Réalt Dearg 'A' 2-18 v 2-13 St. Jude's
We're talking about a county final!!
History was made on Sunday when Réalt Dearg deservedly qualified for their first county final. All roads led to Drimnagh Castle on a morning when the Irish summer finally decided to show itself on its last weekend. The excitement of the big occasion caused all sorts of entertainment - even supporters lost the run of themselves - Leon's encounter with a tree in the car-park in his haste to get into the ground was a foretaste of the incredible physical intensity that was to come out on the field. Leon's hapless window may have lost its structural integrity but it was the only thing RD-related to do so as the men in black and red refused to buckle or fold throughout an encounter which was a perfect advertisement for all that's great about our most ancient of games.
In sweltering conditions, the game started at a ferocious pace that continued unabated for the 70 plus minutes of action. The opening exchanges were full of fire and brimstone with space around the middle third at a premium. While the Stars were beginning to get on top, they were rocked by an early goal from the Judes men that was somewhat against the run of play to that point. But the RD men are made of stern stuff. Frank Farrell steadied the ship with some good frees before Gary Hurney's selfless running and layoff opened up the Judes defense. Farrell made no mistake in rattling the net and the RD machine was starting to motor. Excellent, intelligent link-play and teamwork led to further scores from Farrell and Kevin Ryan but the Judes men were matching the challenge . After a breathless opening period, the minimum separated the teams at the interval - RD led 1-7 to 1-6. The first half was marked by phenomenal workrate from the home side with the Réalt Dearg men constantly flummoxing their opponents with hooks, blocks and big tackles when required. This was epitomised on many occasions by Colm Gahan literally throwing himself into challenge after challenge to thwart their usually influential centre-back.
On the changeover, it was the Stars turn to get the early goal with Kev Ryan succeeding in finding the net from fully thirty yards with a low shot that took advantage of local knowledge of the bobbly surface...! Réalt Dearg were beginning to get on top and Farrell extended the lead from frees won as a result of sheer hard work and effort, particularly from the midfield pairing of Paul Warren and Eoin O'Dwyer. Indeed, Warren got on the scoresheet himself when intelligently set up by Farrell having took up an excellent position on the 40'. RD's greater hunger was shown when Martin Murphy (the Clare version) split the posts despite having two Judes men on his back.Whatever about his goal which opened the second half scoring, Kev Ryan's over the shoulder point from far out on the sideline was a phenomenal effort and was good enough to grace Thurles or Croke Park, showcasing the talent that was on show in Drimnagh Castle in this semi final.
But Judes' are among the aristocrats of Dublin GAA, a reputation hard-won in many battles over the years and were not going to lie down and die. They thundered back into the game with some good scores but in hindsight may regret opting to take a point from a penalty while going well. Despite Jude's good spell, the Stars continued to defend manfully with the half-back line of Maheraj, Hester and Cormican emerging with possession from the ground battles on numerous occasions. RD also kept the scorekeeper busy with Gary Hurney being rewarded for his industry and Kev Ryan profiting from good play from Farrell. Judes still weren't finished and got through for a well taken goal to make for a nervous final few minutes. However, the story of Réalt Dearg's 5-year journey was told with the final score of the day when John Tarpey combined with Eoin O'Dwyer for the Ginja Ninja to ensure RD's place in the final - a score forged on the fields of Monaleen but finished on the green sward of Drimnagh Castle.
This game was won though the hard-work and determination shown throughout the game by a hungry and phenomenally fit Réalt Dearg team. Going shoulder to shoulder with one of the heavyweight clubs of the Dublin GAA family did not faze what is one of its youngest members. A different challenge awaits the Stars in two weeks when Skerries Harps will be the opposition...but what a challenge it will be. Preparing for a big final in September...oh what a great time this is!
As astra per aspera...let's reach for the Stars!
Réalt Dearg: Gary Thompson, Ultan Dillon, Trevor Jackman, Mike Richarsdon, Conor Maheraj, Cathal Hester, Kevin Cormican, Paul Warren, Eoin O'Dwyer, Martin Murphy (Clare), Colm Gahan, Kevin Ryan, Cian Liddy, Frank Farrell, Gary Hurney.
Subs: John Tarpey, Martin Murphy (Kilkenny), Brian Gavin, Niall Mullane
Derek McKenna, Kieran Kelly, Stephen Casey, Conor O'Droma, Ronan Moloney, Kevin Deady, Eoin Fingleton, Matt Lynch, James Kenny, Marc MacLiam