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2000 Minor Premier Championship County Final

Castledaly/Caulry Disappointment In Minor Final  

Inny Gaels 2-6
Castledaly/Caulry 0-2

Inny Gaels and Castledaly/Caulry both contested their first ever final at this level on Sunday afternoon last and it was Des Doolin’s men who overcame the inexperience factor to claim glory in the Murtagh Brothers Auctioneers minor football championship final at Cusack Park. 

Producing a display loaded with top-class defending and street-wise second-half finishing, the eventual winners had to come from behind in the early stages, but more than proved their worth by getting to grips with the weather conditions and powering to a comprehensive and resounding victory.

Make no mistake about it, Castledaly/Caulry will have much better days than this and had some very useful performers, in particular Kenneth Larkin, Enda Kelly, Damien Doyle and Alan Rigney. They really only came unstuck by their inability to obtain scores against a formidable defence that was brilliantly held together by a combination of Raymond Sheridan, Finian Newmann, Darren Fulham and Daniel Carty. 

Slippery underfoot conditions dampened the scoring exploits of both sets of forwards in the opening half, but in fairness to the eventual winners, they well and truly came to terms with the situation in the second-half and achieved a very creditable scoring haul that would have seen them hard beaten regardless of the weather.
Deprived of the skill that Ronan Doolin would have brought to the number ten jersey, the Inny Gaels selectors produced a shrewd tactical switch before the throw-in that saw Aidan Finnan take up station on the wing and Peter Tormey come off the bench to join Mark McNicholas in the half-forward line. 

Although failing to pay any immediate dividends in terms of scores obtained, it turned out to be a masterful move as the game wore on, with the trio grabbing 2-4 between them, a huge return under the circumstances. 
Eric Sullivan and Daniel McDermott, at the forefront of everything positive from Inny Gaels, played very well against such a powerful midfield duo of Gary Flanagan and Niall Duffy and the winners’ number eight, despite failing to find the target himself, was a massive factor in keeping the Inny Gaels performance on track. 
It was Castledaly/Caulry, however, who broke the deadlock with approximately ten minutes played when full-forward Chris Donoghue, a good footballer who would have inflicted far more damage if in receipt of more possession, curled the ball inside the right-hand upright for the opening score of the game. 
After squandering some good chances earlier on, Inny Gaels responded and then led with a fine free from Ryan Plunkett and an equally well-worked point by Mark McNicholas. 

Castledaly/Caulry, only trailing 0-2 to 0-1 at the break, had an opportunity to put their defensive qualities to good use in the second-half, but they were out-manoeuvred by some diligent work by Ciaran Brennan and Martin Cunningham which kept the balance of power in favour of Inny Gaels during the second thirty-five minutes. 
Scintillating defending further back the field from Jonathan Hardiman and Conor Newmann, backed-up by a fine performance from Enda Murphy, restricted Castledaly/Caulry to a single second-half point. 

With handling errors completely understandable, goalkeeper David Howard was unlucky to come up against two very tricky deliveries that found the net at the other end, after he had played very well and kept numerous Inny Gaels’ onslaughts at bay. He shouldn’t feel bad because these goals, as it turned out, didn’t make any difference to the overall outcome, as the return of 0-2 from Castledaly/Caulry would have still left them short of victory. The score at the time of the first goal was 0-3 to 0-1 and only an Alan Kelly effort found the target during a second-half that saw the runners-up get little or no change from a marvellous Inny Gaels defensive set-up. 

With towering superiority becoming the order of the day, Inny Gaels gave some of their substitutes a taste of the action and Adrian Smyth, Eoin Fox and Daragh Doolin all added weight to the performance of the soon-to-be-crowned champions. With controlled blocking and tackling keeping Castledaly/Caulry under wraps during the closing minutes, Eric Sullivan and Mark McNicholas launched over points in the run-up to the final whistle. When referee Michael Gordon brought proceedings to a close, Inny Gaels were in a commanding position and registered an historic victory on a full-time scoreline of 2-6 to 0-2. 

Best for Inny Gaels were Finian Newmann, Eric Sullivan, Peter Tormey, Martin Cunningham, Darren Fulham, Raymond Sheridan and Conor Newmann.
Castledaly/Caulry were served admirably by Damien Doyle, Enda Kelly, Chris Donoghue, Niall Duffy, Gary Flanagan, Colm Claffey and Kenneth Larkin.

Inny Gaels: Enda Murphy, Jonathan Hardiman, Conor Newmann, Daniel Carty, Raymond Sheridan, Darren Fulham, Finian Newmann, Daniel McDermott, Eric Sullivan (0-1), Aidan Finnan (1-1), Peter Tormey (0-1), Mark McNicholas (1-2, one free), Ciaran Brennan, Martin Cunningham, Ryan Plunkett (0-1, from a free). Substitutes: Daragh Doolin for Ryan Plunkett, Adrian Smyth for Peter Tormey, Joseph Tormey for Daniel Carty, Gary Farrell for Martin Cunningham, Conor Geeragh for Jonathan Hardiman.

Caulry/Castledaly: David Howard, Brendan Gavin, Kenneth Larkin, Eddie Egan, Brian Mullarney, Enda Kelly, Colm Claffey, Niall Duffy, Gary Flanagan, Alan Rigney, Damien Doyle, Niall Kelly, Alan Kelly (0-1), Chris Donoghue (0-1), Michael Duffy.

Referee: Michael Gordon (Shandonagh).
Extracted from the Westmeath Independent Archives, 11th November 2000