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02 Oct 2022

Intermediate Roundup: Huntertown impress while favourites O'Raghallaighs are defeated

Intermediate Roundup: Huntertown impress while favourites O'Raghallaighs are defeated

Hunterstown Rover's Glen Mathews. (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)

CTI Business Solutions Intermediate Football Championship Round 1

Group 1

Cooley Kickhams 0-12 Oliver Plunketts 0-6

Cooley Kickhams got their quest to go one step better then last year in their search for the Seamus Flood Cup off to the perfect start when they showed just enough class to come out on top against a stubborn Oliver Plunketts unit that never gave in.

On a wet ad windy evening in Darver, it was the men from the Peninsula that got out in front, building up an early six-point cushion that was never wiped out. The Drogheda men dug deep in difficult conditions to make a game of it, but ultimately the gap proved too big.

On a night where it was always going to be tough to produce a good footballing display, the opening six minutes was a largely forgettable affair, both teams struggling to create much of note.

Given this feeling out process, the first score was always going to be crucial, and it went the way of last year’s finalists, courtesy of a free from the boot of Michael Rafferty on seven minutes. From here they began to find their feet, another five scores in a row a following.

They began to dictate around the middle, turning over the ball constantly, either directly from Plunkett’s kickouts or just from a higher intensity and hunger to win the breaking ball. 

The lynchpins to their attacks were Cian Connor and Patrick Johnson as they began to move the ball much better. They won free after free, which Connor nicely slotted over. Coupled with efforts from play from Rafferty and Connor, Cooley built up a six point cushion after just 16 minutes.

To their credit the Sean Brassil/Emmet Kelleher managed team didn’t back down, and having barely ventured forward in the opening 20 minutes, they ended up dominating possession for the remainder of the half.

On the edge of the square, Stephen Keeley was a constant threat, his sublime aerial presence seeing him win pretty much any high ball that came his way. This tactic saw the Drogheda men get on the scoreboard via Cian Matthews. After a turnover in the middle, Matthews pointed again.

Another score came via a free from Conor Early and having kept their opponents to just a point in the final quarter, it left them trailing by 0-7 to 0-3 at the break.

The long ball tactics continued to work their magic, Keeley winning a close range free that was tapped over shortly after the restart. However from here they went 17 minutes with raising a white flag.

Colm Nally’s men once more found their groove, their kicking game finding fruit via scores from Daren Marks and Enda O’Neill to restore a six point lead.

The Plunkett’s threw everything at Cooley, once more having the lions share of the possession stakes in the final quarter, but they were unable to really do much damage as Cooley matched them score for score.

Points from Cian Brady and Adam Lambe were cancelled out by efforts from Rafferty and Fergal Malone, meaning the Kickhams held on to record a vital six point victory.

They now face off against Junior champions Glen Emmets in Dunleer this Saturday, a tie that looks on paper to be a cracking contest.

Kickhams: Neil Gallagher; Dean McGreehan, Conor McGuinness, Ronan McBride; Patrick Cooley Hanlon, Eoin McDaid, Gerry Malone; Darren Marks (0-1), Keith White; Enda O’Neill (0-1), Fergal Malone (0-1), James O’Reilly; Michael Carron (0-1), Michael Rafferty (0-3, 0-2 frees), Cian Connor (0-5, 0-4 frees). Subs: Patrick Johnson for C McGuinness (9), Aoghan McGuinness for Hanlon (44).

Oliver Plunketts: Stephen Beirth; Cillian Matthews, David McTeggert, Cillian Smith; Adam Lambe (0-1), Dean Carolan, Shaun Smith; Robbie Brodigan, Conor Early (0-1) Sean Boyle, Cian Matthews (0-2), Conor Haggans; Cian Brady (0-2 frees), Stephen Keely, Gary Keogh. Subs: Kristain Nolan for Sean Boyle (HT), Barry Reynolds for Cian Matthews (40), Sean Callaghan for Haggans (50), Ricky Bateson for Smith (58).

Group 2

Clan na Gael 1-9 O’Raghallaighs 1-8

Clan na Gael landed the shock of the first round across all three championships, producing the goods to seal a well deserved win over a highly fancied O’Raghallaighs in Darver.

