Intermediate Football Championship - Round 2

Kildimo/Pallaskenry 0-12 Gerald Griffins 1-11

This was a tough one to take; a heroic, battling performance from our footballers deserved more in Askeaton, as Gerald Griffins eked out a 2-point victory in the end. We were missing seven of last week’s starting team due to various circumstances which meant that a number of players made their Championship debuts and were coming in against a Gerald Griffins side who had notched a 21-point victory in their first game. But we came out all guns blazing, digging into our deepest reserves to produce a big performance which, sadly, was not enough in the end. Some of our shooting was really excellent, none more so than Peter Nash who kicked six points from play and Darren O’Connell, who kicked four points from play.

We roared into the game right from the start, Darren kicking the first point of the game with his left boot. Although Gerald Griffins would reply with a pointed free, we would notch the next three scores in a row. Darren O’Connell was causing serious problems for the Gerald Griffins defence with his running, while the movement of Peter Nash inside saw him link up with Darren as they sliced through the defence on a number of occasions. The likes of Barry Walsh, Brian Howard, Lorcan O’Leary and Kyle Hayes were putting in big defensive shifts, making interceptions and turnovers to allow us launch attacks. Darren kicked two more points in this run, and Peter scored a lovely point from play also. Gerald Griffins then put together a well-worked move and found the back of the net at the finish, which was a blow after our great start.

But again, we didn’t let it affect our confidence and straight from the kickout, we retook the lead. John Chawke brilliantly found Kyle Hayes in the middle of the field with the kickout, he popped it out to Tony McCarthy who linked up with Peter Nash, who swung it straight over the bar. Another point by Gerald Griffins was followed by another unbelievable score from Peter Nash, a monster effort with his right foot which sailed straight over the black spot. We were competing well all over the pitch but Gerald Griffins finally found their purple patch just before the break and rattled off three points without reply, but they were made to work hard for every one of them. But to ensure that we didn’t go in on a sour note at half-time, we would kick the last point of the half. Lorcan O’Leary did brilliantly to make an interception, he found the excellent run of Matthew Lucey down the left wing. There was some brilliant running from the likes of Ryan Kelly and Paudie Walsh to open up the space which Peter Nash moved into; he received the pass and popped it over the bar to leave the half-time score: Kildimo/Pallaskenry 0-7 Gerald Griffins 1-5.

We had been in a similar position the week before, but a poor start to the second half contributed to the game getting away from us but there was no repeat of that here. The work rate was superb throughout and again, we played some brilliant, free-flowing football at times. Some of the scoretaking was top class as well as the kickpassing and quick interplay between backs and forwards. The lads recognised they needed to continue the work rate into the second half and they did just that, really laying down a marker in the opening minutes. Darren O’Connell scored his fourth point from play in the opening minutes of the second half, a really top class performance from the Shanpallas man. That had drawn us level before Peter Nash put us into the lead with his fifth point from play; he soloed his way past a number of Gerald Griffins defenders, weaving his way in and out, before popping the ball over the bar!

When Paudie Walsh did brilliantly to cover back and make an interception, the Gerald Griffins defence was not set and he was able to find Peter in space and Peter made no mistake, kicking his sixth point from play, a remarkable tally. At this point, we were seriously troubling the Gerald Griffins kickout, Kyle Hayes was prominent alongside Tony McCarthy in the middle of the field but the likes of Paudie, Matthew Lucey and Ryan Kelly and all our forwards were putting in big shifts to pressure the short kickouts. More pressure saw Darren O’Connell again attack the defence, winning his fourth free of the day, and Peter Nash popped it over the bar to give us a three-point lead.

This lead was extended further when Matthew Lucey kicked a wonderful score off his right foot; it had sailed right between the uprights but one of the umpires waved it wide. The referee went in to consult before awarding the point which saw us move into a four-point lead. Our much-fancied opponents were under pressure, but credit to them, they made a county semi-final in 2018 and we forced them to dig deep here. We unfortunately lost the excellent Barry Walsh to injury, while the superb efforts took a toll as we entered the final 10 minutes and Gerald Griffins began to reel us back in with a couple of frees.

As we entered the closing stages, they managed to pop over a couple more scores to give them the lead by the narrowest of margins. They then worked another goal chance, attacking in along the endline. John Chawke produced a top class save to prevent a goal, the ball broke loss and their forward managed to pop it across the square for the corner-forward to find the back of the net. The umpire raised the green flag to the ire of our players, who were adamant that the pass had been thrown. Once again, the referee went into consult and agreed with that summation, disallowing the goal. However, he also adjudged that a foul had been committed as the player entered the square and so, awarded a penalty. It was a chance for Gerald Griffins to open up a significant four-point lead but John Chawke stepped up to the plate to produce another fantastic save. He dived at full-stretch to his right to divert the ball from goal, and we managed to sweep it away.

We were still a point down but it gave us an opportunity to work another scoring chance. But Gerald Griffins dropped everyone back and it made very difficult to penetrate. Eventually, they managed to bottle us up and hit us on the counter-attack before winning a free, which was converted. Even at two points down, there was still hope as we entered injury time and a couple of dangerous balls were floated in around the square but in the end, Gerald Griffins had too many bodies back and held on for the win.

It was highly disappointing after a serious effort from our lads. It won’t be much consolation this evening, but that level of performance will get us victories of this level. Gerald Griffins are comfortably on top of the group and strong favourites to make another semi-final, and we showed that there is very little difference in quality between us and them. Well done to all involved, it was one of those performances that would make you proud to be associated with the club and we will go again after the summer break!

Team: John Chawke; Evan Carroll, Barry Walsh, Brian Howard; Mossy Sheehan, Lorcan O’Leary, James Pomeroy; Tony McCarthy, Kyle Hayes; Michéal Keating, Darren O’Connell (0-4), Paudie Walsh; Ryan Kelly, Peter Nash (0-7, 0-1 free), Matthew Lucey (0-1)

Subs: Stephen Hodnett for Barry Walsh (47 mins); Adam Butler for Michéal Keating (49 mins); Darren Lane for Ryan Kelly (56 mins)