Jude’s Pay Heavy Price to Get Past Skerries

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St Jude’s: 2-17 – 0-7 Skerries Harps

While last minute preparations were being made during the week, it’s unlikely that either team envisaged the conditions that would greet them in Naul on Friday evening.

Heavy sod and slick grass lead to several players slipping and passes going astray in the opening minutes.

When the game began to settle down, it became apparent that both teams were trying to play a similar style of game.

Both sides had big men in the middle contesting kick outs, while both half forward and half back lines attacked and defended en masse. Both sides kept great width for the entire match and were patient in their build up.

The key difference between the teams was Judes’ ability to carry the ball from their defence to midfield and feed their inside forwards at pace.

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Jude’s moved forward en masse

Skerries’ attacks were often slow and laboured. This was surprising, given that Harry Dawson was often isolated on Paul Cunningham, a scenario in which you’d have to imagine Dawson would have fancied himself to exploit. The slow nature of Skerries’ build up play, however, allowed Judes to funnel men back in front of Dawson and the pacey Stephen Smith.

Niall Coakley, Kevin McManamon and Declan Donnelly on the other hand, had the luxury of fast ball played into space in front of them, which they gladly converted into scores.

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Dawson would have fancied a some quick ball in this space

Jude’s began to build their lead from early on. Seven different scorers from play in the opening half were testament to their threat both up front, and from deep. Skerries’ defensive woes were compounded by their policy of playing slow kick outs to their half back line, a bad idea at the best of times, as illustrated by our Zonal Kick-out Analysis. With the weather as it was, this lead directly to five Judes points.

With the score-line reading eleven points to two at half time, Skerries’ keeper Shane Davis having converted a 65 to go along with Dawson’s 7th minute effort, Skerries had a mountain of work to do.

Their situation worsened in the 31st minute when Colin Daly was shown a second yellow for a high tackle.

Now with an extra man, and playing down the infamous Naul hill, Judes continued to dominate. The heavy ground and slippy conditions suited the powerfully built Colm Murphy and Seamus Ryan at midfield, where they were able to launch fast paced attacks. The Judes forwards kept width very well, before coming in off the wings with pace and purpose to combine for 2-5 in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

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Paul Copeland had less to do than Dawson would have liked

Their opening goal was almost comical, as it bounced off defenders, forwards, and the wood work before Coakley finally converted. Donnelly’s effort in the 45th minute was far more emphatic and gave the scoreboard a thoroughly one sided complexion.

Ironically, despite the win, the night would end up with a net loss regarding Judes’ chances of wining the championship. They would have to play the last ten minutes with thirteen men.

Firstly, McMenamon saw red for what undoubtedly qualified in the rule book as “kicking or attempting to kick, with minimal force” on Jack Smith. One can only assume that something was said to McMenamon as the two jogged back into position, while Skerries prepared for a 45 or so yard free.

Nothing more a couple of fairly standard “how are ya doing” shoulders were traded between the two before, within the momentum of his jogging stride, without lifting his foot back, McMenamon toe poked Smith in the ankle.

It certainly wasn’t a “strike” that would warrant a physio’s attention, but within the confines of the rules, the linesman, who saw it, was one hundred percent correct to instruct the referee to send McMenamon off.

If Jude’s could have a genuine complaint it was that Seamus Ryan, alone, would subsequently get the line for an incident with Harry Dawson where it was difficult to see how Dawson was any less guilty than Ryan, who undoubtedly deserved his red.

The scores started to dry up after this as Jude’s closed out the match. Skerries, to their credit, kept going until the end. Stephen Smith looked threatening anytime he got the ball, but the conditions really didn’t suit the light and pacey forward.

There were a lot of positives for Jude’s on the night, all six forwards and both midfielders scoring from play is a notable occurrence.

But the two sendings off as well as Chris Guckian limping off after 47 minutes, will give them food for thought going into the quarter finals.

St Judes: Paul Copeland, Ciarán Fitzpatrick, Paul Cunningham, Rob Martina, Tom Lahiff, (0-1) Chris Guckian, Niall O’Shea, Colm Murphy, (0-2) Séamus Ryan, (0-1) M Sweeney, (0-1) R O’Brien, (0-1) R Joyce, (0-1) N Coakly, (1-3)  K McMenamon, (0-3 2f) Declan Donnelly, (1-3 1f) Billy Sheehan (O’Shea 41) Paul Courtney(0-1) (O’Brien 41) Cillian O’Reilly (Guckian 47) Oisín Manning (Donnelly 56)

Skerries Harps: Shane Davis, (0-2) Dylan MacNamee, Ross McGarry, Eoghan McGinley, Jack Smith, Bryan Cullen, Conor O’Brien, Mark Boylan, Donal McIllgorm, Seán Rocks, Colin Daly, Kevin Gilmore, Harry Dawson, (0-3) Stephen Smith, (0-1 1f) Gerry Daly Subs : Kevin Dalton ( Rocks 16) Tommy Ryan ( MacNamee black card 25) Paul Cashman ( G Daly 40) Oisín O’Reilly (Dawson 54) Barry Davey(0-1) (O’Brien 40)

By Conor Dunne