Conor McAllister of Slaughtneill , right, and Steven O’Neill of Kevin Lynch's in action in the Derry Senior Hurling Championship final, which was won by Slaughtneill. See this week's Irish Echo for a report. [Inpho/Lorcan Doherty]

Westmeath bridge 27-year gap

Westmeath 2-15   St. Barnabas 2-10

Westmeath lived up to their billing as the most powerful team in New York as they repelled a late challenge from St. Barnabas to claim their second senior football title. They won their first in 1996. 

Meanwhile their powerful full-forward  Niall Mitchell opened the scoring in the second minute. The exchanges were fairly hectic in the opening minutes as Padraig Studdart quickly replied for the Bronx Boys. When play switched to the other end corner man Killian Butler displayed a nice vignette of skill as he maneuvered through a thicket of players to split the posts. 

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Then straight from the kick-out Callum Jones landed a fine long range point.  Westmeath then went ahead after five minutes as Mitchell scored from an acute angle after a deft pass from Butler.  However the lead didn’t last  long  as Brendan Martin was downed in the square. The keeper parried Jack Reilly’s penalty shot, but Reilly finished the rebound to the net.  Reilly followed up with a point, and things seemed to be going in Barnabas’s favor as they led by a goal after 10 minutes. Well that perception soon changed as Westmeath were almost totally dominant for the rest of the quarter. The Mid-Landers added 1-8 for the rest of the period, while holding Barnabas to just a solitary point.  

The Bronx boys appeared unable to cope with the sheer size, strength and skill of their highly vaunted opponents. Niall Mitchell was winning the high balls and setting up chances for his colleagues. Indeed keeper Brendan Cole pulled off two superb saves, from Jack Savage and Killian Butler before Niall Mitchell did find the net. The Barnabas posts were nearly under constant siege as Jack Savage, Adam Loughlin-Stones and Gavin O’Brien hit points to propel their team to a 1-8 to 1-3 lead at the first water-break. The rout appeared to continue after hydration as Jack Savage landed two “savage points” and Killian Butler  curled in a beauty as well. Barnabas were struggling to get the ball beyond midfield, and when they did, they didn’t have much luck as a Jack Reilly shot came back off the post. 

Then just before the intermission, Barnabas did create a goal chance against the run of play, but the attempt was blasted wide. Still Westmeath went leading comfortably by a score of 1-12 to 1-4 at the short whistle. Upon resumption Barnabas stepped up their performance as they began to win more possession. Callum Jones pointed a long range effort and Barnabas looked on track for a goal, but it came to naught. Westmeath hit back with a brace courtesy of Savage and Mitchell.  For the remainder of the third quarter Barnabas were enjoying their most productive spell as they put three unanswered points on the board with Jones(2) and keeper Brendan Cole the scorers. Entering the last quarter there were still six points between the teams, and that increased to seven after Savage pointed a “45”. Shane Hogan made his presence felt with a point from long distance, and Mikey Brosnan pointed a free resulting from an off the ball incident.  Then with six minutes left on the clock, there were just two points between the sides after Brendan Martin banged in a goal. 

Barnabas continued to hunt for scores but a combination of resolute defending by Israel Ilunga, Conor Coughlan, Eric Lowndes and Daniel O’Sullivan and poor shot selection didn’t advance the score. Then a late goal from Gavin O’Brien ensured that Westmeath were going to the victor’s circle as  New York senior football champions for 2023. Overall Westmeath were deserving winners as their very potent firepower upfront gave them a decisive edge. 

Westmeath: Pat Guerin, Niall Donohue, Israel Ilunga, Boidu Sayeh, Conor Coughlan, Eric Lowndes, Daniel O’Sullivan, Emmett O’Congaile, Stephen Monaghan, Jordan Ajani, Jack Savage(0-7), Adam Loughlin-Stones(0-1)capt., Killian Butler(0-2), Niall Mitchell(1-3), Gavin O’Brien(1-2). Subs Mark Galligan, Keith Scally, Stephen Nolan, Brian Travers, Rob Wharton, Luke Kelly, Darragh Carmody, Sean Moore, Dylan McDermott. Shane Fagan.

St. Barnabas: Brendan Cole (0-1), Peter Cronin, Dylan Curran, Jamie Boyle, Mikey Boyle, Padraig Studdart(0-1), Shane Brosnan, Conor Rafferty, Conor Mathers, Tiarnan Mathers, Callum Jones(0-4), Brendan Martin(1-0), Jack Reilly(1-2), Mikey Brosnan(0-1). Subs Jack Dennis, Gearoid Kennedy, Timmy Fitzmaurice, Oisin Mathers, Ian Kavanagh, Paudie Mathers, Francis Cole. Shane Hogan(0-1), Adam Powers, Caolain Mathers. Referee Peter McCormack, Man of Match Niall Mitchell.

