McAleer & Rushe Tipperary Cup Rnd 1
NL Shamrocks 0-14
St Kiernans 1-9
By Damian Dolan
At Montrose Park
Someone clearly didn’t tell Shamrocks and Kiernans that this was a cup game on the opening weekend of a long season, because the way they went at each other for 60 minutes at Montrose Park on Sunday you’d be forgiven for thinking the senior title was on the line.
No easing their way into the new season or blowing off the cobwebs for these two sides. This was end-to-end action with no quarter asked or given. It was relentless stuff, and it made for compelling viewing.
It was testament to both sides’ fitness levels, even in mid-April, that the intensity and pace never let up.
Both will hope, or even expect, to be in the reckoning when the silverware is handed out this year, and as such this was clearly viewed by each as an early opportunity to lay down a marker.
Shamrocks might have had the ball in the Kiernans net twice in the opening four minutes. Daryl Roberts’ shot was easy for Jason Mullarkey to deal with, after a good run by the former Tir Chonaill Gaels man, while Peter Witherow saw his goal-bound strike superbly blocked by Geff Kingston.
Witherow, who was on Donegal’s All Ireland winning panel of 2012, was a class act throughout at centre back.
Ryan Burke followed up Witherow’s effort, however, to open the scoring and Roberts doubled the Shamrocks’ lead. They’d started at a blistering pace.
But Kiernans were happy to match them and when the ball was worked to James Callery he stunned just about everyone when he promptly despatched it into the top corner of Brian Galvin’s goal. It was a sweet strike.
Michael Callery and Philip Morgan followed that up, and Kiernans led 1-2 to 0-2 after a blistering opening eight minutes.
No time to catch a breath, though, and Kiernans might have had a second goal when Danny Ryan set up Frazer Lennon, only for Brian Galvin to save well with his legs.
A concerted effort from Shamrocks five minutes before the break finally saw them close the gap given Kiernans by James Callery’s wonder strike.
Ollie Doherty started the mini purple patch by firing over and Shamrocks’ high pressing game brought reward straight from the kick out as the excellent Enda McHugh pointed. Ciaran Collery’s strike then levelled things up.
Lloyd Colfer’s Shamrocks were on a roll and Collery’s free edged them back in front for the first time since the sixth minute. They would never relinquish that lead.
That saw Shamrocks take a 0-9 to 1-5 lead into half-time, with former Sligo county player Eoin Flanagan impressing for Shamrocks at full back.
McHugh needed less than a minute to increase the Shamrocks’ lead further, but they were wasteful thereafter racking up several wides which would have otherwise seen them put a little bit of breathing space between themselves and Kiernans.
As it was, Kiernans spurned a chance for a second goal when former Cavan county player Barry Tully sliced through, but couldn’t find Ryan with his final pass.
Thomas Moriarty had time and space to fire over, but that was cancelled out by Finbarr O’Meara, who pointed with his first touch after coming on for Shamrocks.
Both sides were then reduced to 14 as James Callery and Ryan Burke saw straight reds after an altercation.
That distraction might have explained the defensive lapse which saw Kiernans immediately open Shamrocks up, and Jorgan Colgan played in one-on-one with Galvin. But the Kiernans man fired over the bar when he might have gone for goal.
That stunned Shamrocks back into life and Roberts and Rhys Lennon pointed to open up a three-point lead with ten minutes to go.
The unrelenting pace and intensity of the game was finally beginning to take its toll on some.
Ryan and Roberts (free) traded scores to leave Kiernans needing a goal as the game moved into injury-time, but all they could manage was a Michael Callery point.
Shamrocks were mightily impressive, but they’ll be wary given the start they made last year, only to end up emptyhanded, of getting too carried away by this result and performance.
But this was a 60 minutes to whet the appetite for the sides’ league meeting later in the year. More of the same would be welcome.
North London Shamrocks: Brian Galvin; Gary Fahy, Eoin Flanagan, Johnny Downey; Ollie Doherty 0-1), Peter Witherow, Ciaran Greene (0-1); Niall Costello, Enda McHugh (0-2); Felim Conroy, Ryan Burke (0-2), Stephen Hargadon (0-1); Ciaran Collery (0-3, 1f), Gerard Minihane, Daryl Roberts (0-3). Subs: Finbarr O’Meara (0-1) for Conroy.
St Kiernans: Jason Mullarkey; Ciaran Healy, Ian McGoug, Geff Kingston; Philip Morgan (0-1), Keith Curran, Rhys Lennon; Barry Shanahan (0-1), Danny Ryan (0-1); Thomas Moriarty (0-1), Barry Tully, James Callery (1-0); Shane Brady, Michael Callery (0-4, 1f), Frazer Lennon. Subs: Michael Keohane for Brady, Sean Kirwan for Morgan, Jordan Colgan (0-1) for Shanahan, Jack Ryan for Lennon, Kevin Connolly for Tully.
Referee: Liam Barry.