Westerns GFC bowed out of the Louth GAA Junior Football Championship at the quarter-final stage for the second year running as Lann Laeire edged a pulsating last eight clash 3-12 to 2-12 at the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday evening.
Conor Kerr and Johnnie Lynch both struck first half goals but the side from Dunleer hit back with two finishes to the net of their own in an extraordinary first half. Bob Murphy’s goal early in the second half ultimately proved the difference in the end. Tommy Durnin hit 0-06 of his team’s total for the day.
Two comfortable wins against Wolfe Tones and John Mitchels in the group was followed up by a not so routine late victory over the Sean McDermotts en route to this clash with John O’Connor’s Lann Leire. Considered evenly enough matched teams, this was always likely to be close.
However, in forward Bob Murphy, the Dunleer outfit had a player in imperious form. The standout player on the day, Lann Leire’s progress was in no small part to his powerful and bustling performance in the full forward line. He hit 2-02 altogether.
He scored the game’s opening two points before Anthony Durnin responded and Conor Kerr finished superbly after the Westerns worked the ball well to create a goalscoring chance. Trevor Baylon’s point came before Johnnie Lynch netted. After Dermot Caraher’s shot was saved by John King, the ball feel kindly to Lynch. His low shot nestled for 2-02 to 0-02.
The response came in the form of points from Ian Mulroy and Colin Murphy, either side of Murphy’s opening goal. In an end-to-end period, the Westerns’ Durnin brothers contributed four points but Bob Murphy’s first goal of the evening kept them in touch. Mulroy’ hit a free attempt off the post. The ball fell kindly for Murphy, who squeezed the shot under goalkeeper Peter Shiels.
Two points in the final minute of the first half left the scores at 2-07 a piece at the end of a first half so frentic, it was hard to keep up.
What proved the Westerns downfall in the end was a period of mayhem in the backline early in the second half. They went behind for when Bob Murphy struck his second goal. Namesake Colin saw his shot blocked and the bouncing ball feel kindly for the number three who smashed an effort past Shiels from close range. Had it connected with the stopper, it would have seriously hurt him – so fierce was the strike.
Callan’s Paul and Liam capitalised on the Westerns hesitancy moments later to extend the lead to five and Cathal O’Hanlon’s charges could never quite pull that deficit back. Baylon stopped the rot and then Louth man Durnin scored from a free and play.
Sub Conall Maher and Colin Murphy made it a two score game once more as the clock ticked towards 70. Baylon’s close range free and then an Anthony Durnin point in injury time were the remaining scores. He elected to point when a goal was needed, in truth. Bob Murphy could have finished the game for good but skewed wide. He had already done his bit.
The men from Reaghstown are in mid-table obscurity as the league season winds down to a finish. They have a Kevin Mullen Plate final against John Mitchels to play yet, in what will be their only meaningful remaining fixture in 2017.
WESTERNS GFC: Peter Shiels, Mick Martin, James Ward, PJ Marron, Colin Martin, Sean McGuinness, Stephen Boylan, Tommy Durnin (0-06), Anthony Durnin (0-03), Terence Sweeney, Trevor Baylon (0-03), Ciaran Scriven, Dermot Caraher, Conor Kerr (1-00), Johnnie Lynch (1-00).
Subs: Niall Moynagh for PJ Marron (36), Ciaran Campbell for Dermot Caraher (40), Andrew Kerr for Terence Sweeney (55), Andy Murray for Colin Martin (55)
LANN LEIRE: John King, Paul McGeough, Paul Doyle (0-01), Michael O’Hare, Brian McGuinness, Jason Torris (0-01), Andrew Dowd, Ian Mulroy (0-01), Garry Monaghan, Niall Lennon (0-02), Liam Callan (0-01), Colin Murphy (1-02), Paul Callan (0-01), Alan Murphy, Bob Murphy (2-02).
Subs: Brendan McEvoy for Niall Lennon, Conall Maher (0-01) for Liam Callan
REFEREE: Anthony Briscoe