O’Gorman Cup Preliminary Round: Ennistymon 3-9 Miltown 0-1
This was not a result or a game that will live long in the memory for either side, but it was a significant one nonetheless.
11am on a misty Sunday morning is never where you will find the glamour ties, but this one was all about the fact that competitive football was back for the first time since Covid-19 brought everything to a screeching halt in March. There was also something of an irony towards the end, with everyone wishing Robert Harte’s full-time would come quickly, having waited so eagerly to hear his first one.
The new normal was evident for all to see, as Hennessey Memorial Park was well decked out with signage advising patrons of their responsibilities to help prevent the spread of the virus. The stand played host not only to the handful of spectators, but also to both teams for togging out. There was hand sanitiser provided at the entrance to the pitch, while the new water break ruling was also in play with one called midway through each half.
As an on-field spectacle, the game was largely a disappointment with neither side really close to full strength. In that respect, Ennistymon were closer to the team likely to take on Doonbeg in a few weeks time but Miltown’s lineout will be unrecognisable from this one when they face Kilmurry in the opening round. It was also a first day out for new managers on both sides with Kieran Kelliher and Maurice Reidy having their first competitive action. Both men will know that nothing will be read into this one, with eyes firmly fixed on the August Bank Holiday weekend.
The O’Gorman Cup has always been a competition where clubs have been inclined to give youth its fling, but it was one of the older hands who flourished for Ennistymon. Former county man Joe Dowling continued his sterling service to his club as he proved a constant threat in the inside line, and his early second half goal was a score which really ended the game as any sort of contest.
It could be argued it was over long before that as the North Clare men led 1-6 to 0-0 at the break, with Sean McConigley finding the net at the end of the opening quarter to set the tone for what would follow. His second came just inside the closing quarter and saw Ennistymon’s tally of unanswered scores move to 3-8 before the second half water break.
Miltown’s only score of the game arrived late on when Cian Mahony floated over a 45m free, but the most welcome sound arrived soon after as the game reached the magic 60 minute mark.
O’Gorman Cup Preliminary Round: Kildysart 4-17 Ballyvaughan 1-9
If ever there was an example of a scoreline not fully reflecting the contest which produced it, this was it.
When the second half water break was called with just less than 15 minutes to play, the visitors to the Burren led by 1-11 to 1-7 and a close finish looked to be in store.
From that point until the final whistle, Kildysart outscored their hosts by 3-6 to 0-2 to march on to the last eight but there were plenty encouraging signs for the Killian Malone coached Junior A contenders to reflect on.
It will not take much time on the video analysis to figure out where it all fell apart in the closing stages, as failure to secure possession from their own kickout along with wasteful use of possession was punished in a clinical fashion.
Having managed Lissycasey to win this competition 12 months ago, Ger ‘Bobby’ Kelly rolled back the years to finish with 1-5 from play as he put on an exhibition of shooting in the closing stages. His goal was one of a real poachers instinct when he was on hand to palm home from close range. He was also involved in the build up for his sides fourth goal which was finished clinically by Keith O’Connor to the roof of the net.
Just one point separated the sides when the first water break was called midway through the opening period, with Kildysart holding the upper hand by 0-4 to 0-3. Adrian Nilan kicked the opener but two Conor Hassett frees and good point from play by the lively Diarmuid O’Donnell gave Kildysart a lead they never lost. Nilan and James Hynes scored either side of a fisted effort by Mikey Donnellan, but it was the score that arrived right after the restart which would prove to be critical in putting daylight between the sides.
Ballyvaughan had possession with a sideline kick, but a hopeful cross-field delivery was gathered by Luke McGrath in the Kildysart defence. From there, they broke forward with pace and the final act fell to Hassett who produced a cool finish to slot home. Donnellan, O’Donnell and Hassett all kept the scoreboard ticking until the half-time break, with Jonah Culligan’s free the only reply as Kildysart led 1-7 to 0-4 when the short whistle came.
There was much more attacking intent from the home side when the second half got underway. They were unlucky not to rattle the net as Rob Eyres produced a fine save to deny Phelim Coyne before Cormac McGann flicked over on the turn. The goal did arrive shortly after when substitute John McCormack was on the end of a good team move to leave just three points between the sides.
Three of the next five points came the way of Kildysart to steady the ship, but once Donnellan fired a bullet home to move his side 2-13 to 1-7 clear, it was all one way traffic. Half time substitute Kelly continued his tour de force with some brilliant curling scores and the two late goals put something of a gloss on the final score-line.