Ardee St Marys’ Minor captain Philip Trainor paid tribute to Alan McGauley’s dramatic penalty save during Sunday’s Under 18 League Division 1 final, with the full back describing the moment as “game changing.”
Moments after he lifted the Ronan Goss Cup to seal a memorable and historic double winning campaign for the Marys teenagers, Trainor told ThisIsArdee.ie that he felt the save, in which McGauley dived low to his left to palm away Sean Healy’s spot kick from 13 metres.
At that stage in the game, the Marys lead by seven points – 2-05 to 0-04 – but Trainor felt they had come into the game after a slow start, building up a head of steam that was only undone by their own wayward shooting in front of the posts. McGauley’s stop halted their comeback and meant the Marys preserved a healthy lead at the break.
Alan saved the penalty and that changed the game,” Trainor told us. “They had a bit of momentum. Alan made the save and that turned it back our way.”
Today’s big moment wasn’t the first time the Blues goalkeeper has proved himself adept of keeping out penalties this year – nor was it the first time Trainor was grateful his stopper guessed the right way. His late save for Louth against Laois in the Leinster Minor Football Championship – all the way back in April – proved vital in continuing a run that would lead Louth to a Croke Park Leinster Final date with Dublin. Six of the Marys players involved today were part of that side, as where a number of Martins players too.
“It was tough. It was probably our toughest challenge so far. They pushed us all the way. The free at the end went over, it could have went in and levelled the game,” he said. It was out first real challenge in the league. We walked through most of our other games in the league.
The Marys had previously won all five league outings in 2017 and played the Martins back in April. While the Ardee side won out by eight points in the end, it turned out to the closest run of all their league games – until today.
Referee Stephen Johnson brandished three red cards in Darver – two for the Marys and one for the Martins, all second yellows – while Cian Taaffe can consider himself unfortunate to have been shown black in the first half. Trainor says his team dug in to get the result.
“There was cards flying everywhere. It was a tough physical game and you’re going to get that – especially at this time of the year. Thankfully, we came though in the end,” he added.
“I’m absolutely delighted, it’s been a great year. We started training back in March and played all the way through to November. It’s been a long old year. League winners, Championship winners, Leinster final – I’ll remember this year. It can’t get much better.”