Mighty Mac spurs Crossmolina

Crossmolina 1-11

Another “man of the match” performance from centre-forward Ciaran McDonald set up his side for this glittering triumph. However, Crossmolina were the first to admit that Strokestown made them work every inch of the way in a smashing shoot-out.

Making their inaugural appearance in a Connacht decider, Roscommon champions Strokestown fought gamely but in the final analysis lacked the skill to put one over on Crossmolina.

On a water-logged surface and with a gale-force wind blowing across the field, Strokestown played with tremendous heart and endeavour. But they learned to their cost that there is no substitute for sheer class, exemplified in this case by Crossmolina’s blonde-bombshell McDonald.

He ran this game on his own terms. He scored six points, two from play, but it was his absolute skill on the ball and play-making expertise that marked him out from those around him.

Early on, with McDonald playing at the peak of his powers, it looked as if Crossmolina would hammer their opponents. But four wides in the opening five minutes, followed by superb save from goalkeeper Donal Hanly, gave Strokestown cause for hope.

Crossmolina eventually broke the deadlock with a fisted point from left corner forward Paul McGuinness in the 14th minute, the only score in the opening quarter.

The sides were subsequently level on two occasions before the 2000 All Ireland Champions struck with a vengeance on the stroke of half time.

Wing forward Michael Moyles, receiving from McGuinness, lobbed over a high centre which was excellently fielded and clinically finished to the net by Moffatt.

It was then that the audience of 4,000 saw the first real glimpse of Strokestown’s character. Shrugging off the disappointment, Strokestown gallantly came back to level the game by the interval with three points in rapid succession from Conor Silke, Luke Dolan and wing back Emmett Collins.

The scene looked set for a ding- dong struggle after the resumption but before Strokestown could settle, Crossmolina stamped their authority with three lighting-fast points, two from McDonald and the other from midfielder Gabriel Wals.

Once again it looked as if Crossmolina were set to put daylight between the sides. But when the chips were down, Strokestown rose to the challenge in brilliant fashion and clawed their way back to level terms with three pointed frees from full forward Luke Dolan.

The former inter-county player had six successful conversions in all and also added another point from ’45.

Then McDonald lofted over two points, one from a free, and both Mossatt and right half back Peadar Gardiner added two more. Crossmolina were now leading by four points with four minutes of normal time remaining.

But with great resilience Strokestown refused to surrender and Dolan pointed another free to leave a goal between them.

Stokestown’s bravehearts were finally broken two minutes into injury time when following a fabulous sweeping movement involving five players, Liam Mossatt kicked over the insurance point for Crossmolina.

Crossmolina scorers: L Moffatt 1-2, C McDonald 0-6 (0-2 frees) P McGuinness, G Walsh, P Gardiner 0-1 each.

Strokestown : L Dolan 0-7 (0-6 frees; 0-1 ‘45) E Collins, C Silke, R Owens 0-1 each.

CROSSMOLINA: B Heffernan, S Rochford, T Nallen, C O’Reilly, P Gardiner, D Mulligan, G O’Malley, G Walsh, J Nallen, M Moyles, C McDonald, E Lavelle, L Moffatt, J Keane, P McGuinness; Sub N Convey for Moyles.

STROKESTOWN: D Hanley, D Cassidy, R Dolan, A Cassidy, D Donlon, M Beirne, E Collins, R Owens, D Hagan, S Flaherty, P McGinley, J Rogers, K J Dolan, L Dolan, C Silke; Subs: L Shiel for McGinley, N Owens for R Dolan, K Bosquette for KJ Dolan, R Shiel for Hagan.

Referee: E Stenson (Leitrim).

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