GAA | Dundalk Gaels win but they make hard work of dispatching Cooley

Anchor Tours Louth Senior Football Championship Group Three
Dundalk Gaels 0–10 Cooley Kickhams 1–6

Dundalk Gaels’ Eanna McArdle breaks away from Patrick Hanlon of Cooley Kickhams
Left: Dundalk Gaels Barry Watters and James Loughran of Cooley Kickhams. Right: Dundalk Gaels David Moloney gets away from Gerry Malone of Cooley Kickhams. PICTURES: CIARAN CULLIGAN

Victory for Dundalk Gaels in their Louth Senior Championship Group Three opener against Cooley Kickhams on Sunday afternoon but they will have to go through several more gears if they are to end a 65-year wait to recapture the Joe Ward.

There is no doubt that Malachy O’Rourke’s side, missing the likes of Derek Crilly and Ger McSorley, were full value for their win.

However, after a promising showing in the opening 30 minutes, they looked disjointed in the second half and made hard work of beating a Cooley team who showed nothing to suggest that they have what it takes to end their 27-year wait for senior success.

The Gaels opened brightly and Cooley goalkeeper Neil Gallagher was called into action within seconds, getting down to deny Niall Hearty from point-blank range.

Dundalk Gael’s Sean McCann grounds Jake McShane of Cooley Kickhams. PICTURE: CIARAN CULLIGAN

A Ciaran Sheelan point from the right opened the peninsula side’s account but it was the Gaels who took a firm grip on things after that.

Sean McCann dropped a ‘45 short and David Moloney registered a wide but the Dundalk lads soon found their shooting boots. McCann, who was highly influential in the opening half, hit the first of four excellent long-range efforts with seven minutes played.

VIDEO: Dundalk Gaels’ Sean McCann speaks to Dundalk Sport

David McComish then put the cap on a driving run from the back with a tidy point and Oisin Murray also helped himself to a score, making no mistake from McCann’s quick free kick.

Cooley looked lethargic, dropping efforts short and missing with a host of chances, but they went in at the break still very much in the game, 0–6 to 0–3 behind, thanks to a couple of Brian White scores from the ground.

Dundalk Gaels’ Sean Murray is closely marshalled by Cooley Kickhams’ Alan Page. PICTURE: CIARAN CULLIGAN

That three-point deficit was wiped out in the sixth minute of the second half when Sheelan took advantage of some slack defensive play by the Gaels to rifle past the helpless John Burlingham.

The Gaels struggled to regain their accuracy with substitute Emmet Lindsay and McCann both missing the target. Cooley fared little better with White finding the palms of Burlingham’s hands at the other end.

Lindsay’s 43rd minute effort from the left did split the posts and Moloney added another four minutes later but a stunning sideline effort from White reduced it to a one-point game with 10 to play.

Substitute Barry Watters, making his senior championship bow, edged the Gaels two in front as Cooley continued to squander chances to pull themselves level.

Dundalk Gaels David Moloney and Oisin Murray celebrate at full time
Left: Cooley Kickhams’ Brian White and Jamie Faulkner of Dundalk Gaels. Right: Cooley Kickhams’ Ciaran Sheelan gathers possession in front of Dundalk Gaels’ Peter McGinnity. PICTURES: CIARAN CULLIGAN

Conor Rafferty left just one in it but Eamonn Kenny’s point in stoppage time gave the Gaels some breathing space and it proved to be crucial as White’s ’45, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, came too late in the day to save Cooley.

DUNDALK GAELS: John Burlingham, David McComish (0–1), Jamie Faulkner, James Stewart, Conor Morgan, Oisin Murray (0–1), Peter McGinnity, Eamonn Kenny (0–1), Sean McCann (0–4, 1f), David Moloney (0–1), Sean Murray, Eanna McArdle; Chris Sweeney, Niall Hearty, Sean Fee. Subs: Barry Watters (0–1) for C Sweeney (BC), 27 mins; Emmet Lindsay (0–1) for S Fee, HT; Sean Fee for E McArdle, 50 mins.

COOLEY KICKHAMS: Neil Gallagher; James Loughran, Keith White, Alan Page, Gerry Malone, Peter Thornton, Darren Marks, Conor McGuinness, Michael Rafferty, Aoghan McGuinness, Brian White (0–4, 2f, 2 ‘45), Ciaran Sheelan (1–1), Shane Marks, Dillon McGarrity, Jake McShane. Subs: Patrick Hanlon for D McGarrity, HT; Thomas McGuinness for J McShane, 53 mins; Conor Rafferty (0–1) for M Rafferty, 45 mins.

REFEREE: Stephen Johnson (Glen Emmets).

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