So Close for St. Joes but Grange Edge Connacht Final

Grange Post Primary………………1 St. Joseph’s Charlestown……….0

St. Joseph’s bowed out at the Connacht Final stage of the C (smaller schools) FAIS Competition in resplendent Sligo sunshine, after a morning deluge, to a very good Grange side at the Sligo Regional Sports Centre on Tuesday afternoon.

This was a game between two very evenly matched sides. No quarter was asked or given as both sides gave their all, it was telling to note the number of players that got leg cramp nearing the end on a fantastic pitch but the astro- turf took its revenge on these young athletes who gave everything for their respective schools. There was a carnival atmosphere around the arena, great crowds from both schools, teachers, parents and lots of noise coupled with excellent play on the pitch. Of course, both sides wanted to win but the atmosphere was quite friendly from both sets of supporters but as raucous as a Turkish football stadium!

The fare on the pitch was top notch but it was the Grange side that started the better and Seán Dunleavy had to be alert early on to pluck a few shots from the sky. Jack Mahon tried asking an early question of the opposing goalkeeper but was offside. In truth Charlestown showed too much respect to Grange and the skilful Sligo lads lapped it up. The lead and what turned out to be the only ‘allowed’ goal of the afternoon came from a Grange corner that was bundled to the St. Joes net from close in, scrappy enough, in a game that was of high calibre.

 Ruairi Cullen took the game by the scruff of the neck midway through the half and really shown everyone present that St. Joes were not going to play second fiddle for much longer. A Cullen corner saw the Grange ‘keeper somehow claw a goal bound effort to safety. The momentum was now with the Mayo team and there were many forays forward. David Doherty ploughed his way from the defence many times winning frees in the process. Eoin Goldrick did likewise on the other wing while Ciarán Honeyman diffused any forward runs by the opposition.Mahon went on a mazy run but didn’t get anything in return and then after 37 minutes, following a corner, came a trade mark Jack Brennan header that almost tore the net from the post  but dismay followed when the goal was ruled out for a push according to the referee. Even the Grange lads thought it was a bit harsh, but the half time whistle arrived with the Sligo champions having their noses in front.

There was nothing to panic about at the half time talk. This game was rescuable. It started well with Dillon Curry and Ben Conway doing more work in midfield and Luke O’Donohue holding up play well. A delightful move after 2 minutes saw Tomás Goldrick link well with Mahon and the resultant free kick saw Mahons kick parried over the ‘bar by a very good Grange goalkeeper. Curry had a snapshot wide from another free. Truth be told Grange were living on scraps, but they had the lead and they had a very able defence. As one of the St. Joes lads said after, they did to us what we did to Belmullet in the semi-final, a fair assessment! On the occasion that they did break forward they did look dangerous. They did put the ball in the net again but is was off side according to the referee and to be fair there was no argument from either team. Ben Crean and Martin McCormack joined the action midway through the second half and continued the forward momentum of the Charlestown side. On one occasion McCormack, a speed merchant by trade, burst through after somewhat of a lost cause but yet had the goal in sight only for his finishing let him down and he fired wide. Cullen was again to the fore and turned up just about everywhere urging his team on. Dylan Marren replaced the cramping Luke O’Donohue and continued the battle. A superb through ball saw Mahon leave his marker for dead, he sidestepped the out rushing ‘keeper and the equaliser was on it way only for a mammoth clearance from a Grange defender who appeared from nowhere to clear the ball to safety and break Charlestown hearts in the process.

Thanks to a brilliant bunch of lads for a very entertaining season. Hopefully most of you will be back with us next season while we wish David, Luke and Dylan Thanks also to all who helped make today the spectacle that it was, included in this is the Grange management as well as the referee, lines lady and linesman as well as teachers and staff at both schools as well as Mr. Barry McDermott, FAIS and Mr Harry Reilly, Competition Co-Ordinator. Of course, we cannot forget Marie our bus driver!

It was also nice to meet up with Mr. Vinnie Doherty who is a past pupil of St. Joes but is now supporting Grange! He was a real stalwart of many St. Joes teams of the past.

Saint Joseph’s Community College U19 Connacht Final 2019