IFC, GROUP C, ROUND 5  Sunday 8 Sept 2019 – 

Walterstown and Blackhall Gaels met in Summerhill, for this “winner takes all” final group match. Played in excellent conditions, the teams served up a very competitive match, with the outcome in doubt until injury time in the second half.

In the first period, the Gaels attacked away from the clubhouse end, with the benefit of a slight wind. They started well, pointing from play within 30 seconds of the start. Almost immediately, Conor O’Sullivan pointed from distance to equalise. A free for Blackhall was responded to by John Geoghegan, scoring from distance. The teams then exchanged frees, with Blackhall again regaining the lead, before Alban Crosbie equalised. Blackhall then scored three points in 7 minutes to gain the upper hand. Walterstown replied with two frees, one each from Barry O’Connell and Alban. Blackhall pointed again to restore the lead to 2 points, before Barry, from play, reduced the deficit to the minimum approaching half-time. Shortly before the interval, the returning Ruairi O’Dowd replaced John Geoghegan. Whilst the teams were quite evenly matched on the scoreboard, the Gaels had been the more efficient and Walterstown had failed to convert two possible goal opportunities.

Half-time: Walterstown 0-6 Blackhall Gaels 0-7

Shortly after the restart, Ruairi pointed from play to level the scores. However, the Blacks would not score again for the next 18 minutes, during which time the Gaels scored two frees and a point from play to lead by 10 points to 7 with 20 minutes played in the second half. With the season’s hopes on the line, the nerves of the Walterstown fans in attendance were not shared by those inside the fence and the Blacks set about reeling in their opponents. The early season fitness sessions and beep tests would stand to the Blacks coming down the stretch. Aron McLoughlin, attacking well from wingback, started the comeback, with a point. Shortly afterwards, Mark McCormack pointed to reduce the deficit to one, before a fine score from Barry levelled the match, with only 4 minutes left on the clock. Cormac Madden, also returning from injury, replaced Adam Treanor, before Mark required treatment for a head injury, one of a number of stoppages during the second half, which ensured a significant amount of injury time. Mark was soon on his feet again and put the Blacks ahead for the first time in the match, with 1 minute of normal time to play. Peter Reynolds then replaced Aron. During injury time, points from Cormac and Paul Donnellan left the Gaels needing to raise a green flag. A pointed free from Blackhall reduced the deficit to two, but Walterstown responded with further points from Ruairi and Cormac to ensure a four-point lead at the long whistle.

Full-time: Walterstown 0-15 Blackhall Gaels 0-11

The win ensured that Walterstown advanced to a preliminary Quarter-Final with Ballinabrackey. The Blacks saved their best football for the final 15 minutes of the game, when the backs, who only conceded one point from play during the second half, repeatedly turned over ball on Blackhall attacks. The resultant counter-attacks saw the ball moved quickly and accurately into the scoring zone, with a number of the scores coming from fisted efforts from close range. While goals were possibly on offer, the decision to keep the scoreboard ticking over and ensure the win was correct. Everyone from 1 to 15 contributed to the result, with the returning Ruairi and Cormac scoring four points from play off the bench and Peter Reynolds assured as ever when on the ball. From open play, Walterstown scored 12 points and concede only 5. Joe and Martin can look forward to the knockout phase with confidence. Credit goes to Blackhall for a very competitive match, which should set up Walterstown nicely for the matches ahead.

Walterstown: John Davis, Eoin O’Mahony, Cathal Hennelley, Colm Reilly, Colin McGrane, Davy Reynolds, Aron McLoughlin (0-1), Conor O’Sullivan (0-1), Alban Crosie (0-2, 1f), Mark McCormack (0-2) John Geoghegan (0-1), Adam Treanor, Conor Farrelly, Paul Donnelan (0-1) and Barry O’Connell (0-3, 1f). Substitutes: Ruairi O’Dowd (0-2) for John Geoghegan, Cormac Madden (0-2) for Adam Treanor and Peter Reynolds for Aron McLoughlin, with Ciaran Murphy, Ciaran Lydon, and Kevin Devine unused.

Report By M. McGuire