FIVE years after they were relegated from Senior football, Claregalway are back in the top grade after they were crowned Intermediate champions at Pearse Stadium on Saturday.
In an amazing final, they blitzed Williamstown in the opening half as they led by ten points at the break, but the second half was a total turnabout as Sean Keaveney’s charges took over in making a real contest of it right to the final whistle.
It certainly was a game of two proverbial halves as Claregalway were outstanding in the opening half, but for all their dominance, it took them a long time to pull away and open a gap. A Conor Kelly goal on 19 minutes gave them some breathing space as they opened up a four point margin, but the real turning point of the game came in the closing four minutes of the half as they knocked over five points in quick succession.
When Claregalway also got the first point of the second half, it was difficult to foresee what was in store for the remainder of the game. Thereafter, Williamstown took control as they slotted over ten points in a dominant spell, as opposed to just one for the winners.
The final whistle came very much as a relief to Paul Kilgannon’s side as they were hanging on during three and a half minutes of additional time, but they survived and victory set them up for a successful crack at the Connacht semi final the following day in Sligo.
Enjoying the wind advantage, Claregalway were quickest out of the blocks in the opening half as Darren Hennessy broke the ball to Danny Cummins and he opened their account. However, they were to suffer a few malfunctions over the next few minutes as they strugged to press home their dominance.
On four minutes, Sean Moran crashed a low effort off the far post, while the rebound by Conor Kelly was saved by Gary Silke. Further opportunities fell to Barry Callanan and Moran, but they fell wide of the target from scoreable positions.
Full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune