Masters advance to semi-finals
by Sean Dunnion Jnr.
Four Masters 0-12 St. Eunans 1-07
Barry Monaghan clears the ball out of defence, as brother Marcus clears the way forward. Photo: Micheal O'Donnell
A hungrier Four Masters overcame St. Eunans in the quarter-final of the championship on Sunday evening in MacCumhaill to advance to a semi-final clash with championship favourites Ardara in two weeks time. The Masters were much the better team throughout and were deserving winners of a match played in good conditions despite a lot of rain earlier in the day.
The first half was score for score with Four Masters going in at the break leading 0-07 to 0-06, with the scores coming from Michael Doherty (3), Barry Dunnion, Marcus Monaghan, Rory O Donnell and Derek Mc Ginty. Indeed the lead should have been greater but for some wayward shooting, while the defence was playing extremely well keeping the dangerous threat of Kevin Winston, Brendan Devenney and Conal Dunne starved of the ball.
The Masters increased their lead to two points early in the second period but after a sloppy pass from an otherwise excellent Marcus Monaghan St. Eunans worked their way through for a great goal from John Haran. However, this did not deter the Donegal Town men and points from play from man-of-the-match Barry Dunnion and Rory O Donnell had the Masters in front again. Michael Doherty increased the lead with another fine point before Paul Kilcoyne and Derek Mc Ginty exchanged points with time nearly up. These were to be the final scores of the evening before Jimmy White blew the final whistle and Four Masters are just one step away from another county final appearance.
Four Masters: Paul Durcan, Damien Cassidy, Don Monaghan, Patrick Gillespie, Karl Lacey, Gareth Britton, Barry Dunnion (0.2), Marcus Monaghan (0.1), Barry Monaghan, Derek Mc Ginty (0.2), Shane Carr, Joel Carr, Rory O Donnell (0.2), Ciaran Cassidy, Michael Doherty (0.5). Sub. used: Peadar Espey
Senior Reserve Championship
Four Masters 0-9 St. Eunans 0-7
Four Masters completed the double over old rivals St. Eunans on Sunday evening last with the Reserve team also advancing to the championship semi-final where they meet Naomh Chonaill from Glenties. The Masters had an interval lead of 0-6 to 0-2 with the scores coming from Barry O Donnell (3), Benny Cassidy and Martin Cassidy.
St. Eunans launched a bit of a revival after the break and indeed came back to level the scores after 14 minutes. Four Masters dug deep and their greater experience seemed to carry them through and further points from Barry O Donnell, Benny Cassidy and Kevin Coulter gave the Donegal Town boys a great win 0-9 to 0-7 and another chance to go to a Co. final.
Four Masters: David Murray, Conor Rooney, Padhraic Mc Glynn, Shane Browne, Ronan O Shea, Francis Cassidy, Enda Caldwell, David Hand, James Mc Mullin, Barry O Donnell (0-4), Garry Mc Ginty, Joyce Mc Mullin, Declan Mc Monagle, Martin Cassidy (0-1), Benny Cassidy (0-3). Subs used: Terry O Doherty, Anthony Mc Anaw, Kevin Coulter (0-1), Enda Bonner, John Mc Aloon.
Four Masters square up to St Nauls
Move aside Armagh and Tyrone for the moment - we have our enactment here in Donegal in the shape of the U-14 championship decider between neighbours Naohm Naille and Four Masters.
Scheduled for Mc Cumhaill Park on the week-end of September 13th/14th (check fixture list), this contest has all the ingredients of being a closely contested affair. There will be no lavish press nights - no mention of segregating rival fans - no stress levels associated with demand for tickets and hopefully no planned garda excort for match officials, and yet the game takes on even more importance than any All-Ireland for those involved.
It is no surprise that both teams have made it to this stage - finalists at U-12 and U-13, their stranglehold at this age group has not being seriously challenged. Having said that, Inishowen representatives Malin claimed the scalps of both on their way to winning the All-County U-14 league - defeating Masters at the semi-final stage and Nauls in the league decider.
