Munster Intermediate Football Championship

Kildimo/Pallaskenry 1-6 Corofin 1-13

The final score-line does not reflect the effort that our players put in over the course of 60 minutes or really tell the story of this game, but sport can be harsh at times. For the vast majority of this encounter, we led, but an impressive blitz by the home side, when their backs were against the wall saw them over the line. We travelled fifty minutes up the road to the home ground of Corofin and, right from throw-in, there was an impressive atmosphere with our supporters lending their voices to the occasion as always. 

The opening minutes were fiercely-contested, with lots of heavy hits going in from both sides. Conditions were a little soft underfoot, as is to be expected in December, and both sides were able to turn each other over in the middle third. We were the ones who opened the scoring when Peter Nash kicked a free with his left foot, after Tony McCarthy had been fouled after a good run forward. This spurred Corofin into life and, although they would kick a couple of wides in a row, they would score two points in quick succession to take the lead. However, we were getting a lot of joy when we moved the ball quickly and the long, direct ball into our full-forward line was causing havoc. It was such a ball that led to our goal which was probably the score of the game. A long ball was played inside where Ryan Kelly and Peter Nash contested it against the full-back line. It looked as if the full-back had done enough to break the ball away from the danger zone but hard work from Ryan and Peter kept things alive, and Peter was able to retrieve it. It looked as if there was no room for a shot, he was faced with a defender who looked certain to get a block in if he attempted a shot, while at a very tight angle but Peter unleashed an unbelievable shot into the far corner of the net. It clipped the post and the back of the net bulged, the keeper helpless. 

It was a fantastic score which gave us a two-point lead and we would not relinquish this lead until the final quarter. While our inside line were always dangerous, there were also some huge moments in defence. Brian Howard was once again a tower of strength in the full-back line, aided by the likes of Mossy Sheehan and Barry Walsh in getting some big turnovers. We led by two at the water break, but Corofin hit back with a point from play immediately from the restart but we would take control of the remainder of the quarter to really assert our dominance on the game. A long kickout from Jamie Hickey after Corofin’s score was won by Cathal Downes; we managed to work the ball nicely through the hands, a number of players involved. It eventually was moved from right to left, across the pitch, and Cathal himself got on the end of it, kicking a wonderful score off his less-favoured foot! This was a brilliant team move, and when we moved the ball across the pitch, space was opening up in front. Ryan Kelly was fouled shortly after in the left corner, and Peter Nash again kicked the free, this time with his right foot to push our lead out to three points. 

Corofin had a lot of pace in their attack and were creating opportunities but stout defending was keeping them at bay, but we also needed to call on a brilliant save from Jamie Hickey on the one occasion when they did breach our defence. Their county star, Jamie Malone, unleashed a powerful drive but Jamie was equal to the task, reacting brilliantly to deflect the ball wide. We had one goal already, but we weren’t content to settle with that and their keeper also produced a fine save to keep the gap at three points. Again, we worked the ball across the pitch and a gap opened up for Lorcan O’Leary who powered through. Lorcan had hit two goals in the county final, and this was a similar opportunity but the keeper produced a great stop to deny us another goal. But we kept pushing and we were soon rewarded with another score, this time through our captain. Again, we were patient, we worked the ball through the hands and Liam O’Sullivan came forward from wing-back and, although he was a long way out from goal, he wasn’t closed down and he let fly with the outside of his right boot and the ball landed over the black spot!

We led by four as we entered stoppage time in the first half but were hit by a blow just before the break as James Pomeroy was deemed to pull down a man in the middle of the field as they contested a kickout, and he was given a black card. Corofin tried to take a quick free and ended up scoring a point, but this was pulled back and they were forced to re-take it. Again, they worked it short and attacked down their left flank when a ball was handpassed by their forward across goal, where it was intercepted by Brian Howard. However, controversy reigned, as the umpire deemed the ball to have crossed the line and went for the green flag. To all our players and supporters, it appeared as if the ball had been handpassed over the line and therefore should not have counted but the referee agreed with his umpires and the goal stood which meant the half-time score was: Kildimo/Pallaskenry 1-4 Corofin 1-3.