Fresh off their comeback victory over the Irelanders that saw them crowned Division 2 champions, the Drogheda men were many people’s fancy to lift the Seamus Flood Cup later this year.

Yet they trailed for the majority of the contest, a Billy Smyth goal midway through the second half helping the Ecco Road men build up a five point cushion.

This never looked like being pegged back until a tiring Clans outfit conceded 1-1 deep into injury time, but to their credit they stood firm and were well deserving of their narrow win.

Alan O’Neill’s troops came out of the blocks fast, taking the lead as early as the third minute courtesy of fine effort from range from Conor Noonan, while a shot from Robbie Curran doubled their side’s lead.

The first was quarter was all about the Dundalk men, who showed lovely patience when in possession. Noonan, Robbie Curran and Jason Callen were composed on the ball, taking their time and waiting for the right opportunities. Billy Smyth led the line, his movement making him tough to mark.

Defensively they looked solid too, pushing up on the O’Raghallaighs as they tried to get forward and forcing them into mistakes. It took them 15 minutes to get on the board, playmaker Ben Rogan soloing past two defenders before slotting over.

He was their go to attacker throughout, with young Kyle McElroy, seen as a great talent for the future, struggling to get scoring opportunities. Yet they managed to equalise soon after via Rogan.

The men in green and white even held the lead for brief period on 24 minutes, taking advantage of the fact that up to this point the Clans had notched five wides, dropped one short and also had a goal effort that could have been an easy point saved by Joe Flanagan.

However, they rallied strongly late on, Sean O’Hanlon and Callan pointing to leave the Dundalk men in front, 0-5 to 0-4 at the break.

Niall Ronan’s troops started strongly as they searched for an equaliser, creating three chances in the opening five minutes. Two went wide while another went off the post. Overall were they kept scoreless for 25 minutes either side of half time.

The Clan’s were dealt a big blow when the influential Callan was issued a black card for tripping a player, yet they hit 1-3 while he stood on the sideline. The crucial goal coming on 46 minutes, Mark Newell launching it into towards the endline for Billy Smyth who brilliantly rattled the net.  

Callan returned to the pitch having served his ten minutes in the bin, however he would be issued with a yellow card for a poor foul in his own half on 54 minutes, meaning they finished the tie with 14 minutes. Crucially Robbie Curran landed a score just two minutes to leave the Clans five in front.

With the extra man and The Dundalk men tiring, having put in a trojan 60 minute performance, O’Raghallaighs bagged a goal deep into injury time. McElroy lumped in a ball which was fisted into the back of the net by substitute Danny Reilly.

Another point came from the next attack but Clan Na Gael stood strong, holding out for a vital win that puts them in pole position for a quarter final spot. Next up is another date in Darver this Saturday, where they face St Kevin’s.

Clan na Gael: Sean Smyth; Craig Callan, Ger Curran, Brian McDonnell; Paul Crewe, Conor Noonan (0-1), Conor Smyth; Robbie Curran (0-2), Conal McKeever; Paul Gore, Jason Cullen (0-1), John Byrne; Shaun O’Hanlon (0-3) Billy Smyth (1-2, 0-1 free), Mark McGeown. Subs: Mark Newell for McGeown (41), Tiernan Woods for Newell (60), Paul Martin for Noonan (63).

O’Raghallaighs: Joe Flanagan; Daire O’Rourke, Alan Doyle, Emmet King; Jack Carr, Chris Smith, Ewan Sweeney; James Moonan, Ruairi Moore (0-2, 0-1 45’); Danny Morgan, Eoin Moore (0-2) , Olan Walshe; Kyle McElroy (0-2, 0-1 free), Ben Rogan (0-2), Barry Flanagan. Subs: Joe Meehan for Carr, James Morgan for Sweeney, Cillian curran for Walshe, Danny Reilly (1-0) for Morgan, John Horan for B Flanagan.

Referee: Stephen Johnson

Group 3

Roche Emmets 1-12 Sean O’Mahonys 1-10

Division 2 got the better of division 1 as Roche Emmets held off the Sean O’Mahonys to emerge as strong favourites to advance as winners of Group 3 of the IFC.

