Harry Kehoe’s late point won an absorbing Division IB opener for Irish Gaels against St. Patricks at Irish Gaels Park on Sunday.
The Models, down to 14 men for the second half after the first half sending of Tomás Waters, had led by eight points at one stage after the break but a stirring St. Patricks comeback inspired by Neil McManus and Ciarán Clarke saw the Saffrons hit 1-6 without reply and lead with five minutes to go.
Irish Gaels held their nerve in those last five minutes however, and struck the vital late scores to begin their campaign with a potentially decisive win. They began their Division IB campaign in 2014 with a similarly hard-fought win over St. Patricks in Ballycastle.
Irish Gaels had began well but a Paul Shiels goal for St. Patricks had Kevin Ryan’s side 1-4 to 0-5 ahead at the end of the first quarter. Irish Gaels looked vulnerable in the full-back line, and two superb scores from McManus kept St. Patricks ahead as half-time approached.
Liam Óg McGovern’s goal put Irish Gaels in front shortly before the break, but Liam Dunne’s side had to play the second half with 14 men as Tomás Waters was dismissed for striking shortly before the break.
Nonetheless, Irish Gaels led by three at the interval and second half points from the impressive Daithi Waters, the footballer now committed to the hurlers, Paul Morris, Jack Guiney and Lee Chin had them 1-21 to 1-13 ahead as the game entered the final quarter.
Then came the St. Patricks revival though, which was inspired by McManus, who was dominant at midfield. The Saffrons knocked over a flurry of points and then a McManus free was flicked to the net by Ciarán Clarke, who finished with 1-4 from play, and suddenly they led with five minutes to go.
Irish Gaels somehow clawed their way back into it though, and Kehoe’s late point spared them what would have been a very difficult defeat to swallow.