Tasty win for Annacurra
ANNACURRA STRATFORD/GR 1-12 1-4
IT looked for a long time that Stratford might fail to score at all in this Junior ‘C’ football championship game played in Annacurra on Thursday evening last.
That would not be a fair reflection of the amount of possession they enjoyed throughout the game.
In the first half they possibly shaded it in the level of play they enjoyed. Mark Landan, James Whelan and Conor Humphries were prominent in ensuring that the Annacurra defence came under pressure as regularly as the home side attacked.
The problem for the visitors was that they just failed to score. Frees were missed, many balls were dropped into Jack Byrne in the Annacurra goal and the goalie and full-back Mark Doyle dealt capably with everything that came their way.
Centre back Ciaran Byrne was solid and linked up well with Eoin Donegan, Niall and Stephen Murphy. In contrast to Stratford they were converting some of their chances into points, despite having six wides in the entire half.
Declan Loftus pointed after three minutes but did not record his and Annacurra’s second point until the 16th minute. Stephen Murphy converted a free a minute later and midfielder Eoin Donegan got their fourth and final point of the half three minutes before the break.
Stratford turned over to play the second period with the advantage of a slight breeze playing away from the dressing rooms end. Again they attacked from the start but their scoring draught continued.
Stephen Murphy from a free, Colm Maher from play and Maher again from a free had tacked on three more points for the home side by eight minutes.
They were now seven points up with their opponents still to score. Conor Humphries broke the duck for Stratford when he pointed a free after ten minutes. Stephen Murphy replied with a pointed free for Annacurra.
Stratford continued to make an effort to reflect their efforts on the score board and James Whelan added another point.
However, the visitors in pressing forward were leaving a lot of open space at the back. Annacurra began to exploit that space with long direct clearances from defence.
Midfielder Eoin Donegan got on the end of two of those long kicks and carried the ball through the heart of the defence to score two fine points.
Colm Maher was coming outfield for possession and he added another point.
Declan Loftus was also causing problems for the visitors and he too added a point, which could have been a goal.
Tom Sweeney came on as a substitute for Stratford after eighteen minutes. Within a minute he got on the end of a ball delivered in from James Whelan and out-jumped defenders and goal keeper to punch to the net. However, Annacurra came back quickly to score a goal of their own. Niall Murphy fielded a Stratford kick-out and immediately fed Colm Maher inside with a long kick pass. The full forward beat Declan Ballard from close in to bring the Annacurra tally to an end at 1-12. In the final few minutes Conor Humphries and Paul Sleator added two points from frees to bring the Western score to 1-4. Annacurra ran out comfortable and more than deserving winners. Stratford were left to rue that forty minute scoreless period.
Scorers - Annacurra: Colm Maher 1-3, Eoin Donegan 0-3, Declan Loftus 0-3, Stephen Murphy 0-3.
Stratford-Grangecon: Tom Sweeney 1-0, Conor Humphries 0-2, James Whelan 0-1, Paul Sleator 0-1.
Annacurra: Jack Byrne; Dermot Murphy, Mark Doyle, Lee Horan; Brian Shannon, Ciaran Byrne, James Walsh; Eoin Donegan, Niall Murphy; Declan Loftus, Stephen Murphy, Ciaran Doyle; Niall Short, Colm Maher, John O’Neill. Subs: Adrian Shannon, Sammy Walker.
Stratford: Declan Ballard; Rhys Edgehill, Matt Hanbridge, Owen Edgehill; Conor Kinsella, David Shorthall, Nigel O’Neill; Barry Whelan, Mark Landon; John Kelly, James Whelan, Conor Humphries; Jody Doyle, Paul Sleator, David Walsh. Subs: Tom Sweeney.
Referee: Christy O’Rourke.