong for an injury-shorn St Michael’s outfit. And so it came to pass, with Seamus Burke’s charges winning easily enough on a score-line of 1-13 to 2-05.
It was only in the last quarter, however, that his side pulled away from their west city rivals. That will be a cause of concern for the St James’ management as they had the vast majority of possession for almost the entire second half. Despite the glut of leather, St James kicked eight second-half wides and were pedestrian at times up front. They will need to be more efficient and ruthless in attack if they are to reach the last eight.
They led by 0-8 to 1-3 at half time and it took three fine points in a row from David O’Connell to put some daylight between the sides in the second half. St Michael’s were without the injured duo of Eddie Hoare and Greg Rogan and also Jamie Downes and Peter Regan, and they were always going to struggle without that quality.
County minor Shane Maughan scored Michael’s first goal with a well-taken effort that gave Pat Regan’s side an early boost, and Conor Hoctor also swung over two nice points to start the evening positively. However, when St James found their rhythm they were by far the better team.
Eoin Concannon hit three good points from full-forward and he should also have goaled after 17 minutes when he took too much out of the ball when facing Robbie Hannon and he was correctly whistled up by Gerry Daly for over-carrying. County player Johnny Duane played a major role in St James’ victory from number six and he hit a good point too after an impressive full-pitch move.
Mark Kelly and Paul Conroy put in a good shift around the middle for the east city men, especially in the second half, and Conroy scored three points over the hour.
Last year’s intermediate champions started three of their minors from last season, Adam Lee, Aaran Connolly and Eoghan O’Regan. All three youngsters will be pleased with their contributions and O’Regan’s use of possession and vision up front was of a very high quality.
The St James’ goal which came late in the second half was well finished by Conor Glynn who was raiding from corner back. He gave Robbie Hannon no chance and it was a score the Renmore/Mervue outfit fully merited and left no doubt about their superiority.
John Egan impressed
James’ had some good performers and goalkeeper John Egan really caught the eye with some immaculate fielding under pressure. His handling was one of the highlights of the game and was faultless throughout. Their full back line was under pressure early on, but once big Shane Maughan roved further out the field in search of possession, they settled to the task.
Wing back Tommy Walsh had a fine game and showed great workrate throughout. Up front, Sean Donnellan worked hard without scoring, David O’ Connell hit three good points before collecting an unnecessary yellow card and. as you would expect. Eoin Concannon was their chief threat in attack.
The spectre of relegation to intermediate now hangs firmly over St Michael’s, and they are drawn to play Mountbellew/Moylough in the relegation series. They will do well to avoid that particular trapdoor and they were too dependent on Shane Maughan and Conor Hoctor up front. Barry Moran did kick two good frees in the second half and David Tierney snuck in for a late consolation goal at the death. Alan Glynn, Andrew Keane and Keith O’Donoughue tried hard at the back, but they were chasing shadows at stages and could do little to stem the tide. Pat Regan also deserves credit for doing his best to the bitter end at midfield.
With 60 minutes of championship football under their belts, the St James’ youngsters will improve and gain confidence and, if their senior county trio of Duane, Conroy and Concannon stay injury free and bring their form to a higher level over the next few weeks, they will have the spine to trouble Moycullen in the next round on the first weekend in July.