It is never easy to beat the same team twice, especially in a short space of time. No matter how much better one outfit is compared to the other, defeating them the second time around is hard work. Their dander is up, and they are well focused to take you down. They will also have learnt from the first defeat and will be better organised to nullify your strengths.
Salthill/Knocknacarra found that out last Saturday evening in Pearse Stadium, when they barely limped past a fired up St Michael’s outfit by a single score, 0-13 to 0-12.
The game looked destined to go to extra time as Peter Curran’s outfit laid siege on Cormac Connolly’s goal for the last few minutes, and his valiant charges shot the last three scores of the game as they pulled their more illustrious opponents back from 0-13 to 0-9 to a one point game.
They even had a scoring chance from a 45 as the game drifted late into injury time, but the impressive Eddie Hoare, who played a captain’s role throughout, was unable to nail an equaliser and, despite lording the last 10 minutes, they were finally beaten by the clock.
The main reason Salthill advanced was their slickness up front.
In Seán Armstrong, who shot seven points (5fs ), and Gary Cox (0-2 ), they had players who were able to eke out some crucial scores at vital times. Armstrong’s five points in the second half were critical to the win and, alhough he was well marshalled by Alan Glynn, he was still able to contribute two fine efforts from play. If he could add a little bit more consistency to his play, he would be a really dangerous forward.
Cox, who is the former Roscommon player, also caught the eye at centre-forward and some of his link play was impressive. His second score, which he hit in the second half, was a good point.
Brian Conlon, who came on at corner forward at half time, also notched one fine effort from a tight angle and may merit a starting place on the first 15.
St Michael’s were too reliant on the impressive Conor Hoctor and Eamon O’Donnell for scores from play and they needed former county minor Shane Maughan to do something special in the full forward line. He did shoot 0-5, but they were all from placed balls, and Cian Begley did well on him in general play. Begley did commit one professional foul on Maughan as he bore down on goal in the last quarter and it was amazing that he did not pick up a yellow card.
Boylan and Hoare battle
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the game was watching the midfield battle between John Boylan and Eddie Hoare. Both players gave everything they had for their causes. Hoare shot two good points and drove his team on with some surging runs through the middle. One of these should have led to another score, but he harmlessly dropped the ball short into Cormac Connolly.
Conor Healy did well for Salthill around the middle and shot two scores from play.
Salthill manager Gerry Hughes has plenty of time to improve things over the next six or seven weeks before the quarter-finals on August 18/19. He will know last weekend’s performance will not suffice against the big guns like Corofin, Killererin, or an improving Tuam Stars.
The big break now before the quarter-finals will give regular full-back Finian Hanley a chance to recover from injury and it will allow guys like Ruadhrí McTiernan to get back to full fitness.
St Michael’s produced a solid performance and they gave everything to try to secure what would have been a sweet victory for the club. Their championship is over for 2012, but at least they secured their senior status for another year with their well-merited victory over Moycullen.