Westerns GFC blew John Mitchels away in Stabannon on Thursday evening, winning 2-13 to 1-03 to all but seal their place in the quarter-finals of the Louth GAA Anglo Printers Junior Football Championship.
After last week’s win over the Wolfe Tones, the Westerns ran out comfortable winners for the second time in six nights but in truth, the Drogheda men proved a much sterner test than the disappointing Mitchels did this week. Conor Kerr and Johnnie Lynch were the goalscorers in a routine dismantling. Their big points difference means that only a cataclysmic defeat next week against the Seans will deny them a place in the quarter finals.
Both of these sides enjoyed opening day wins six nights ago so the chance to go clear at the top of Group 4 and take a huge step towards qualification was up for grabs. Arguably, the Mitchels came into the game on a greater high. Their six-point victory over the Seans in Tallanstown was consider a shock and their prospects for the entire campaign have been greatly heightened.
The Westerns picked up their win against the Tones and that was seen as one of the more nailed on results of the opening round, with respect to the plucky Division 5 outfit. Here, they were coming up against an opponent of a similar level. Speaking to ThisIsArdee.ie before the Championship, Westerns veteran Anthony Durnin said “there isn’t a kick” between his side and the Mitchels.
There proved to be much more than a mere kick between the teams early on. In fact, there were several kicks between the Westerns and the John Mitchels. It was the Reaghstown men who were doing all the kicking.
Durnin himself started the scoring and minutes later, his team hit the back of the net. Conor Kerr took in Tommy Durnin’s fisted pass over the last man and his low shot squirmed under David Anderson. Aaron Kane was on the line but he could only divert the ball into the other corner of the net.
Points from Ciaran Campbell and Terence Sweeney extended their lead further before the Mitchels were dealt a cruel blow. Alan Mackin, so outstanding in last week’s win, was forced off after an almighty clash in the midfield. Rory Durnin took his place.
Whilst his loss was a blow, it was further forward that the Mitchels problems were being laid bare. They didn’t look like scoring and only had Conor Reilly’s solitary wide effort to their name. Johnnie Lynch made it 1-4 to no score.
Tommy Durnin, who had earlier missed two frees with right and left boot, got in on the act when he ended a fantastic, pacy move involving Mick Martin and Trevor Baylon. The inter-county man burst through and slotted over and then he scored a free to push the Westerns further infront.
Ben O’Brien’s two 45s fell short as the Mitchels went in at the break with no scores to their name. It was a stark contrast from last week when they had been much the better side and in fact denied the Seans a score in the opening 30 minutes.
The younger Durnin scored arguably the best score of the night seconds before Anthony Briscoe blew his whistle for half time. Less than a minute after the restart, a second Lynch point put Cathal O’Hanlon’s men even further ahead. It was so one sided.
36 minutes into the game, Robbie Coyle registered the Mitchels first point of the evening from a free. That came either side of Trevor Baylon’s two well taken scores.
Ahead of Sunday’s Leinster Minor Championship final at Croke Park, there was no John Gallagher in reserve for Mitchels’ management duo Hugh Diamond and Gerry Gallagher to call upon, but he could have done little to help the Ballybailie men here. With a massive game now to come against Wolfe Tones next week, expect to see him in some capacity.
With 20 minutes remaining, the Westerns struck their second goal. Baylon and Durnin combined to feed Lynch. He let Anderson make the first move before blasting his shot into the net. 2-10 to 0-01.
Conor Reilly got the Mitchels second point from a free and Barry Kirk netted with ten minutes remaining. Brothers Anthony and Tommy Durnin put over before sub Patrick Kerley and Reilly traded points at the end.
It finished 2-13 to 1-03 and on this evidence, there’s more than a kick between the sides. The Westerns’ two wins and 25 point positive point difference means they are all but through. The Mitchels must go back to the drawing board.
WESTERNS: Peter Shiels, James Ward, Colin Martin, Stephen Boylan, Sean McGuinness, John Murray, Dylan Ogle, Tommy Durnin (0-04), Anthony Durnin (0-02), Terence Sweeney (0-01), Mick Martin, Trevor Baylon (0-02), Johnnie Lynch (1-02), Ciaran Campbell (0-01), Conor Kerr (1-00).
Subs: Andrew Kerr for Ciaran Campbell (50), Gerry Curtis for Trevor Baylon (53), Patrick Kerley (0-01) for Johnnie Lynch (57), Shane Matthews for Mick Martin (57), Andy Murray for Stephen Boylan (58), Damien Boylan for Terence Sweeney (30+1)
JOHN MITCHELS: David Anderson, Mitchell Keenan, Aaron Kane, Emmett Farrell, Alan Mackin, Anthony Coyle, Neil Reilly, Brendan McDonnell, Aaron Keely, James Clarke, Steven Coyle, Ben O’Brien, Conor Reilly (0-02), Barry Kirk (1-00), Robbie Coyle (0-01).
Subs: Rory Durnin for Alan Mackin (15), Mikey Nulty for Conor Reilly (19), Conor Reilly for Neil Reilly (24), Neil Reilly for Stephen Coyle (31), Gareth Finnegan for Anthony Coyle (46).
REFEREE: Anthony Briscoe