By Peter O’Connell
St Joseph’ Miltown 3-15
A YEAR after losing their senior status for the first time, Miltown Malbay is again home to a senior club. The club regained their status with a fluent, attacking display of open football, which cut through Kilmihil, particularly in the second half.
Yet there is a but – a big one. The injury-time dismissal of Graham Kelly, on a straight red, cast an unwarranted shadow over his side’s display. Ironically, he had played with discipline and control up to that point. Kelly was red-carded following an incident with Mark Coughlan, while the
Miltown centre-back also became embroiled in a short altercation with Mark O’Connell seconds later. Miltown were 12 points up and less than a minute of normal time remained when Kelly was dismissed.
The only other card issued by referee Pat Cosgrove was a yellow to Kilmihil midfielder Timmy Ryan. Aside from the red card, the game was devoid of rancour or tension.
Play resumed after an approximate two-minute stoppage, before the Kilmihil management gathered their players in a momentary huddle. It seemed as if Kilmihil were on the point of leaving the field before the game had finished. However, after a short consultation, Kilmihil returned to their positions and the game concluded about three minutes later.
What should not be ignored is the fact that it was Miltown’s youngsters who did the business for their club. Conor Cleary and Darragh McDonagh dominated at midfield, while Seanie Malone and Eoin Cleary were superb in attack. Defensively, Miltown were solid and kept Kilmihil danger men, David Ryan and Martin O’Leary, under wraps.
Kilmihil actually settled impressively into the game and were tied 0-3 apiece with Miltown after 15 minutes. Miltown had levelled with a lovely Eoin Curtin point, set up by an astute Conor Cleary pass.
Four minutes before that, Martin O’Leary sped away from Enda Malone to point Kilmihil’s third score, which could have been a goal. Kilmihil were somewhat unlucky with another goal effort just before half-time, when Mark O’Connell burst through after an O’Leary pass. However, the Kilmihil centre-back’s rising shot went over the bar. He had earlier pointed a superb left-footed score after Timmy Ryan had caught an Eoin Downes kick-out.
The game’s most critical score was netted by Kevin Keavey four minutes before half-time. The goal was created by a Conor Cleary run and helped establish a 1-6 to 0-4 lead for the winners.
Kilmihil had reduced the five-point gap to three by the interval, when Miltown led 1-7 to 0-7.
On the resumption, Kilmihil won the throw-in, David Ryan was fouled and Shane Egan tapped over the free. Five minutes later, with two points still dividing the teams, Martin O’Leary kicked a free wide after Egan had been fouled. Although there was 25 minutes left on the clock, Kilmihil only added a single point thereafter. Miltown outscored them 2-8 to 0-1 in that period of play.
Kilmihil had deployed Stan Lineen as an extra defender from midway through the first half, while Enda O’Gorman was often Miltown’s spare man at the opposite side.
However, the further they fell behind, the more Kilmihil had to attack and leave space in front of their under-pressure full-back line. The Cleary brothers and Seanie Malone revelled in the space afforded to them, while substitute Micheál Malone tagged on 1-1 from play.
Brian Curtin buried Miltown’s second goal 10 minutes from time with a calm finish. That goal put the winners 2-15 to 0-9 up and secured the win.
While Kelly’s red card definitely took somewhat from Miltown’s win, it shouldn’t detract from their hour-long display. They were simply too mobile and free scoring for Kilmihil, although Mark O’Connell and Laurence Murray offered defiant and passionate resistance.
That wasn’t enough to hold Miltown at bay, as their new generation led them back to the premier echelon of Clare club football. Perhaps Kilmihil might have gone a bit more defensive in a similar vein to Corofin, whom Miltown beat 0-6 to 0-3 in the semi-final.
It won’t be easy but Kilmihil have it within themselves to rise again and somehow use their successive intermediate-final defeats to inspire them in 2014.
Miltown will be back in action on Sunday, November 3, when they are away to the Limerick champions in the first round of the Munster Intermediate Championship.
Miltown: Niall Quinn; Shane Curtin, Gordon Kelly, Enda Malone; Enda O’Gorman, Graham Kelly, Gearóid Curtin; Conor Cleary, Darragh McDonagh; Kevin Keavey, Joe Curtin, Brian Curtin; Eoin Curtin (captain), Eoin Cleary, Seanie Malone.
Subs: Ian Sexton for Shane Curtin, Micheál Malone for Joe Curtin, Michael Barry for Eoin Curtin, Enda Fox for Kevin Keavey and Brendan O’Brien for Enda O’Gorman.
Scorers: Eoin Cleary (0-5, 2f), Seanie Malone (0-4), Micheál Malone (1-1), Conor Cleary (0-3, 1f), Kevin Keavey, Brian Curtin (1-0 each), Eoin Curtin and Gearóid Curtin (0-1 each).
Frees: 25; wides: 6; 45s: 3.
Red card: Graham Kelly.
Kilmihil: Eoin Downes; Laurence Murray, Johnny Sullivan, Derek O’Connell; Jack Browne, Mark O’Connell, Anthony Downes; Timmy Ryan (captain), Niall Pender; Declan Downes, Mark Coughlan, David Ryan; Martin O’Leary, Stan Lineen, Shane Egan.
Subs: Philip Ryan for Declan Downes, Allyn Dalton for Johnny Sullivan, Colm Callinan for Shane Egan, Stephen Coughlan for Stan Lineen and Seán King for Niall Pender.
Scorers: Mark O’Connell (0-2), Shane Egan, Martin O’Leary (0-2, 1f each), David Ryan (0-2f) and Declan Downes (0-1).
Frees: 26; wides: 6; 45s: 0.
Yellow card: Timmy Ryan.
Referee: Pat Cosgrove, Corofin.