Borris-Ileigh GAA Club Match Report
Borris-Ileigh vs Loughmore-Castleiney (FBD County Championship Semi Final)
31st October 2021
By Denis Ryan
Borris-Ileigh faced Loughmore in the FBD County Championship semi-final in Semple Stadium on the 31st of October 2021. Borris came into the game having to navigate injuries and suspension with Paddy Stapleton re-entering the fray at full back, Colm Boyle coming in for Kevin Maher and Thomas Fahy deputising for Sean McCormack from the win over Mullinahone. There was a lot of talk post quarter final about Borris’ distribution into the forward line but it was evident from the get go that delivery had more intent and direction to attackers with Conor Kenny stepping up early with a great catch and corresponding finish to open the team’s account. Borris started the game with a high work ethic in the middle of the park and were able to capitalise further when a long ball bypassed three men with JD running on to the ball and showing great footwork to sidestep his marker to finish to the back of the net, a third goal of the competition for the young forward. Jerry Kelly repositioned to the midfield position in part due to the injuries and looked very comfortable in the role getting on a lot of ball and using it well. Borris were able to attain two frees in quick succession, the first free which Brendan Maher stepped up to slot which was quickly followed by Eddie Ryan continuing his fine free taking form for the season with his first of the contest. Borris suffered a big blow near the end of the quarter with Paddy Stapleton landing awkwardly and despite attempts to continue had to be substituted by Tom Ryan Foot. Borris ended the quarter with another Conor point to gain an excellent scoring return of 1-4 for the 1st quarter which was a great way to silence critics and neutralise a Loughmore team who started well against Kilruane. Borris were able to hurry Loughmore’s danger men including the Mcgraths and the half back line only allowing 1 point for LC whilst looking clinical up front with targeted deliveries and efficient shooting. Borris continued their imposing work rate in the second quarter but Loughmore had come to the pace of the game and started to score more freely. Kieran Maher retained his attacking form from the previous match getting to the end of a Conor pass from a Jerry sideline to finish a well worked move to keep Borris’ side of the scoreboard ticking over which was continued when Kieran set up Jerry who finished a tough score to match Loughmores improved scoring play. Borris’ hustling and ruck play didn’t subside as the quarter continued and led to rewards in the form of another Kieran score before Eddie scored his second free of the game. The quarter finished with Eddie working hard to generate a free that he duly finished to give Borris a well deserved advantage at the break on a scoreline of 1-9 to 7 points. There were a few key talking points from the half with one in particular being Loughmore’s ill discipline resulting in Borris men needing medical attention and a real feeling of an uncontrolled game, Borris doing well not to react and focus on negating Loughmore’s attacking threat at source with high work rate from all involved and in particular the forward line. Borris did extremely well to minimise the absences with Jerry Kelly in midfield, Kieran Maher in the half forward line and Conor Kenny roaming standouts.
Borris had to navigate an increasing wind in the third quarter of the game which played a part in less clear cut chances being created and the team needing to rely on super scores, first by JD who ran down the old stand side using his allocated catches before hitting off his left side for a great score. Eddie then stepped up with a tough 65 from beside the sideline to keep Borris at arm’s length from their opponents as the weather became inconsistent and tough for all players. Loughmore were able to tick away at the scoreboard as John McGrath came more into the game despite a titanic tussle with Seamie Burke through frees. Eddie was able to relieve some pressure with free 4 from a Conor catch before Jerry continued the theme of super scores with a wonderful sideline cut to make the score 1-13 to 11 points deep into the quarter. Loughmore were able to get on more ball though and set up a fantastic chance that was smothered full body by James McCormack in a great piece of goalkeeping but Loughmore were able to claim a point from the action as the water break arrived on a scoreline of 1-13 to 12 points. Borris struggled to get out of their own half in the quarter with the wind playing a part but Loughmore commiting more bodies to rucks and high ball contests to claim possession and use their football background to play through the lines and set up chances emphasised by the goal chance with more to follow. Loughmore came out for the 4th quarter and dominated from the get go taking confidence from the end of the 3rd, the mid team scoring 5 points without reply to take a slender lead. Loughmore were now going from strength to strength whilst Borris were starting to empty their bench, Bill O’Connell replacing Tomas Foot and Jody Harkin replacing Thomas Fahy in the period. Loughmore were now being led by John and Noel McGrath who orchestrated further points with the support of a dangerous inside line to take a 2 point lead before they earned a well deserved penalty. John McGrath gave Sticks no chance with a bottom corner finish to really take control of proceedings, Borris going down to 14 men for a second yellow card as the game was slipping away aswell as time on the clock. Borris to their credit came back and through Eddie Ryan free and a JD score, made it a one score game with mere minutes remaining. Borris needed a goal to force extra time but Loughmore were able to bunker down and smother any clear cut chances as the final whistle blew on a rollercoaster of a game and Loughmore running out victors on a scoreline of 1-18 to 1-15.
Borris came into this game as big outsiders for the championship but showed in the first half in particular the potential of the team despite the suspensions and injuries. They played more directed ball to a dangerous forward line and started and maintained a rabid work rate. Loughmore were very ill disciplined in the first half and lucky to avoid reprimand but showed their experience and class in the second half, staying in the game long enough to then take the ascendency in the 4th quarter. Borris showed a great blend of scoring tough opportunities and also showed a clinical edge at times making others look easy but sadly were overwhelmed in the final quarter. Jerry Kelly deserves credit for making a transition to midfield look effortless, Conor Kenny and JD led the attacking group from a scoring point of view and Kieran Maher continued his blend of work rate and scoring in a comeback season for the wing forward. Borris were well marshalled in the back line by Dan and Brendan and Seamie Burke continued his form with another cracking man marking performance on John McGrath. Borris will rue injuries both pre game and during game as factors but Loughmore are a quality outfit to beat even on top form. Commiserations to players and staff but also the commitment, togetherness and quality were clear to see throughout the season and could never be faulted. It was a season that yielded silverware in the league, there has been an emergence of young talent in the likes of Eddie Ryan and Colm Boyle and a County Semi Final despite a tough group and plenty to build on for 2022.
Team and Scorers:
Seamus Burke, Paddy Stapleton, Liam Ryan (C)
Colm Boyle, Dan McCormack, Ray McCormack
Thomas Fahy, Brendan Maher (0-01(0-01f))
Niall Kenny, Jerry Kelly (0-02), Kieran Maher (0-02)
Eddie Ryan (0-06 (0-05fs) (0-01 '65), Conor Kenny (0-02), James “JD” Devaney (1-2)
Tomas Ryan for Paddy Stapleton
Bill O’Connell for Tomas Ryan
Jody Harkin for Thomas Fahy