Mount Sion 1-17 De La Salle 1-8
County champions De La Salle were brought crashing back to earth by a re-invigorated Mount Sion in the second match in Walsh Park last Sunday. Despite fielding without the hamstrung Ken McGrath, Mount Sion proved much too strong for the All-Ireland finalists who will have to improve greatly if they are to hold on to their crown.
Mount Sion showed their intentions straight from the throw-in and two points in as many minutes from teenagers Brian Cusack and Ian Galgey gave them the early advantage.
De La Salle’s early response was a 65-yard free from Bryan Phelan, showing no ill-effects from the knee injury picked up in their march to the All-Ireland decider.
Between the 10th and 13th minute Mount Sion added three more points through two Martin O’Neill frees and a splendid point from county minor dual-star Ian Galgey.
De La Salle responded with a John Mullane point from play. Mount Sion took over completely after that and Sean Ryan scored two points from play added to one from centre-forward Ross O’Keeffe. This left Mount Sion leading by nine points to two after 20 minutes of play.
In the 21st minute, John Mullane burst through the Mount Sion defence and despite having a chance of a goal himself, he unselfishly hand-passed to the unmarked Dean Twomey, who turned to his left hand side and rattled an unstoppable shot to the roof of the Mount Sion net from an acute angle.
The large crowd waited for the champion’s fightback but all they got were more Mount Sion scores. Martin O’Neill scored a 65 before we got the score of the day from the majestic Tony Browne.
The veteran half-back plucked a long clearance from the sky above the head of John Mullane before sending it over Steven Brenner’s crossbar from all of 80 yards. Thirty seconds later, Jason Phelan scored his first point in Mount Sion colours following his transfer from Dunhill.
De La Salle moved Bryan Phelan to centre back and Kevin Moran to midfield. With regular free taker Phelan now ensconced in defence, John Mullane was forced to take over the free taking duties. On 30 minutes he scored his first free of the game.
Ian Galgey grabbed his third point of the half before John Mullane got the final point of the half from a close range free.
De La Salle reshuffled their team at the start of the second half in an effort to gain a foothold in the game. Darren Russell went back to full-back, Ian Flynn moved out to centre-back and Bryan Phelan was shifted over to wing-back.
The second half started as the first one ended, with a Mullane point before Jason Phelan grabbed his second of the game.
In the 37th minute, Martin O’Neill received a pass form Paul Hammond, rounded Michael Doherty and fired a great shot past Steven Brenner in the De La Salle goal. This gave Mount Sion a nine-point lead and the monastery men looked home and hosed.
For over 20 minutes after O’Neill’s goal, the teams failed to produce a single score from play. De La Salle frees from Mullane and Phelan were cancelled out by two Martin O’Neill placed balls. De La Salle were attempting to break through for goals but the Mount Sion defence held firm.
With three minutes to go, John Mullane scored a point from play before an injury time score from the winners’ centre-forward Ross O’Keeffe closed the scoring on a day of redemption for the Monastery men.
For the large attendance who were expecting a classic this was a disappointing game and very one-sided from an early stage. De La Salle failed to recover from the chastening experience of Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day and Mount Sion capitalised.
Ian O’Regan had a relatively quiet afternoon that I’m sure he wasn’t expecting. New full-back Michael Gaffney acquitted himself quite well on no less a player than John Mullane. Kevin Flynn, one of the unsung heroes of this Mount Sion team, was steady and unspectacular at corner-back.
Once again it was an honour and a privilege to witness the sheer hurling artistry of Tony Browne. He truly is one of the greats of the modern game and we should make an effort to watch him play as often as we can. Believe it or not, he will not play forever!
Eoin McGrath put in another good shift at midfield and five times he blocked down De La Salle players. Sometimes this part of McGrath’s game is overlooked but is just as important as spectacular scores.
Most Mount Sion supporters will have left Walsh Park excited by the emergence of some real firepower in their forward line. Ian Galgey and Martin O’Neill have been mentioned as ones for the future but their performances on Sunday showed that they are also players for the present.
Sunday is a day that De La Salle would rather forget but on the afternoon their best performers were Kevin Moran, John Mullane and Conan Watt.
Mount Sion: I O’Regan, I Power, M Gaffney, K Flynn, T Browne, E Whelan, C Ryan, P Hammond, E McGrath, B Cusack, R O’Keeffe, J Phelan, M O’Neill, S Ryan, I Galgey Subs: K Stafford for E Whelan, J O’Meara for B Cusack, J Cleere for M O’Neill Scorers: M O’Neill 1-5 (0-4f 0-1 65), S Ryan 0-3, I Galgey 0-3, R O’Keeffe 0-2, J Phelan 0-2, B Cusack 0-1, T Browne 0-1
De La Salle: S Brenner, P Kennedy, I Flynn, M Doherty, D Russell, K Moran, S Daniels, C Watt, B Phelan, A O’Neill, B Farrell, P Nevin, D Twomey, J Mullane, S Richardson Subs: E Barrett for A O’Neill, D McGrath for S Richardson, A Kelly for S Daniels, J Foran for D Twomey Scorers: J Mullane 0-6 (0-3 f) B Phelan 0-2 f, D Twomey 1-0.