Dundalk Gaels' Chris Sweeney and Paul Moore of Newtown Blues met in today's Anchor Tours SFC game in Dunleer. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
Anchor Tours SFC group one
Dundalk Gaels 0-7 Newtown Blues 0-17
A major gap developed on the green bank in front of the press box at half-time of Sunday’s game in Dunleer. Surveying further, there were no more than 40 residents of the stand and about double that on the entrance side of the shelter.
Within eyesight range of The Democrat’s vantage point, there was a group of St. Mochta’s men, another pocket of O’Connell’s, a score or so of Dundalk Gaels, Newtown Blues and a few neutrals. A small crowd for a poor game around which there was an echoing inevitability.
Blues were flat, as was underlined by their lacklustre offensive display in the first half, where they hit five wides and dropped as many short. If there was ever a day to catch the three-in-a-row chasers this was it, yet Gaels never threatened a hugely unlikely triumph.
They blazed an early goal chance wide, David McComish’s shot skipping outside the far post, at a time where Blues seemed to lack urgency and motivation, only to awake to a degree in the lead into half-time, where they led by four points, 0-8 to four.
Ciarán Downey was the champions’ main score-getter, with 0-9, five of which were registered before the interval, four from frees. And the Louth attacker was instrumental as Blues upped their levels palpably on the restart. Colm Judge also played well.
Gaels’ task was an unenviable one in any case. Not even a marginal victory would have earned them passage into the knockout round, thus staving off a relegation play-off with their old foes, Sean O’Mahony’s. It had to be by seven, six had the match been incredibly high-scoring, which never seemed likely. The Mochta’s crew had a comfortable watching brief, their quarter-final berth never in danger, and departed before the finish.
Éanna McArdle (2) and McComish got Gaels’ only second half points, while Blues supplemented their tally by more than double, substitutes Dáire Nally and Hugh McGinn among the registrars over a time-killing spell.
Ultimately, little was learned from this exercise. Blues are without doubt the team to beat and with Andy McDonnell and Conor Branigan to be added to the XV-plus that faced Gaels, the question remains: who’s going to stop them?
Dundalk Gaels: Joe O’Donoghue; Mark Hanna, James Lynch, Jamie Faulkner; Jason Clarke, Oisín Murray, Adrian Rafferty; Errol Boyle, David Moloney (0-2); Seán Murray, Gary Shevlin (0-2, 45s), David McComish (0-1); Éanna McArdle (0-2), Eamonn Kenny, Gerard McSorley
Subs: Paul McCrave for Kenny (28), Seán McCann for Clarke (HT), Pádraig Boyle for Boyle (40), Chris Sweeney for S Murray (43)
Newtown Blues: Jay Lowney; Kevin Carr, Alan Connor (0-1), Niall Costello; John Connolly, Paul Moore, Ian Connor; Fergal Donohoe (0-1), John Kermode; Jamie Kelly (0-1), Colm Judge (0-1, free), Robert Carr (0-1, free); Ross Nally (0-1), Ciarán Downey (0-9, six frees), Conor Moore
Subs: Emmet Carolan for Costello (30), Dáire Nally (0-1) for Kelly (35), Hugh McGinn (0-1) for Donohoe (40), Donohoe for P Moore (47), Ronan Levins for I Connor (48), Johnny McDonnell for Judge (53)
Referee: David J McArdle (St. Bride’s)