The double blow on the stroke of half-time of a controversial goal and a black card could have led to us being rocked but our lads showed supreme character in that third quarter as they took the game to our hosts. Peter Nash was a real livewire in attack, and he was fouled by the Corofin man, and kicked the point himself to extend our lead to two. The game got a little heated in this time, with some big hits going in and the referee dished out a couple of yellow cards. We defended extremely well while a man down, but Corofin were able to kick two frees to draw the game level before James Pomeroy was allowed back on the field of play. However, shortly after, there was another huge moment in the game as a Corofin substitute who had received a yellow card shortly after coming in, dragged Lorcan O’Leary down in an off-the-ball incident. The referee allowed play to continue but came back to the incident after, and stayed consistent, giving the Corofin player a black card on top of his yellow card, which meant that he was sent off!

The game had turned on its head; the teams were level as we headed into the water break but we knew that the tables had turned and we would play the last fifteen minutes with the extra man, having played really well with 14 men for ten minutes of the second half. However, things did not go our way. Whether it was tiredness having defended with our lives while with 14 men, whether it was the time off after the county final catching up with us or something else, it was Corofin who took control of the game in the final quarter despite being a man down. They had kicked a lot of wides throughout the game, but they finally started to hit the target while we turned the ball over a little bit too easily and maybe forced things a little early. And as Corofin scores started to go over, a little bit of panic may have set in, as we thought that we would need a goal to turn things around. We did trouble their keeper at times, but were unable to create a clearcut opportunity. Peter Nash struck the post with a shot on the angle, Dylan Corrigan clipped a ball just wide having beaten his marker and Shaun Barry was unlucky not to divert a ball past the goalkeeper. Peter Nash floated a free in on top of Shaun and Dylan which the keeper did not deal with it, it bounced, but ended up going over the bar instead of under.

We gave away a couple of sloppy frees down the other end, we were penalised for touching the ball on the ground on a couple of occasions and Corofin, with the home crowd now roaring them on, took these opportunities. We chased goals and Corofin broke at pace, and extended their lead. It was unfortunate the way it finished, having led for so long and having played so well but to be fair to our opponents, they took control of the game when it mattered most and deserved the victory.

Nevertheless, it has been a fantastic year and this is another of those experiences that we must learn from as we head into senior football next year. As we move up the grades, teams will punish any lapses in concentration and we will benefit from all matches of this quality. A huge thank you once again to all the players who have put in a massive effort this year, and who have brought a county title back to the parish! John Chawke, in his first year of management, won a county title and that is some achievement in itself! Many thanks to John, to Ollie Coffey, to Billy O’Sullivan and Paul Browne, to Alan Fitzgerald, to Éanna McGarrigle and to Brendan O’Shea for all their efforts throughout the season. They have also put in a huge amount of effort and were rewarded by seeing the club step up to senior. 

Team: Jamie Hickey; Brian Howard, Mossy Sheehan, Barry Walsh; Jack Mullane, Tony McCarthy, Liam O’Sullivan (0-1); Conor Staff, James Pomeroy; Cathal Downes (0-1), Lorcan O’Leary, Darragh Deegan; Peter Nash (1-4, 0-4 frees), Ryan Kelly, Dylan Corrigan
Subs: Matthew Lucey for Darragh Deegan; Shaun Barry for Ryan Kelly
Panel: James Fitzgerald, Eoin Sheahan, Mícheál Cuddihy, Johnny McHale, Evan Considine, Ciarán Galvin, Naoise McGarrigle, Martin Nunan, Luke Guinane, Darren Lane, Sean Staff, Bryan O’Shea, Tom O’Shea, Kieran Bourke, Darragh Walsh