St. Breckans got their 2016 Clare Senior Football Championship run off to the best possible start with a five point win over Kilrush Shamrocks.
St Breckans 1-14
Kilrush Shamrocks 1-09
Venue: Miltown Malbay
By Sean Harrington
Poor conditions made the going difficult for both sides and guaranteed the tie was far from an exhibition of football. This was compounded by the fact both teams decided to use sweeper tactics with Kilrush having more than 12 men behind the ball at some stages of the first half. Their counter attacking efforts troubled the loose marking St. Breckans defenders but Kilrush were unable to capitalise, kicking six wides in the first half.
The Lisdoonvarna men started brightly playing onto the breeze and were leading 0-02 0-01 after 5 minutes with points from Conor Cormican and Alan Sweeney and a pointed free from Kilrush corner forward Liam Madigan. Kilrush took control for the next twenty five minutes with Breckans not registering a score until the final minute of the half.
Mathew Maloney asserted himself at centre back for the Shams although was lucky to stay on the field after a foul on Liam Teirney which could have warranted a black card but referee Micheal Talty deemed it a yellow.
In the ninth minute Gearoid O Brien kicked an inspirational free from the side-line just inside the 45 to level things at two points apeice. Moments later O’ Brien had a great chance to rattle the net for Kilrush after Breckans keeper Craig Flanagans short kick out found him free just outside the 21 metre line. O’ Brien opted to shoot to an empty net from distance but the ball skidded past the left hand upright.
A great pass from John Hayes set up Liam Madigan for a fine point in the fourteenth minute. Both teams enjoyed periods of possession with Kilrush seeming to take advantage of the Spa men’s poor marking. Ruadhri O’ Connor and Cathal Carrig pointed for Kilrush just before the break and a pointed free from Cormican left the score at 0-05 0-03 in favour of Kilrush at half-time.
St. Breckans came out for the second half a different outfit and gave an exhibition of football for the third quarter. County Minor, Joe McGann was introduced along with Maccon Byrne. The advantage of the breeze allowed Dale Masterson to get forward having been a free man around the half back line for the first half.
Straight away the Spa men’s’ secret weapon McGann set up Aiden Davidson for a fine score before winning a free on the 45 and his quick thinking found Masterson who slotted over to put the sides on level terms with thirty three minutes on the clock.
Masterson was enjoying his new attacking role and Aiden Davidson was now finding space and both kicked points in the space of two minutes to put the North Clare men in front.The introduction Of McGann also shored up the advances of impressive Cathal Carrig. Conor Cormican latched onto the end of a Stephen Tierney pass to point followed by another superb point by Davidson.
In the fortieth minute Liam Tierney fielded well on the edge of the square before being fouled by Calum Bond in the square. Davidson slotted home the penalty and the first goal of the game to the delight of Breckans’ new manager Brian Conway. The evergreen Peter Pan like, Dennis O Driscoll set up Davidson for his third point with fifteen minutes remaining.
Kilrush were shell shocked- having let a two point advantage slip to find themselves eight points in arrears. However the Shamrocks showed great fighting spirit and did manage to get within three points of the Spa men before full time. Masterson pointed again in the while Cathal Carrig kicked two fine frees before Mathew Maloney had the Breckans coaching staff sweating.
His long range pointed effort seemed to come of his boot and after some indecision between Craig Flanagan in goal and Padraig Lacey the ball bounced in the square and found the back of the net to leave four points between the sides with time running out
Kilrush enjoyed a good period of pressure but having committed so many forward Stephen Tierney took advantage and scored a fine point from forty metres. Cathal Carrig pointed another free with Ruadhri O’ Connor scoring a fisted point off a high ball as Kilrush upped their search for a goal.
From the resulting kick out Conor Cormican collected on his own 21 metre line and made a sensational run all the way to the Kilrush 45 before laying off to Stephen Tierrney who slotted over.
Cormican pointed again from a free in injury time to leave a final score of Kilrush 1-9 St. Breckans 1-14.
Both teams have a lot of work to do if they are to be competitive come the business end. Breckans will be delighted to start with a win but Kilrush will also regret their missed opportunities and will be no easy opposition in the second round. Their fitness may come into question which is understandable as packing the defence and counter attacking expends a lot of energy. St. Breckans’ defence on the other hand was very much unorganised allowing Kilrush lots of free men when on the ball. The Micky Keating captained side have many issues to address.
St. Breckans: Craig Flanagan, Evan Barret, Daniel Carey, Stephen Nagle, Mikey Keating, Stephen Teirney(0-2), Padraig Lacey, Conor Cormican(0-4), Liam Teirney, Alan Sweeney, Denis O’ Driscoll, John Stack, Aiden Davidson(1-3), Cathal Guerin, Dale Masterson(0-3). Subs: Maccon Byrne for Carey, 15 minutes, Joe McGann(0-1) for Stack, HT.
Kilrush: Thomas Maloney, Niall Gilbride, Callum Bond, Donagh Healy, Cathal Carrig(0-3), Mathew Maloney(1-0), John Hayes, Darragh Bolton, Sean Madigan, Niall Clancy, Ruadhri O’ Connor(0-2), John Kelliher, Liam Madigan(0-2), Owen Tarrant, Gearoid O’ Brien(0-2).
Referee: Michael Talty (Kilmurry/Ibrickane)