O’Donnell returns in St Gabriel’s challenge match

Fulham Irish 1-14 vs St Gabriel’s B 0-19
Saturday, August 1, 2015 – Challenge Match

Saturday, August 1 was a key date for Fulham Irish for two reasons. The first was that it was the start of this season’s championship campaign and the second was the long awaited return of Shane O’Donnell, who was named on the bench after being out of action because of an injury which has seen him sidelined for the past two seasons.
Unfortunately, due to a non-appearance of the appointed match official, what was going to be round one of the championship for Fulham Irish and their opposition St Gabriel B’s turned to be a challenge match with both teams nominating to appoint a referee for each half.
A strong breeze entailed as the whistle went to get this match under way with Fulham having the advantage of the breeze, but it was St Gabriel’s who got out of the blocks quicker notching up 3 points on the trot as Fulham struggled to get going.
A Michael Broader point around the 6th minute pulled the score line back to 2 but again St Gabriel’s pulled away with a further 2 points. Then came the skill of Declan Hayes, who in a period of 15 minutes, scored 2 points and more importantly soloed 35 metres to score a goal. He also beat two defenders when soloing with the ball by doing a 360 pivot while controlling the shelter with his hurl upright.
There was a further chance of a goal as Fulham Irish started to take a grip on the game with Mick Harte odds scoring but was pulled back by the Gabriel’s defence.
Tom Kennedy proved pivotal in dealing with Gabriel’s attacks and Frankie Ryan and Colin Smyth sweeping up the breaking ball as both sides spilling the ball on multiple occasions.
Donal Casey added a further 2 points from frees and Fulham Irish went in at half time ahead with a score of 1-07 to 0-8.
Irish rearranged their team as they brought on seven out of the eight subs in the second half including Shane O’Donnell. Fulham started off the brighter with sub Kev McHugh scoring his first point, but Gabriel’s pulled two back. Michael Broader started to boss midfield, interacting with Mick Harte and Kev McHugh to keep the score line ticking.
The Irish brought on their final sub, Jim Nelligen in replace of Declan Hayes as the game was evenly matched.
Shane O’Donnell, despite being rusty, had some magic touches and initiative play with a further 2 points coming from Donal Casey. In the end Gabriel’s just had the edge winning by 2 points.
The match did have some moments of skill and magic from both teams but neither team stood out as the strongest.
Declan Hayes, Michael Broader, Donal Casey, Tom Kennedy, Steve Lee, Nick Harte and Matt Silke all stood out for Fulham.

Fulham Irish: Steve Lee, Brian Hearne, Colin Smyth, Matt Silke, Richie Hannon Tom Kennedy, Frank Ryan, Brian Keane, Michael Broader, Kevin Davy, Michael Harte, Declan Hayes, Eoin McCarthy, Mark Bevans, Donal Casey, Darragh McCarthy, Kevin McHugh, Derry, Fitzgerald, Jim Nelligen, Thomas Gillen, Don O’Connell and Shane O’Donnell.