GAA | Clan na Gael emerge victorious after a goalfest with the Geraldines

Division One League | Clan na Gael 4–13 Geraldines 3–11

Clan na Gael’s Micheal McDonnell gets away from Geraldines’ Shane O’Hanlon. PICTURE: CIARAN CULLIGAN

Clan na Gael’s impressive return to Division One continued on Tuesday night as the Castletown outfit moved joint top of the table after an entertaining joust with the Geraldines on the Ecco Road.

The result looked done and dusted when referee Gerard Corrigan blew the half-time whistle with the Clans sitting 12 points ahead after a 15-minute purple patch that saw Mark McCann’s side bag four goals. The second-half, however, turned out to a very different affair.

The Gers dug deep to close the gap to just four as the game headed for the final quarter but the hosts had enough firepower to see it out, the result moving them alongside Dreadnots on nine points at the summit.

Billy Smith opened the scoring inside the opening minute with a tidy effort from the left but Kevin Pepper levelled it up for the Gers, who went into the game knowing that a win would lift them out of danger at the bottom of the table.

Geraldines’ Matt Corcoran holds off Clan na Gael’s Conall McKeever. PICTURE: CIARAN CULLIGAN

Both sides then hit the woodwork, Shane O’Hanlon denied a point by the upright for the visitors. At the other end, Conall McKeever saw his goal bound drive crash off the post.

McKeever was involved again shortly after, feeding Mark McGeown who opted to take a point instead of going for goal. The veteran forward then added another seconds later as the Clans took charge.

Dara Hamill responded for the Gers but JJ Quigley restored the natives’ two-point lead, 0–4 to 0–2, to cap an entertaining opening 10 minutes.

Paul Clarke grabbed the score of the game after that, a sublime effort with the outside of his left boot from the touchline and O’Hanlon tied things up after forcing his way past Ray McCabe and Donal Boyle to tap over.

Geraldines’ Matt Corcoran goes to ground under pressure from Clan na Gael’s Robbie Curran. PICTURE: CIARAN CULLIGAN

The game’s opening goal arrived in the 15th minute when McKeever offloaded to Smith and the big forward rounded Nathan Cooney to hit the net.

The green flag was raised again three minutes later when Quigley’s lofted pass evaded Tiernan Hand and picked out Robbie Curran who made no mistake.

The visitors were left with a mountain to climb when Craig Long rushed in to hammer home a rebound after Cooney did well to push Smith’s effort away. With 21 minutes played, the Clans had a nine-point lead, 3–4 to 0–4.

Dara Hamill dragged a shot wide as the Geraldines battled to stem the tide and they were let off the hook in the 24th minute when Ray McCabe’s booming ball found McGeown in the danger zone. His ball across the face of goal demanded to be turned home but Donal Boyle was happy to palm the ball over the top for a point.

Substitute Robbie Lynch grabbed a much needed score for the Haggardstown side but they were cut open again in the 26th minute, Smith skipping away from Cooney to tap home goal number four. A Robbie Curran free left it 4–5 to 0–6 at the break.

Jim McEneaney was well shackled in the opening half but he found his range with an early free in the second period. Another opportunity to claw the hosts back arrived shortly after but this time his effort was well off the mark.

Hamill cut the deficit to 10 points and McEneaney made things very interesting when he found the bottom left hand corner of Sean Smith’s net with a well hit free kick.

And it was very much game on when O’Hanlon hit his first score of the night in the 45th minute, leaving just six between them, 4–6 to 1–9.

Clan na Gael’s Mark Newell celebrates after winning a free-kick. PICTURE: CIARAN CULLIGAN

Michael O’Donnell kept the visitors at arm’s length when he fired over a JJ Quigley pass, the Clans’ first score of the second half and a badly needed one at that.

McEneaney missed a scorable free by his standards and when Clans substitute Mark Newell extended the gap back to eight, that looked to have put the hosts out of sight. Eamon McEneaney’s side refused to throw in the towel, though, and Matt Corcoran squeezed a shot under Smith to give them some hope.

Curran replied at the other end before points from Corcoran and Tiernan Hand left four in it, 4–09 to 2–11 with seven minutes left on the clock.

The home side tagged on scores at crucial moments, however, and Smith, a brace of frees from Curran and a well struck Newell effort secured another win before the Gers grabbed a last ditch consolation from Corcoran to put the seal on an enthralling game.

Clan na Gael’s Ray McCabe blocks Geraldines’ Jim McEneaney. PICTURE: CIARAN CULLIGAN

CLAN NA GAEL: Sean Smith; Ian Carr, Leo Martin, Donal Boyle (0–1); Craig Long, Stephen Fitzpatrick, Michael McDonnell (0–1); Robbie Curran (1–4, 2f), Conor Noonan; JJ Quigley (0–1), Paul Gore, Conall McKeever; Billy Smith (2–2), Mark McGeown (0–2), Ray McCabe. Subs: Paul Crewe for P Gore, 44 mins; Mark Newell (0–2) for C Noonan, 50 mins; Stephen Coleman for M McGeown, 55 mins.

GERALDINES: Nat Clooney; James Craven, Nicky Mackin, Tiernan Hand (0–1); Gerard Hoey, Jack Traynor, Paul Clarke (0–1); Matt Corcoran (2–1), Paddy Hoey; Josh Arrowsmith, Stephen Reidy, Kevin Pepper (0–1); Dara Hamill (0–2), Jim McEneaney (1–1, 1f), Shane O’Hanlon (0–1). Subs: Robbie Lynch (0–1) for J Arrowsmith, 13 mins; Neil Jones for K Pepper, 46 mins; Andy Lynch for J Craven, 49 mins.

REFEREE: Gerard Corrigan.

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