Having kicked nine scores from 11 shots in open play, Roche led by six at the break, however you never have an O’Mahonys team beaten that easily and back they came in the second half with that customary steely defiance.

Roche enjoyed the brighter start, and but for some scrappy last ditch defending from O’Mahony’s Robbie Galligan, they almost were given a goal start. Barry O’Hare was however there to pop the loose ball over the bar for the opening score.

Sean O’Mahonys were undoubtedly missing influential players Stephen Kilcoyne, John O’Brien, Chris O’Neill and Conor Martin due to injury, and Liam Dullaghan’s side lacked direction and guile at times up front. Conor Finnegan did level things up with a close range free.

However, Roche had players all over who could penetrate the opposition’s defence, with the likes of Liam and Sean Dawe, James McDonnell and Glen Stewart all breaking lines from deep, with Caomhin Reilly picked for the sweeper role.

They turned the Sean O’Mahonys over 16 times in that first half, with eight of them coming from breaking down attacks.

From such flowing moves, Barry O’Hare, Shane Byrne and Conor Carthy profited as Jamie O’Hare’s side lead by 0-4 to 0-1 after 15 minutes.

Ben McLaughlin landed the O’Mahonys first score from play after 18 minutes, but Roche continued to treat their supporters to some marvellous kicking from distance, with Gerard Browne firing over a magnificent effort, before Barry O’Hare converted an advance mark to make it 0-6 to 0-2 in Emmets’ favour.

Vinny Smyth and Kyle Carroll combined for Thomas Rice to halve the deficit. Sean Dawe extended Roche’s lead to four points, before Shane Byrne sold the O’Mahony’s defence two dummys, before raising another white flag.

Roche Emmets continued to be fluent in attack, and Barry O’Hare flicked to Mark Byrne who ran across his marker to fire over the bar soccer style.

James McDonnell was certainly a major influence, and the county panel member fired past goalkeeper Kevin Brennan to make it 1-9 to 0-3, and Roche looked out of sight, heading into the break.

The O’Mahonys were keen to remind us all that they were down but not out, and following great work on the endline by Terry Kelly, Thomas Rice, who finished with 18 possessions, fired to the net to give his side hope before the break, cutting Roche’s lead to six points at the interval.

The O’Mahonys approached the second half with those battling qualities that we have grown accustomed to seeing from the Dundalk club over the years.

Liam Dullaghan’s side threw the kitchen sink at Roche Emmets, and it was backs to the wall stuff for the Division 2 side. The Dundalk side introduced Shane Kerrigan from the bench, moving him to the edge of the square, as they decided to kick direct as much as possible.

By the 8th minute of the second half, there was just a kick of the ball between the sides, thanks to three terrific points in a row from Terry Kelly who played a big part in the revival.

Sandwiched in between those Kelly efforts, was a terrific save from Roche custodian Evin Quigley who denied Ben McLaughlin as the Blues scrambled the ball to safety.

Roche continued to create openings on the break. Following a wonderful run, Glen Stewart found himself baring down on goal, however the midfielder chose to pass to Barry O’Hare and O’Mahony’s keeper Kevin Brennen picked up the loose ball.

Barry O’Hare kicked two further scores, in between another Shane Byrne effort, stretching their side’s lead back to six at 1-12 to 1-6 by the 45th minute.

Kyle Carroll was certainly somebody who carried the O’Mahony’s fight and his effort closed the gap back to five. The O’Mahonys continued to kick long and a fisted effort from Shane Kerrigan crept over the bar, and despite another score from Ben McLaughlin, Roche Emmets ultimately held on for a huge victory.

They face the O’Connells this weekend in the hope that they can advance to the quarter finals as group winners. While the O’Mahonys will be hoping that some key players return from injury.

Roche Emmets: Evin Quigley; Harry O’Connell, David Quigley, Adam McKay; Sean Dawe (0-1), James McDonnell (1-0), Caomhin Reilly; Liam Dawe, Glen Stewart; Conor Carthy (0-1), Gerard Browne (0-1), Daire Reilly; Barry O’Hare (0-4, 0-1 mark), Shane Byrne (0-3), Mark Byrne (0-2). Subs: Kevin Callaghan for Daire Reilly (50), David O’Connell for Carthy (58). 

