City U21 A Football Championship

Kildimo/Pallaskenry 6-17 Crecora/Manister 1-8

Our U-21 footballers opened their Championship campaign with a victory over Crecora/Manister on a cold bank holiday Monday in Kildimo. This is a side which has a nice blend of players from our County-winning minor team and our County-winning junior team, and they combined nicely to deliver a good display of attacking football. We had eight different scorers and 6-14 of our tally from open play, while keeping the scores down at the other end.

Crecora Manister hit the front with an early pointed free, but we then rattled off three scores in a row. Darren O’Connell and Lorcan O’Leary linked up nicely, with Darren popping the ball over the bar before Conor Staff fired over a point from play. Darren then converted a free before our opponents got their second score of the game. However, we would then hit four scores without reply and these scores were very important in the overall context of the game as we opened up a lead and set the tone for the remainder of the match. Lorcan O’Leary won an opposition kickout and then set Darren free, who buried the ball to the back of the net. Shortly after, Darren raised his second green flag: Kyle Hayes carried the ball forward before releasing Darren, who again, made no mistake. Kyle then got two scores of his own; the first after winning a kickout and thundering through on goal, the second a clever fisted effort from the angle.

We led 2-5 to 0-2 but Crecora Manister rallied, and fired over the next three points on the trot to cut the gap to just the two goals. But our midfield dominance through the likes of Kyle, Lorcan and Cathal Downes gave us the platform to feed our dangerous forwards, and the likes of Conor Staff were working well as linkmen. Lorcan O’Leary was next to get on the scoreboard with a point, before a strong run through the middle from Liam O’Sullivan saw him slam the ball past the goalkeeper for our third goal. Adam Butler had been very lively inside with his movement, and he was next to get on the scoresheet with a nice point. Crecora then hit their last point of the half but we finished the first half strongly: a brilliant run by Cathal Downes was matched only by the brilliant finish, across the goalkeeper and right into the bottom corner, an unstoppable shot. Adam Butler then roasted his marker in the corner and swung over a lovely point with his right foot to leave the half-time score at: Kildimo/Pallaskenry 4-8 Crecora/Manister 0-6.

We didn’t begin the second half at quite the same pace and it took a while to really get going again, but Adam was a constant threat in the full-forward line and he picked off our first two scores of the half, either side of a point from Crecora Manister. Cathal Downes was then very alert to intercept a loose pass in the opposition backline and he carried the ball, and popped it over the bar. Crecora Manister then struck another score, but at this point, we wrested back control of the game and would keep our opponents scoreless until the final minutes. In that second half, Cathal Downes thoroughly stamped his authority on the game, dominating the skies and delivering a very impressive performance for such a young player. Darren had hit 2-3 from play in the first half, but it was Adam Butler who did the majority of the scoring in the second half while our backs really got on top also, with Luke O’Keeffe in particular winning a number of turnovers when Crecora Manister did have a foray in our territory. Jamie Hickey was a constant safe pair of hands and an organiser between the sticks, keeping his backline on their toes.

A brilliant catch by Cathal set Liam O’Sullivan away again, and Liam again made no mistake, burying his second goal of the game. Cathal then popped over a close-range free, before a strong run from Conor Staff saw him finish a point with his left foot. Adam then struck a sweet score from play, his fifth of the game and we kicked for home. Paudi Hartigan had replaced Darren O’Connell at half-time and he also raised a green flag, as he was quickest to react after a shot had come back off the upright. Conor Staff rounded off our scoring with a close-range free before our opponents hit a late goal. Overall, it was a fine performance and a good start to the campaign on what was a very cold afternoon. There are matches against Claughaun and St. Pat’s to come, but hopefully we can book a place in the City Final and see where the Championship takes us after that.

Team: Jamie Hickey; James Pomeroy, Evan Carroll, Jack Mullane; Liam Griffin, Shaun Barry, Luke O’Keeffe; Lorcan O’Leary (0-2), Cathal Downes (1-2, 0-1 free), Kyle Hayes (0-2); Liam O’Sullivan (2-0), Conor Staff (0-3, 0-1 free), Naoise McGarrigle; Darren O’Connell (2-3, 0-1 free), Adam Butler (0-5)

Subs: Paudi Hartigan (1-0) for Darren O’Connell (half-time); Mikey Hayes for Jack Mullane (half-time)