Sam McCartan, St Loman's, beats a grounded Nigel Harte in Saturday's SFC semi-final at TEG Cusack Park.

Late Cox goal wraps up facile win for St Loman’s

St Loman's 2-13, Tyrrellspass 0-5

By Gerry Buckley

A fit and focused outfit from St Loman’s, Mullingar led from start to finish in TEG Cusack Park last Saturday evening in what proved to be a one-sided Flanagan Cup semi-final clash with their great rivals in recent years from Tyrrellspass.

Given the Tidy Town’s impressive form in dismissing Tang in the quarter-final, hopes had grown that they would put it up to the dominant club in Lake County football over the past decade. Unfortunately, this never materialized, and Paddy Dowdall’s charges were full value for their 14-point win.

The losers’ cause was not helped by the red-carding of Dean McNicholas early in the second half, the talented forward’s second dismissal of the campaign.  However, it is extremely doubtful that the game would have been close even if Tyrrellspass had a full complement of players throughout, as the winners generally opened up the opposition defence at will in a display which copper-fastened their favourites’ tag to regain the trophy named after one of their finest on- and off-the-field servants.

Untypical indecision led to John Heslin spurning a chance from a second-minute free. Both goalkeepers then had to deal with harmless lobs before Danny McCartan neatly put St Loman’s into a lead they never remotely looked like relinquishing. Quick thinking from Heslin teed up his Westmeath colleague Ronan O’Toole for a fisted point in the eighth minute.

The lively Shane Dempsey soon put his side three points clear, before they came close to adding a goal to their tally – Conor Slevin denying Enda Gaffney with a goal-line clearance. Respective freetakers, Heslin and Ger Egan, traded points from 25-metre frees, leaving St Loman’s ahead by 0-4 to 0-1 at the end of the opening quarter.

The men in dark blue jerseys were very much on top and they added three unanswered points between the 20th and 24th minutes, courtesy of a Dempsey brace (the second was a goal attempt after a wonderful delivery by Heslin) and a free from the latter. Ray Sheridan’s troops gave their loyal fans a glimmer of hope with two late points from the boots of Egan (a tricky free) and Denis Glennon (at the end of a somewhat laboured move), sandwiched between which Egan was unable to convert a difficult free or a ‘45’ despite the aid of the wind. At the break, St Loman’s, Mullingar led by 0-7 to 0-3.

Within a minute of the resumption a Heslin ‘mark’ led to an unnecessarily conceded '45', but the hard-working Sam McCartan was unable to convert it. Two minutes later, the referee sent off McNicholas after consulting with his umpires, to add to the woes of the men in sky blue and navy. In the 37th minute, Danny McCartan, Heslin and Eoghan Hogan combined to set up Sean Flanagan for a well-taken goal, thereby all but sealing a place in the final.

Dempsey and O’Toole (now dictating proceedings in his inimitable style) added quality points. The winners then had a rare scare when Kevin Regan prevented the concession of a soft goal, but normal service was resumed with points from Heslin (a very good free), O’Toole (a classy finish), and sub TJ Cox (rounding off a fine move).

There was a total lack of atmosphere at Westmeath GAA headquarters at this juncture. Tyrrellspass, to their credit, battled away manfully and were rewarded with a fine point from hard-working wing back Peter Clarke. O’Toole brought his tally to four points from play in the 56th minute.

In the first minute of added-time, Joe Hyland pulled off a great save from Cox. With the four minutes of injury-time almost elapsed, Nigel Harte pointed for the losers, but the mercurial Cox still had time to wrap up a very impressive win with a delightful goal (when teed up by Sam McCartan).

Scorers – St Loman’s, Mullingar: R O’Toole, S Dempsey 0-4 each, TJ Cox 1-1, J Heslin 0-3 (3f), S Flanagan 1-0, D McCartan 0-1.

Tyrrellspass: G Egan 0-2 (2f), N Harte, P Clarke, D Glennon 0-1 each.

St Loman’s, Mullingar: Jason Daly; Eoghan Hogan, Darragh O’Keeffe, Oisín Hogan; Jack Geoghegan, David Whelan, Kevin Regan; Enda Gaffney, Sean Flanagan; Tristan Graham, Ronan O’Toole Sam McCartan; Danny McCartan, John Heslin, Shane Dempsey. Subs used: TJ Cox for Flanagan (38), Conor O’Donoghue for Geoghegan (48), Kelvin Reilly for Graham (48), Ryan Jones for Regan (55), Seanie Dinnegan for E Hogan (58), Sean Flanagan for Heslin (blood, 60+2).

Tyrrellspass: Joe Hyland; Stephen Quinn, Cormac Monaghan, Jamie Gonoud; Nigel Harte, Conor Slevin, Peter Clarke; Adam Flanagan, Denis Glennon; Aaron O’Brien, Dean McNicholas, Kieran Geraghty; Peter Pierson, David Lynam, Ger Egan. Subs used: Tommy Ryan for Lynam (36), Evan Connell for Pierson (45), Chris Daly for Geraghty (55).

Ref: Barry Nea (Killucan).

Footnote. Prior to the throw-in, a minute’s silence was observed in memory of the late Sean Heavin, a star defender for Moate and Westmeath throughout the 1970s, who was later to serve as a very successful U21 and senior football selector for the county.

Examiner's Eye on game

Man of the match

Shane Dempsey (St Loman’s, Mullingar): Several contenders here as this was a well-balanced display from the championship favourites, but the corner forward took his scores well when the game was still competitive.

Key moment

The dismissal of Dean McNicholas in the 33rd minute all but ended Tyrrellspass’ chances of causing an upset.

Talking point

Many neutrals hoped for a closer contest, but St Loman’s continue to look a cut above the rest of the clubs in the county.

Next up

St Loman’s will meet Coralstown/Kinnegad in this year’s county final.