Sunday, October 24, 2010

Match report: Garrycastle 0-13 Longford Slashers 1-9

Westmeath star Dessie Dolan was the hero as Garrycastle advanced to the quarter-final of the Leinster Club Championship with a 0-13 to 1-9 victory against Longford Slashers.

The veteran forward hit eight of his side’s 13 points, including three stunners from play, as the Westmeath champions edged out their Longford counterparts in a pulsating affair in Mullingar’s Cusack Park.

The 31-one-year-old was unmarkable in the first half and flawless from free kicks throughout as Garrycastle, runners up in Leinster last year, prevailed to set up a quarter-final against Louth champions Mattock Rangers.

In bright, still conditions, it was Garrycastle who started the brighter of the sides with wing back Mark McCallon notching the first score of the game after a typically powerful forward surge.

A 20 metre Dolan free-kick after four minutes doubled his side’s advantage before Slashers finally got on the board three minutes later through simple Mark Smith left-footed free.

Garrycastle were dominating possession at this stage but found themselves pegged back after a surging run and score from Slashers number seven Paul Kelly.

The wing back - Longford’s goal hero in their Championship victory against Mayo this year - ran fully 40 metres with the ball and evaded three challenges before pointing under pressure from several Garrycastle defenders.

Moments later, the first real goal chance of the game fell to Garrycastle’s James Dolan. Slashers’ doubling-up efforts on his cousin Dessie meant that the corner back was operating in a free role and consistently getting forward.

However he failed to take advantage of that freedom when he blazed high and wide from close range after being sent clear by a genius diagonal ball from his cousin.

That miss seemed to inspire Dessie Dolan to take matters into his own hands and the 2004 All-Star soon kicked two monster points from play to restore Garrycastle’s two point cushion.

Another free from Mark Smith and a fisted point from David Sheridan brought Slashers level again before the Longford side took the lead with what turned out to be the game’s only goal.

After Garrycastle goalkeeper Cathal Mullin could only touch a long range effort from Mark Smith on to the crossbar, the ball fell kindly to centre-forward Colin Smith who made no mistake from close range.

The shock of finding themselves suddenly behind in a game that they had the better of appeared to spur Garrycastle into life and they hit four unanswered points in the last five minutes of the half.

Another masterful long range point from Dessie Dolan came first and was soon followed by scores from midfielder Seanie O’Donoghue and full forward Paul Dillon. Dolan then added another point from a free to give his side a 0-8 to 1-4 lead at half-time.

The second half began with similar intensity to the first but the aggression levels seemed to briefly soar with Garrycastle’s Ross McGowan booked for a high challenge that left Kelly needing lengthy treatment shortly after yet another Dolan free had extended the Westmeath side’s lead.

Two massive points from play by the impressive Mark Smith either side of Dolan’s fourth free of the match, kept Slashers in close contention before a controversial score from McGowan gave Garrycastle some breathing space.

The half-forward should have found the net when clear on goal but after cutting inside the goalkeeper his weak left-footed effort was blocked on the goal line by Garreth Ghee.

However the rebound broke to the McGowan again and his deflected point attempt was eventually awarded by the referee after initially being waved wide by the umpires.

If Slashers felt a sense of injustice, they responded in a positively to it and frees from Mark and Colin Smith brought them level with ten minutes to go.

Once again, being pegged back seemed to help Garrycastle find another gear with substitute Shane Mulvihill hitting the target from play before Dessie Dolan added his side’s final score from a free after Doran Harte was fouled by a furious Kelly.

A Colin Smith free cut the deficit to one point and the same player had a chance to level the match with the last kick of the match in the fourth minute of injury time. However his long range free from near the sideline dropped well short as the final whistle sounded.

Garrycastle who lost to Portlaoise in last year’s provincial decider feel they are well set to go at least one step further this year. With talisman Dessie Dolan in such sparkling form they must have every chance.

Garrycastle: C Mullin; J Dolan, J Gaffey, A Fox; M McCallon (0-1), K Henson, D Harte; S O'Donoghue (0-1), A Browne; D O'Shaughnessy, D Dolan (0-8, 0-5 frees), R McGowan (0-1); A Daly, P Dillon (0-1), P Mulvihill.

Subs: J McAteer for Daly (28), S Mulvihill (0-1) for O’Donoghue (30), E Mulvihill for Fox (42), J Duignan for Dillon (47), D Hermbusche for McGowan (60).

Longford Slashers: G Hourican; G Ghee, B Gilleran, D Glennon; P Brady, D Brady, P Kelly (0-1); N Mulligan, D Sheridan (0-1); T Glendenning, C Smith (1-2 0-2 f), A Murphy; M Smith (0-5, 0-3 f), S Philips, S Flynn.

Sub: M Tarmey for Murphy (42).

Ref: Maurice Deegan (Laois).

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