INTEREST was high for the final of the Scotland GAA Junior League with Dalriada taking on Tír Conaill Harps in a mouth-watering tie.
Tír Conaill Harps have followed Dalriada into the junior ranks, and both sides have adapted well to life at this level, meaning it was no surprise to see them togging out in the final of the league.
The hard-fought encounter took place at the new facility at Clydebank Community Sports Hub, with a healthy crowd in attendance to cheer on the players, but it was the Harps contingent which was celebrating at the final whistle (above)—with the Glasgow side running out winners by a scoreline of 0-4 to 1-12 which didn’t tell the story of how hard they were made to work.
The first point for the Harps came on the first minute after a turnover, when the captain and full forward of the team received the ball and sent it easily over the bar. Maher scored a brilliant point five minutes later, with Muiris Bartley making a wonderful run, passing with ease through defenders and finally bringing the ball to the forward line.
On the tenth minute it was the time for the first goal, with David Bouchier hand-passing the ball to Dan Gallagher over the head of the Dalriada’s keeper and the last one getting the ball into the unprotected net. Fifteen minutes passed in total for Dalriada to score a point and at that time the score was 0-1 to 1-4.
The pressure from Harps was continuous, not giving the opposing team any space to develop their game plan and the half time score was 0-2 to 1-10. Dalriada were playing with a player less after a forward was dismissed two minutes before the break. Rough play on his part and a previous hit on Tír Conaill defender Daniel McGaughey when the ball was away gave the referee no choice but to show him the second yellow and finally the red card.
The first point for the second half was for the North Eastern team, but an accurate kick-pass from Danny McGeever gave Bouchier the opportunity to score a second goal for his team, keeping the difference too high for anyone to worry. Bartley scored a nice point only seconds after the goal, bringing the difference to 13 points in total.
McGeever, who was absolutely brilliant in the game as a half-back, made a wonderful run, dancing between two defenders and after a nice combination of hand passes he got himself into a position to get a point but unfortunately he sent the ball wide. Dalriada’s players were somewhat riled and a second red card came for a forward, again for kicking.
Perhaps the crowning glory for the winners was the point scored from James Carroll, the tall Harps midfielder. He got himself into a scoring position after a series of seven hand-passes were completed without the players having a solo or a bounce, showing the hard work on training for a passing game. Before the final blow of the whistle, Bouchier took his chances and scored a point from a difficult position to finish the game the same way it started, with a point from the left-footed captain of the new champions, giving a poetic flavour to the performance for the boys in green and gold.
It would be difficult to pick just one player as man-of-the-match, but young McGeever gave a brilliant performance; made no mistakes, gave assists and helped his teammates score, stopped the opponents and stole the ball many times throughout the game. Despite his youth, what he lacks in experience, in comparison with the older players, he makes up with talent and quality. On his last outing at the same ground he was injured and had to step out and although Harps won well against Glasgow Gaels on that day, he was unable to enjoy it fully, so perhaps it was all in the plan for him to be the best player of the winning team, the second time he was called to play on that particular field.