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2009 Junior Championship Final

Caulry cruise to Junior football crown in one-sided decider

Caulry 2-8
St. Paul's 0-2

Caulry regained the Westmeath junior football crown after a three-year gap with a comprehensive win over an off-colour St. Paul's side in Cusack Park, in a game which was a disappointment for the fans at GAA headquarters. 
With Sunday's protagonists having drawn their match in the league section of the championship, a ding-dong battle was envisaged for the county final, but sadly this never materialised. Caulry led from start to finish and St. Paul's simply never got out of the traps, albeit their cause being severely hampered by a first-half injury to key forward Johnny McGuinness. 
A point in each half (and the first of these was a gift) was a paltry return over the hour for the Clonmellon men. For their part, the winners now enter the Leinster championship in fine fettle after their third success this decade in the grade in the Lake County.
The red and whites had the advantage of a significant breeze blowing into the canal end of Cusack Park in the first moiety. They went into the lead in the second minute when a free from experienced midfielder Gary Flanagan - a worthy recipient of the man of the match award - found Johnny Dolan, who rifled over a neat point from 30 metres. Peter Smyth should have increased their advantage but he was off target from a kickable free. Brave defending from both sides was evident in the early exchanges, before Caulry spurned another couple of opportunities, Robbie Kenny (under pressure) and Gary Flanagan (after a solo run) being the culprits. Their second point arrived in the tenth minute, a flowing move ending with a great point from a tight angle from Johnny Dolan.

The winners' dominance continued, but wides ensued from Peter Smyth (from a tricky free) and Alan Fitzpatrick (despite having a lot of time to steady himself). St. Paul's goalkeeper Ollie Mulvaney had to come off his line to avert danger while, at the other end, the blue and whites registered their first wide as the midpoint of the half approached. The south Westmeath side opened up a three-points advantage in the 17th minute, Peter Smyth curling over a free taken from his hands, after a push on Robbie Kenny. 
In the 21st minute, Johnny McGuinness' free for St. Paul's was held up by the wind, allowing Johnny Buckley to field the ball on his own goalline. Caulry availed of this let-off by rattling over two further points. Alan Fitzpatrick's toe-poked pass freed Johnny Dolan to slot over his third point. In the 26th minute, Gary Flanagan's punt forward broke for Peter Smyth to pop over a neat point. A wild shot from Conor Slator summed up the losers' woes, before Robbie Kenny put his side six points to the good, the corner-forward shooting a great point after doing well to field Cormac Fox's delivery. 
St. Paul's opened their account in the last minute of normal time, Dara Brady tapping over a simple free awarded after Ben Moran needlessly picked the ball off the ground. In the third minute of added-time, Gary Flanagan scored a great individual point, but the luckless losers will feel aggrieved that they were not awarded a free in the build-up to this score. At the break, the Mount Temple side was firmly in control, leading by 0-7 to 0-1.

On the change of ends, an early attempt for a much-needed St. Paul's score by Paul Gilsenan was foiled by the winners' goalkeeper Joe McMahon. The football was very scrappy at this juncture but a neat flick from Johnny Dolan almost led to a fine point from impressive overlapping corner-back Damien Dolan, whose shot tailed narrowly wide. St. Paul's occasional attacks generally ended with a blue and white-clad player being easily dispossessed. Ollie Mulvaney did well to fist the ball clear from a lob by Peter Smyth but the St. Paul's netminder was powerless in the 14th minute to keep out a first-time pull from Alan Fitzpatrick after this year's Westmeath minor captain was alert to Peter Smyth's lineball. 
Fitzpatrick was more in the game in the second half and he followed up with a fine individual point. A second Caulry goal arrived in the 18th minute, a four-man move presenting Peter Smyth with a goalscoring opportunity. His effort was blocked but an alert Robbie Kenny fisted the loose dipping ball to the net, to open up a whopping 13-points lead. St. Paul's first wide of the second moiety came in the 23rd minute but, when Conor Slator fielded the ensuing kick out, his pass enabled David Dolan to kick their second and last score of the contest. Dara Brady was way off target with his attempt for their third score and the game petered out to a very lame conclusion. A dangerous ball forward from Caulry's Peter Smyth hopped wide of the post. 
With time running out, the returned Philip Gilsenan was sent off for a second yellow card offence. Peter Smyth missed a routine free for the winners, before St. Paul's were reduced to 13 men, Jimmy McQuaid also seeing red after a second booking. In the second minute of added-time, Gary Flanagan was wide from a free taken from the ground, but the fizz had long since gone out of a most disappointing final.

The poor spectacle which preceded did not worry the overjoyed Caulry players when they gathered at the victors' podium to listen to a speech by Des Maguire, chairman of the Westmeath Football Board, prior to Pat Buckley receiving the cup from Tom Farrell, chairman of the Westmeath County Board. 

CAULRY: Joe McMahon; Damien Dolan, Johnny Buckley, Pat Buckley; Ben Moran, Alan Rigney, Kevin Maguire; Gary Flanagan (0-1), Declan Donohue; Cormac Fox, Conor Allen, Alan Fitzpatrick (1-1); Robbie Kenny (1-1), Peter Smyth (0-2, 1f), Johnny Dolan (0-3).

ST PAUL'S: Ollie Mulvaney; Barry Davis, Ray Flynn, Kenny Higgins; Ronnie Higgins, Jimmy McQuaid, Gary Gilsenan; Paul Gilsenan, Conor Slator; John Fitzpatrick, Dara Brady (0-1f), Johnny McGuinness; Stephen Reilly, Philip Gilsenan, David Dolan (0-1). Subs: Lee O'Farrell (for McGuinness, 25 mins), Mickey Travers (for R. Higgins, h-t), Richard Sheridan (for Reilly, 35), Darren Henry (for Philip Gilsenan, 43), Philip Gilsenan (for Slator, 54).

REFEREE: Damien Maher (Ballynacargy).

Extracted from the Westmeath Independent Archives, 14th October, 2009