GORT are only one step away from redemption after overcoming Craughwell to progress to a SHC county final meeting with Liam Mellows after Sunday’s hard-fought semi-final replay.
Beaten finalists in 2015 and 2016 respectively, there was more than just a place in the county final at stake for both Craughwell and Gort. County final defeats are truly devastating and it takes a real quality team to come back from a setback as great as that and finally call themselves county champions.
Last year’s county final defeat to near-neighbours St Thomas’ will have left Gort’s players and management crestfallen, wondering where it went wrong over the dark winter months but now they have the opportunity to make amends, having earned their place in yet another decider.
For Craughwell, it was defeat at the penultimate stage for the second year running to Gort. They still await the opportunity to put the ghosts of 2015 to bed but for now, they must come to terms with this defeat and try and go again next year because this Craughwell side, no doubt have what it takes.
Throughout the year, inter-county players are often criticised for under-performing on the club scene and in certain cases, rightly so, but on a dull, murky day in Athenry on Sunday, All-Ireland winning wing-back Aidan Harte inspired his side to victory with an outstanding individual display.
Harte’s quickfire 1-2 before the break turned the game on its head after Craughwell’s livewire corner-forward Shane Dolan had goaled to hand his side the initiative, as Craughwell’s concentration slipped following Dolan’s tonic goal.
Harte’s pre-half-time heroics handed his side a lead they would never relinquish and once Kaelan Higgins and Jason Grealish landed second-half scores to put a degree of daylight between the sides, Gort looked comfortable.
Full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune.