GAA history was made at Croke Park on Saturday night when Fermanagh won its maiden All-Ireland club football title after Lisnaskea were crowned intermediate champions.
The result was a bitter pill for the Connacht champions who were left cursing a legitimate-looking Paul Conroy shot late in normal time which was waved wide by umpires.
For their boss Peter Clarke, the hope is that this win will act as a launchpad for Fermanagh football.
“We knew we had the ticket of a lifetime and the prize of a lifetime and needed the performance of a lifetime and it’s a first breakthrough by a Fermanagh club. I think this will give so much encouragement for other teams and other players about what can be done if the right application and the right preparation and desire and the bit of quality is there. The bit of silk and steel will go a long way.”
After a sluggish start, a brilliant second half display looked like the cup was heading to Galway and the St James’s club — which was only formed in 1994.
St James’ boss Seamus Burke was adamant that a late effort in normal time from Galway senior star Paul Conroy was wrongly waved wide. “I was certain it was over and so was Paul. He walked away from it as if it was over. I said it to the linesman and he wouldn’t call it, but I knew it was over the bar for sure,” he said.
Galway midfielder Conroy gave an outstanding display and was instrumental in hauling St James’ back into a match that looked out of their reach. Daniel Kille starred in a Lisnaskea full-forward line who looked lively and dangerous and who should have been more than 0-6 to 0-4 up at half-time. Two massive Conroy points levelled before the impressive Sean Donnellan and Eoin Concannon followed his lead and pushed the Galway men into a 0-9 to 0-6 lead with 15 minutes to go. Corner back Mark Smyth kicked Lisnaskea’s first point of the second half in the 48 minute – but it ignited the Fermanagh men. Conroy had a free into the Hill 16 end in the 59 minute when St James’ led 0-10 to 0-9 and it looked to have curled in the right side of the near post — but was waved wide.
In their last attack Lisnaskea won a free just beyond midfield which was moved forward for dissent and Daniel Kille boomed over the equaliser.
Lisnaskea raced into a three point lead in extra time – but this titanic tussle twisted again when the Galway men countered and were level at 0-13 apiece at the turnaround.
However, the Fermanagh champions late scores couldn’t be matched.
LISNASKEA: B McGoldrick; M Smyth (0-1), P Collins, K Curran; J Woods (0-1), M McKenna, N McElroy (1-0); B Og Maguire (0-1), C Curran; M Little (0-1), S Carters (0-1), A Little; S Ingram (0-2), P Curran (0-1), D Kille (0-8: 0-4f, 0-1 ‘45’). Subs: R Clancy for A Little 53, D Graham for Smyth ET.
ST JAMES: J Egan; S Coughlan, A Deacy, C Glynn; J Burke, J Duane (0-1 ‘45’), T Walsh; P Conroy (0-4, 3f), M Kelly; M Elwood, E Concannon (0-3), S Donnellan (0-4); R O’Connell (0-1), A O’Donnell (0-1), B Dooney. Subs: S Boyle for Glynn 27, D O’Connell (0-1) for Elwood 44, M McCormack for Dooney ET, A Connolly for Concannon ET.
Referee: P O’Sullivan (Kerry)
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