St Kiernan’s: 1-13
By Adam Shaw
St Kiernan’s maintained their unbeaten start to the 2016 league campaign with a hard-earned victory over Tir Chonail Gaels in Greenford. The visitors gave a polished performance and displayed their superior fitness levels to grind out the six-point win.
The hosts were left to rue the early goal they conceded as it meant they were chasing the game for the majority of the match. But resolute defending and scores at the right moments meant Kiernan’s always kept their opponents at arm’s length as they laid down a marker for the rest of the division.
In what has become a feature of their play this season, Kiernan’s set off like a rocket and adopted a high-pressing game to force mistakes and win the ball back quickly.
Peter Finn opened the scoring as he finished off a smart move involving Michael O’Donoghue and Shane McManus. Ciaran Carville then put two decent opportunities wide as TCG struggled to cope with the pace of the game. A superb score from Killian Butler, whose excellent movement allowed him to lose his marker and collect Shane McAney’s inch-perfect pass, stemmed the attacks.
But they were soon under pressure once more as Patrick Begley burst forward and slotted the ball past Gavin McEvoy after his initial effort had come back off the post. O’Donoghue continued to dictate possession in the opposition half and spotted Mark Mulholland’s diagonal run, laying on the ball for the half back to extend their advantage.
Dillon Ward fell victim to Carville’s pace a minute later and could only yield a free, which Adrian Moyles popped over. A rampant Kiernan’s side soon found themselves six points to the good, when a free-flowing move was finished off by Moyles in open play.
As the away side threatened to run away with the game, Luke Gavaghan halted the charge with a fine score on the run from 20 metres. He added a free soon after, when some good hassling work from Butler resulted in a foul dead in front of the posts.
Things looked to be turning when Butler again capitalised on a poor defensive clearance and was cynically blocked by Mulholland. The Kiernan’s man was shown a black card for the infringement, with the match only a quarter of an hour old while Gavaghan added the simple free.
With the game now on a knife-edge, Carville eased the tension on the Kiernan’s bench with two almost identical long-range scores. TCG pegged them back once more as John McGrath broke through the half back line and saw his strike sail through the uprights. Carville’s radar continued to show signs of inconsistency as he put another easy chance wide, before Moyles maintained his near-perfect aim with a good finish from right of the posts.
Gavaghan kept his personal tally ticking over with a point from just in front of the 45-metre line but a mix-up in midfield allowed Carville to pick up the loose ball and restore Kiernan’s five point lead.
They should have perhaps wrapped things up on the stroke of half-time, when Tommy Moriarty pounced on another Gaels error and was through on goal. But McEvoy showed good reflexes to push his effort clear before Brian Casserly shanked the follow-up well wide under pressure.
This miss was compounded when Gavaghan and Butler combined brilliantly and the latter somehow found the gap between the posts from a seemingly impossible angle.
Both sides were clearly nervous after the break as an increasing number of errors and missed opportunities set in. It wasn’t until 12 minutes into the second period that someone registered a score, as Moyles landed a ‘45. He repeated the trick a couple of minutes later to solidify Kiernan’s position with a six-point cushion before Gavaghan reduced the deficit with a hardearned free.
TCG appeared to be tiring but another missed opportunity from Carville, this time at the end of a fantastic move involving seven players, meant they were still in it. James Moran, who had come on for Mulholland in the first half, landed a great score from 35 metres before Gavaghan notched his fourth free of the match.
Thomas Woters, whose workmanlike display typified the Kiernan’s performance, was rewarded for his lungbusting runs when he was fed by O’Donoghue and completed a score.
Another Gavaghan free meant the Gaels remained within touching distance with five minutes left to play but Dermott Donoghue finished off another fine Kiernan’s move soon after to seal the result.
TIR CHONAIL GAELS: Gavin McEvoy; Brendan McAtruhsey, Phillip Butler, Michael McWilliams; Stewart Johnson, Gary Kane, Noel Hegarty; Anthony McDermott, Owen McGeehan; Shane McAney, Liam Gavaghan (0- 07, 5f), Dillon Ward; John McGrath (0-01), Killian Butler (0-02), Benny O’Reilly
ST KIERNAN’S: Brendon Mulrooney; Geoff Kingston, Keith Curron, Ciaran Healy; Patrick Begley (1-0), Shane McManus, Mark Mulholland (0-01); Peter Finn (0-01), Thomas Woters (0-01); Tommy Moriarty, Ciaran Carville (0-03), Michael O’Donoghue; Adrian Moyles (0-05, 1f, 2 ‘45), Michael Collery, Brian Casserly. Subs: James Moran (0-01), Dermott Donohue (0-01)