A good start is 

half the battle

Kerry 2-7 Mayo 0-12

The Intermediate Championship final was a game of very contrasting halves. Kerry, the victors, started very impressively and they seemed to validate their favorite ranking. They almost goaled from the throw-in, but they still had the ball in the net after two minutes as Niall McCarthy set up Liam Kearney for the major strike. Indeed Kerry could have had a few more goals, but the ball was scrambled off the goal-line to safety.  

 However on the 10-minute mark, there was no denying Liam Kearney as he single-handedly sailed through from midfield to get goal number two. Soon after Ollie McLean opened Mayo’s account with a point as Eamon Brannigan acting as supplier. The exchanges were now more balanced as the sides were trading points. James Walsh pointed a free, while Eamon Brannigan pointed from play with an assist from Shane Slattery.   James Walsh, Niall Madine and Niall McCarthy would register points for Kerry, while Shane Slattery, Ollie McLean and an inspirational Dan Enright effort responded for Mayo. Still, Kerry led by 2-5 to 0-5 at the break. 

If Kerry dominated most of the first half, Mayo dictated most of the second half. The scoring accentuates the pattern of play, Mayo scored seven points, while Kerry were limited to two. Mayo stepped up their performance, most notably McEvoy, Flynn, Queenan, Enright and Brannigan. Ollie McLean got Mayo’s momentum going with a brace, and though Niall Madine pointed on five minutes, Kerry would not score until there were two minutes left in the game. Mayo scored five consecutive points courtesy of Flynn, McLean, Kilkenny, Brannigan and Conor Hogan levelled up with just seven minutes left on the clock. Three minutes later Martin Stack put his team back in front. Mayo had a handful of late chances to draw level or go ahead but efforts were dropped short or wide of the mark. 

Kerry, though, also blasted a bone fide goal opportunity away as time ticked away. The adage that a good start is half the battle was very fitting here from a Kerry perspective as Mayo were always chasing for the spoils of victory. In another sense this game was a bruising battle. The referee, who did an admirable job, brandished seven yellow cards and one black. Naturally it was a very pleasant task for the New York chairperson, Joan Henchy, to present the Dennis McHugh memorial cup to captain Michael Cronin. Kerry will be back in the senior ranks next year, and that will definitely be their more natural habitat. 

Kerry: Kevin Dwyer, Aidan Long, Niall Collins, Hugh McDonald, Sean Liddy, James Walsh(0-2), Rob O’Sullivan, Peter Fox, Liam Kearney(2-0), Niall McCarthy(0-1), Niall Madine(0-3), Keith Quinn, Colm Logue, Martin Stack(0-1), Michael Cronin(capt). Subs Ronan McLoughlin, Shane Hennessy, Keelan Hickey, Shane Mangan, Conor Lynch, , Creagh Courtney, David Langan, Ed Myers, Garry O’Driscoll, Kenneth Quirke, Padraig McCray, Sean Flavin,

Mayo: Connor Tinney, Sean McEvoy, Ciaran Slattery, James Kilgarrif, Roy Holian, Mathew Queenan, Dan Enright, Tom Flynn(0-1), Johnny Power, Ryan Kerley, Eamon Brannigan(0-2), Ciaran Kilkenny(0-1), Ollie McLean(0-5), Shane Slattery(0-1), Michael Lundy. Subs Connor Hogan(0-1), Shane Hogan, Conor Bowden, David Pond, Shane McNeilis, Sean Staunton. Referee Ciaran Lee, Man of Match Liam Kearney.

Easy for Rangers

Rangers 2-15   Longford 1-5

Rangers qualified for the Junior A final with a rather facile victory over a depleted Longford squad. Now they await the outcome of the postponed match between St. Barnabas and ODR to determine their opponents.  Longford started impressively as JJ Mathews had the opening score,  and they were a tad unfortunate not to score a goal as well.  Then a timely turnover set the scene for Joey Grace to get Rangers’ opening score. Chris Mulvihill quickly added another after a delivery from Brian Twomey. Shay McElligiot and JJ Mathews swapped points  before Dalton McDonagh powered his way in  for a score.  Shay McElligiot put his team ahead but Longford’s Williams responded with a brace to reclaim the lead 0-5 to 0-4 with ten minutes left in the period. Rangers were now exploiting their speed and skill up front and they would tag on four unanswered points while denying Longford any opportunities. 

Rangers led by 0-8 to 0-5 at the break, and the difference could have been more as the Longford keeper saved brilliantly from Joey Grace.  Upon resumption Rangers added three points but that was offset by a great goal from veteran Jason Kelly. Things were going badly for Longford in the last quarter as two players were dismissed. So Rangers exploited their numerical advantage to put 2-4 on the board while keeping Longford scoreless.  Lorcan Kennedy and Tommy Hannaway were the goal scorers, while Shay McElligiot(2), Johnny Power(0-1) and Tommy Hannaway(0-1) got the points. Overall Rangers were the better team as they have a good blend of youth, speed and skill.