Sugarloaf side too strong for Stratford-Grangecon
THERE was quite a lot riding on this final group match for Stratford-Grangecon, Kilmacanogue and Dunlavin with all three teams vying for third in the group and a quarter-final championship date, a place which deservedly went to the Kilmacanogue men.
The first half was cagey, very low scoring, and the first touch from both teams was poor or nervous.
On a positive, the tackling from both sides was excellent and referee Pat Dunne had little reason to use his whistle.
Much of the build-up play from both teams was good but the end product left a lot to be desired. Many shots dropped short or wide, however, Stratford-Grangecon got off to a perfect start when Diarmuid Cronin latched on to a full-back’s ball, turned and buried into the net on six minutes.
Kilmacanogue levelled the score on 11 minutes when Sam O’Callaghan netted and seemed to settle into the game, however Stratford Grangecon responded with two points and almost on half-time Aaron Creavin narrowed the gap to one in favour of Stratford-Grangecon.
The half-time break can make or break a team and usually the fitter younger team can ‘up’ their performance, and so it proved for Kilmacanogue.
Their intensity improved, their shot accuracy went up a level and their fitness really started to take a hold of the match in the third quarter.
In fact, they won the first four goal kicks of the second half and scored 2-3 in the third quarter, a point from centre half forward Michael Whelan who was starting to cut through the middle at will, a rampaging goal down the right from half back Ben O’Callaghan and then the defining goal.
A penalty made and scored by Michael Whelan, his shot coming off the crossbar and a needless foul by the Stratford-Grangecon defender led to a very avoidable penalty. Ben O’Callaghan and Aar- on Crevin each tagged on points which left the score 3-5 to 1-3.
Effectively the game was won at half-time on the line and in the third quarter of this match, Stratford-Grangecon failed to get out of the blocks and were simply blown away on the restart.
It wasn’t till the 53 minute that Stratford-Grangecon registered their first score of the second half. Most balls played into Diarmuid Cronin in the full-forward line were overhit and when possession was occasionally retained it was well outside the scoring zone.
Kilmac eased off the gas in the last ten which allowed Stratford-Grangecon to find a bit of form, scoring five unanswered points, with corner-forward Colin Byrne registering a couple of nice points from the left.
The gap was now three points with time almost up, but Kilmac responded well ensuring the victory with a goal from Robert Conan and a point from Josh O’Callaghan.
Man of the match: Cian Rafferty at 6 for Kilmacanogue had a steady influential match and right half-back Ben O’Callaghan had a great second half, scoring 1-1 at a critical stage.
Final Score: Kilmacanogue 4-6, Stratford Grangecon 1-8.
Kilmac march on to the quarter-final where stiffer opponents await! Stratford-Grangecon must defeat Ashford in order to retain their Intermediate status.
Scorers - Kilmacanogue: Ben O’Callaghan 1-1, Robert Conan 1-0, Michael Whelan 1-2, Sam O’Callaghan 1-0, Aaron Crevin 0-2, Josh O’Callaghan 0-1.
Stratford-Grangecon: Matt Manley 0-1, Michael Mangan 0-1, Ross Coogan 0-2, Colin Byrne 0-2, Diarmuid Cronin 1-0, Mark Murphy 0-1, Alan Norton 0-1.
Kilmacanogue: Niall King; Donal Tuohy, Paddy O’Donnell, Marcus Rafferty; Gavan Burke, Cian Rafferty, Ben O’Callaghan; Andrew Molloy, Robert Conan; Simon Doyle, Michael Whelan, Sam O’Callaghan; Aaron Crevin, Josh O’Callaghan, Niall Meldon.
Stratford-Grangecon: Patrick Cronin; Joe O’Neill, Patrick Walsh, Ian Moore; Adam Doyle, Eoin O’Neill, Marcus Hanbidge; Matt Manley, Michael Mangan; Ross Coogan, Jason Bolger, Kieran Byrne; Colin Byrne, Diarmuid Cronin, Mark Murphy. Sub: Alan Norton for Joe O’Neill.