Predicting how the final will pan out is not an easy task. Certainly trying to gain pointers from the respective management teams is well nigh impossible. Carefully chosen comments like great to be in the final - we will give it our best shot - may the best team win on the day are common place. Makes me think that Bushs task of tracking Saddam might be an easier task.
Having said that, it is obvious that both sets of mentors like to let their teams do the talking on the pitch. Examination of trophy cabinets only paints the small picture and having seen both sides in action and sometimes having the much sought after task of whistler, it is very evident that both sets of players are getting and paying attention to good advice. Both sides have experienced the joys of victory and the heartbreak of defeat - yet their spontaneity remains.
It is no surprise that the boys from Inver have already left their mark on the county underage scene. The evidence was there at U-10 level that this group were a wee bit special - something every club experiences at some stage or other. To date they have not disappointed their enthusastic band of supporters. While there may be some regret within the club at the ending of the John Kerrs/Eamon Breslin era, many pundits within the club are now pinning their hopes on this squad to fly the Nauls torch in the coming decade.
Players like Barry Rose, Shane Mc Devitt, Christopher Burke, Stewart Johnston, Pauric Coyle and Shane McHugh are central to Denis Gormans plans in their attempt to claim the ultimate prize.
In the case of Masters the U-14 championship trophy had its share of visits in the 90s. Four in a row successes in 96 97 98 and 99 may well have created its own little record. However it will count for very little in deciding the destination of the trophy for 2003. The contribution of players like Josh Lacey, David Crawford, Paul McIntyre, Remi McGrory, Hugh Mc Partlan, Conor McMonagle and Stephen Keeney will almost certainly have a major bearing on the outcome.
More often than not the critical role of management teams is overlooked - only seems to come in for analysis when games are lost. It would be fair to say, were it not for the contribution of the management teams on both sides, the destination of the 2003 championship may well be heading a different direction.
In the case of Masters, Hughie Sweeney became a reluctant manager at U-12 - however along with Brendan McMonagle and able assistance from John McIntyre they have brought an enthusastic and well organised set-up to bear on the group of players in their charge. Their decision to appoint the experienced Kieran Keeney as team coach was the central axis in the completion of the jig-saw.
Route to the Final
While neither would swap final positions with any other contestants for a place in the final, it would be fair to say that both management teams would have preferred a stiffer test on their path to the big day. Any examination of scorelines would clearly indicate that neither side was seriously tested. When the draw was made last March Four Masters first round opponents were Killybegs - semi-finalist at U-12 level in 2001 - so a potential banana skin lay in wait. However a comfortable first leg victory in Fintra laid that ghost to rest and the return leg proved to be an equally one-sided affair.
Quarter final opponents Naomh Conaill provided a stiff challange in the opening half, however Masters took over to win out. Having suffered a defeat at the hands of Malin in the league semi-final, Masters were wary of facing the same oppofition at championship level - a good opening quarter proved decisive.
Naomh Nailles path proved somewhat similar - never at any stage was the outcome of their matches in doubt. Aodh Ruadh provided the opposition in the first round - no play-off required and a quarter against Dungloe the prize. Seeing off the Rosses opposition with ease left a semi-final date with Gweedore. No more than the Masters/Malin encounter, Denis Gorman was a trifle worried facing the Gaelteach boys - unknown opposition. However a comprenshive 2-15 to 1-7 victory paints its own picture.
In the absence of any predications from the respective management teams, the onus on making a call is left with the scribe. Looking back to 2001 where Masters emerged victorous and 2002 where Nauls reversed fortunes to claim the U-13 title may not give any great indication as to the outcome. An examination of the 2003 clashes between the two sides may well provide some indications.
Nauls emerged victorous in the Feile na nOg competition where they went on to represent the county at the National Finals. League clashes left a win situation for both sides - however of greater signifiance would be the convincing nature of Naomh Naille when both sides clashed in the recent Southern Regional Final. An obvious cause for concern for the Masters management is the lack of physical strength throughout the side, an advantage that Nauls have exploited in the past. They will be hoping that the open spaces of Mc Cumhaill Park can be utilised to the full - otherwise they may succumb to a Nauls outfit whose progress since the 2001 defeat is admirable.