St. James’ 1-13
A late surge by Caherlistrane ensured they would come out on top of a close encounter with St. James’ in this winners group encounter on Saturday evening in Athenry, as a key brace of points by the ever reliable Cormac Bane proved enough for the North Galway men.
Having used the prevailing wind well in a highly entertaining first half, with goals at either end of the 30 minutes enough to give them a six point cushion, Caherlistrane were forced to defend for large portions of the second half as St. James’ threw everything they had at them but were unable to add to Tommy Walsh’s first half major.
Terry O’Regan’s side played some fine football but at crucial moments their finishing let them down and they were the lowest scoring (0-7) of the four sides who played with the wind at their backs at Kenny Park on Saturday. Caherlistrane were far more efficient, kicking only four wides in all, and amazingly all of their scores came from play.
When St. James’ got within one point with eight minutes to play, though, they looked the more likely to emerge victorious, but Caherlistrane dug deep and found the answers. Midfielder Shane Bohan kicked an inspirational score before Bane took over with points on 55 and 56 minutes, and although there was still time to respond, St. James’ were unable to unlock the Caherlistrane defence.
St. James’ may well look back on the opening ten minutes as their costliest period, as they struggled to come to terms with the wind when they advanced into Caherlistrane territory, and conceded 1-4 without reply. Ronan Conneely had struck for goal within a minute of the throw in for Caherlistrane, his shot from twenty yards taking a deflection that sent it floating into the top corner beyond the despairing David Curran.
Kevin Nally then added a point before Oisín O’Brien kicked a sweet effort, while Paul Conroy had somehow kicked a free from dead in front of the posts left and wide at the other end. Bane cleverly worked a short free into a better position via Barry McCabe to score before McCabe himself took advantage of a long ball in to stretch their lead to seven.
Thankfully, St. James’ responded well and finally found a score when Eoin Concannon’s free came back off the post and Concannon reacted quickest before fisting over the bar. Mike Fahy then dropped a shot over and Conroy converted a free to make it 1-4 to 0-3, before towering full forward Stephen Lawless kicked a super point for Caherlistrane.
St. James’ were setting up their four forwards almost in a line down the centre of the pitch to try and make the most of the space in either corner, and they were awarded a free for an off-the-ball foul on Alan Murphy as Caherlistrane struggled to cope with their movement. Concannon drove over the free as Johnny Duane moved back into a sweeper role in front of Lawless.
Full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune.