U-21 Football Championship (played at Barryroe)
St James’ 0-6 Argideen Rangers 0-5
St James’ under-21s made a promising start to this year’s football championship with a win against Argideen Rangers, albeit by the narrowest of margins. The match was skewed somewhat, in that St James’ scored all but one of their points in the first half whilst the lads from Timoleague could only find their scores in the second half. A strong wind had a lot to do with it, but not the playing surface, for which Barryroe must be congratulated.
First point for St James’ came from Brian O’Leary, who was to lead by example all afternoon. He and Gareth Lombard were dominant in midfield, and with support from their half-backs were able to keep a nifty St James’ attack well supplied. The energetic Niall Barrett was always quick to the ball and linked up well with Michael Santry, who was denied a goal by the Argideen keeper and shortly after was prevented from scoring a point by being brought down; James Hayes put the resulting free over the bar. Peter Barrett was next to score, with a point from a fine long-range kick. With Argideen pinned back in their own half, an intelligent and quickly taken 45 by James O’Sullivan made it easy for Hayes to add another point to St James’ tally. A well-taken long-range free by Hayes increased the lead to five points.
When Argideen did finally break out, pressure from St James’ ensured their scoring opportunities went wide, and even a well-struck 45 by Argideen’s Rory O’Sullivan was plucked from the air by St James’ goalkeeper Pa Keohane before it could do any damage. That Argideen were kept scoreless for the entire first half owed much to a solid St James’ defence, with full-back Eoin Feen and half-back William Sheehan proving themselves immovable objects to an Argideen attack that repeatedly sought passage through the central channel. On the few occasions when Argideen did break through, the St James’ keeper proved a reliable last line of defence.
Argideen had the advantage of the wind in the second half, and finally found their range. Their tally of five points could have been higher but for six scoring chances going wide. But this was no accident: the St James’ midfield was augmented by the energetic half-forwards dropping back to ensure there were no easy pickings for Argideen. Tadhg Casey, James O’Sullivan and Kevin Kearns ran the Argideen attack ragged even before it met the determined St James’ half-back line of Peter Barrett, William Sheehan and Brian O’Donovan, the latter pressing on despite having received a heavy knock. Full-backs Emmet Hayes, Eoin Feen and Thomas Nyhan put in a sterling performance, with the enterprising Nyhan never afraid to venture forward. Ultimately, the match was decided by a single point made by James O’Sullivan, whose threatening charge towards goal was cut short illegally, thus gifting Hayes with an easy free from which he grabbed the point that was to make the difference.
St James’: Pa Keohane, Emmet Hayes, Eoin Feen, Thomas Nyhan, Peter Barrett (0-1), William Sheehan, Brian O’Donovan, Brian O’Leary (0-1), Gareth Lombard, Tadhg Casey, James O’Sullivan, Kevin Kearns, Niall Barrett, Michael Santry, James Hayes (0-4). Subs: Niall Evans, Danny O’Connor, Ryan Petit-Mee, Johnny Carroll, Jack Mackey