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  • Sport

Oh Danny Boy the points, the points kept coming

Tuesday, 17th May, 2011 8:53pm

By CIAN O'CONNELL

Claregalway ......................1-17

St James's .........................1-9

THIS was always going to be a revealing Saturday evening for both clubs and so it transpired at Pearse Stadium as Claregalway emerged emphatic victors.[private]

With Eoin O'Donnellan now at the helm, Claregalway are quietly confident they can embark on a lengthy summer adventure and the evidence was favourable for them as this was a particularly effective display.

St James' first Senior Championship game proved to be a disappointment as they were unable to contain a Claregalway team prompted by Barry Cullinane at centrefield and inspired by the delightful Danny Cummins inside.

With Cullinane and his willing midfield partner Joe Garrett well on top, Claregalway's busy forwards saw plenty of ball and Cummins was a menacing threat throughout. The All-Ireland U-21 winner ended the hour with six points, a goal assist, and was ultimately the reason why Claregalway enjoyed such a convincing win.

St James's, backed by a strong breeze, yearned for a positive start but Claregalway settled quickly as Cullinane used his physique well and Garrett offered valuable assistance. With that solid centrefield platform, Claregalway were on top and led by 0-5 to 0-1 after 11 minutes. That was a feat considering they were playing against the elements, but O'Donnellan had them fit and prepared and a direct approach yielded dividends. Paul McGuinness and Martin Kelly signalled their intentions with points and though Seán Donnellan responded with a tidy effort Claregalway were in the ascendancy. Three in a row from the classy Cummins (2) and Brian Moran left them in control, and though James' rallied it was only a brief interruption. Eoin Concannon and Donnellan reduced the margin, but then Cummins crafted a goalscoring chance for Adrian Faherty, and the Galway custodian, effective in a corner-forward role, made the James' net ripple with a clinical finish.

Ronan O'Flynn then banged over a point for Claregalway who stretched their advantage to a commanding 1-6 to 0-3 by the 22nd minute. Four points were shared evenly between the teams before the break as Claregalway departed 1-8 to 0-5 in front.

It was a similar story of Claregalway supremacy following the re-start. Cummins curled over seconds after Cullinane had claimed referee Gerry Kinneavy's throw-in. Martin Kelly kicked a similarly opportunist point moments later and Claregalway were on the road to victory.

St James' were determined and a Mark Kelly point was followed by a goal from a Tommy Walsh penalty in the 40th minute. Claregalway, though, never came close to panicking as Cullinane and Garrett continued to graft, while wing-forward McGuinness buzzed about too. Claregalway's football was crisp and every James' score in the closing stages was answered rapidly with Cummins continuing to torment the City side, who now face a "back door" clash with cross-town rivals St Michael's.

Ultimately St Jamess can look at Claregalway as a template on how to remain competitive at the highest level because since winning the Intermediate Championship back in 2002 they have slowly, but surely made progress. Now backboned by Brian O'Donoghue, David Heaney, Cullinane, Garrett, and Cummins they have enough quality to be respected by every club in the county.

Claregalway: B O'Donoghue; S Cunniffe, D Heaney, J Kearney; C Glynn (0-1), C Costello, M Evans; J Garrett, B Cullinane; B Moran (0-2), R O'Flynn (0-1), P McGuinness (0-3); M Kelly (0-3, two frees), D Cummins (0-6), A Faherty (1-1, 0-1 a 45). Subs: A Watson for Glynn (49 mins), G Cheevers for Moran (58 mins), JP O'Connell for Kelly (60 mins), A Moran for Kearney (60 mins).

St James's: J Egan; C Glynn, A Deacy, A Lee; A Connolly, J Duane, T Walsh (1-0, penalty); P Conroy, M Kelly (0-1); M McCormack, E Concannon (0-3, one free), S Donnellan (0-3); R O'Connell (0-1), A O'Donnell, D O'Connell (0-1).  Subs: S Rabbitte for McCormack (39 mins), J Burke for Lee (55 mins).

Referee: Gerry Kinneavy.

Herald Sport Man of the Match: Danny Cummins.[/private]

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