Sean O’Mahonys: Kevin Brennan; Robbie Galligan, Stephen Kettle, Kian McEvoy; Keith McLaughlin, Shane Brennan, Thomas Rice (1-1); Kyle Carroll (0-1), Gareth Hall; Sean Cassidy, Conor Finnegan (0-1 free), Terry Kelly (0-4, 0-1 free); Vinny Smyth, Ben McLaughlin (0-2), Conor Mackin. Subs: Shane Kerrigan (0-1) for Keith McLaughlin (HT), Junior Shoyto for Smyth (41), Shane Brennan for Mackin (60). 

Referee: Paul Kneel.

Group 4

HUNTERSTOWN ROVERS 1-16 KILKERLEY EMMETS 0-7

Brendan Lennon did not get the memo. The Hunterstown substitute hit his side’s last point in their twelve -point win over Kilkerley Emmets in Ardee on Saturday evening.

Rover’s win was simply down to the good form of Glen Matthews and Ryan and Dean Burns. Up until Lennon’s late point, the trio had accounted for all of the winners’ total. That is how accurate and effective they were on the night.

Kilkerley could not handle the forwards slick movement and it made for a long evening for the Emmets, who looked very much like a side that came into the encounter on the back of some poor league form.

Injuries and absences have been the story of their season and last year's semi-finalists look way off the pace this year as a result. Conor Quigley especially, will be needed in a fortnight's time to stave off the Irelanders and perhaps maybe a relegation scrap.

Glen Matthews has always threatened but Saturday was when it all came together for the electric forty yards man. Right from the start he fired over the first two points of the game. Two sweet efforts from distance.

Then all of a sudden it was 1-7 to no score. Rovers just opened up and expressed themselves and the respect they paid Emmets at the start dissipated as Mathews coolly slotted the ball past Rian Hand.

The quick hands from debutant James Rogers was key to opening up the defence and sending Matthews away. Rogers was a Louth minor last season and one of three starting debutants on the night for Colm Donnelly’s side, Shane Halpenny and Cillian Taaffe in defence the others.

Ryan Burns then got going, the county man had a great tussle with Aaron Crawford all evening and four points were amassed by half time.

Fionn Cumiskey has been a bright light this season for Dessie Lennon and another of last year's Louth minors opened their tally in the 26th minute of action and quickly added another from play to make it 1-7 to 0-2 at the interval.

There was not a lot of hope for a turnaround in the chatter around Ardee at half time and Dean Burns made certain with two quick points in a lively second half showing.

Substitutes Sean Hand and Kieran Murtagh tried hard off the bench but Emmets were too off-colour on the night and Hunterstown and the two Burns were linking up like they were in their back garden.

Tadhg McEneaney landed three free’s down the stretch before Lennon crashed the party with a well taken score for the rampant Rovers. 

HUNTERSTOWN ROVERS: Niall Carrie; Cillian Taaffe, Martin Lennon, Paddy Taaffe; Alan Landy, Daithi Carroll, Shane Halpenny; Jason Monaghan, Tony McKenna; James Rogers, Glen Matthews (1-4), David Finn; Paul Carrie, Ryan Burns (0-8, 0-1 mark, 0-3 frees), Dean Burns (0-3). SUBS: Brendan Lennon (0-1) for Rogers (50), Oisín McGee for D Burns (56), Adam O’Reilly for M Lennon (61), Conor O’Brien for Landy (61).

KILKERLEY EMMETS: Rian Hand; Tadhg McKeown, Aaron Crawford, Cormac Bellew; Eoghan Smyth, Cillian Mulligan, Fintan Brady; James Fegan, Darren Geoghegan; Ewan McEntaggert, Shaun McElroy, Brian Brady; Tadhg McEneaney (0-3 frees), Cathal Bellew, Fionn Cumiskey (0-3, 0-1 frees). SUBS: Sean Hand for McElroy (18), Paddy Murtagh for Geoghegan (HT), Kieran Murtagh (0-1) for Smyth (35), Dan McKeown for Mulligan (51), Ciaran Clarke for McEntaggert (56).

REF: Aidan Shevlin (Stabannon Parnells)

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