Whether Tara manager Ger Robinson and his fellow mentors have somebody like renowned statistician and analyst Ray Boyne working with them is unknown. If they have, I would love to be a fly on the wall for the de-brief after last night’s Regional Football Championship semi final against Brian Farrell’s An Tuaisceart at Dunganny.
In this most unusual of encounters, there were more raindrops than scores. Thus, when Blackhall Gaels’ Paul Kelly again demonstrated his keen eye for goal, it was felt that, in such a low-scoring affair, one ‘major’ could swing the verdict either way. Yet despite Kelly’s smashing finish, it was the men from the north of the county who led by 0-06 to 1-00 when referee Derek Ryan called for the ball.
Of those six points, they were delivered courtesy of five different kickers. In contrast, Tara didn’t actually raise their first white flag until there were only ten minutes of normal time remaining. That being registered by Dunsany’s Declan Smyth – one man who has really shone during the new competition.
Thereafter, it was as if both sides again went into hibernation until, perhaps fittingly, it was the impressive Kelly who put the ball across which was palmed to the net by Kilbride’s Jamie McWeeney. You’d have thought, given the sparsity of scores, that raising a second green flag would have sent Tara over the hill.
Not quite. Again, Farrell’s feisty side rallied with Meath Hill’s Cormac Sheehy – who has scored freely throughout this series – seemingly pointed the tie towards extra time. That was until Davy O’Leary gathered a long ball from his Kilbride clubmate Cian Harford before calling the Mark and driving over what transpired to be the winner even though Syddan’s Mark Fedigan had a very late chance to force extra time.
With Tara being the nearest amalgam to yours truly in the Regional Championship, and our own Ger Robinson involved in their management, naturally, they have been the group in which keenest interest was kept in seat.
With that in mind, and with only next Sunday’s Final remaining, it has been hugely uplifting to realise that football in this part of the county is in a rude health.
On foot of that being the case, I would hope and expect to see players such as but not limited to Rian Kealy, Declan Smyth, Pierre Fox, Paul Kelly and Davy O’Leary being afforded the opportunity to don the green and gold in the weeks and months ahead.
FOGRA: Sincere thanks to Dunsany GFC, whose Twitter updates ensured this writer never missed a beat during the tournament so far despite being unable to attend in person.