Kilmac up and running at expense of Annacurra
KILMACANOGUE got their Darcy Sand Intermediate Football Championship campaign off to a wonderful start when they defeated Annacurra in Aughrim on Saturday evening last.
The early stages of this game were played in a steady drizzle, leaving the playing surface slippery and leading to occasional handling errors and mistakes.
Annacurra, just down from Senior ranks, would have justifiable aspiration to make a quick return back up the ranks. Likewise, Kilmac can hobble the best and on a good day can look to be a team of great talent.
However, in this most difficult of championships, it is essential to put together consistent displays and both sides disappointed in this regard last Saturday.
The Sugarloaf men hit the ground running straight from the throw in. Niall Meldon and Robert Conan had the better of exchanges in the midfield area and with the O’Callaghan brothers, Simon Doyle and Andrew Molloy moving the ball at pace and supporting each other; the flow of the game was towards the Annacurra goal in the first quarter.
The Derry men struggled to establish any sort of rhythm to their play. Their last line of defence was being put under extreme pressure where Sam O’Callaghan was benefiting from a plentiful supply of ball. He opened the scoring with a pointed free and Niall Meldon made it two points a minute later.
In the eighth minute Kilmac scored their first goal. A long ball in from Meldon bounced over the outcoming Sam O’Callaghan and Shane O’Neill and found the in-running Kevin Redden who slid the ball past Michael Doyle from close in.
Sam O’Callaghan pointed four frees in a row from varying distances to put Kilmac on a score of 1-5 at the quarter hour stage.
By now Annacurra were beginning to get some foothold in the game and their traditional championship fighting spirit was beginning to awaken.
Mick O’Brien was pushing forward from midfield with Alan Byrne coming more into play in the middle third also. The half backs Dean Barnes, Martin O’Brien and Paul McDonald were getting forward to put pressure on the Kilmac defence and the momentum of the game began to change.
Frank Clune opened their scoring from a free after 14 minutes. The same player went short with a ‘45’ two minutes later, took a return pass and kicked point number two.
On 20 minutes, the Annacurra defence, now pushing upfield, got caught with a sucker punch of a goal. Sam O’Callaghan found himself inside the last line of defence and beat Michael Doyle from close in.
Kilmac did not score in the final ten minutes of the half and only scored three more points in the entire remainder of the game.
Alan Byrne got a third point for the Derry men and Clive Horan completed their first-half account with a point before the break. Kilmac had an eight-point lead at 2-6 to 0-4.
Annacurra got another point on the board straight from the second half throw in. Michael O’Brien gained possession and landed a long kick into Frank Clune. The corner-forward caught, turned and kicked a fine point.
Josh O’Callaghan responded for Kilmac but Annacurra were now getting going and the Sugarloaf defence needed to be on full alert.
Luckily for them the Annacurra attack wasted a few chances before Frank Clune pointed again in the tenth minute. Once again there was a Kilmac response, this time with a point from a Sam O’Callaghan free.
Annacurra brought Michael Healy, Robert Fitzgerald, Elliot Robinson and Shane O’Keeffe into the fray and the injection of fresh legs increased the pressure on Kilmac. However, around 20 minutes into the half an incident following the awarding of a free to Annacurra led to the dismissal of Mick O’Brien, the Annacurra midfielder, and Andrew Molloy of Kilmacanogue.
The unfortunate Paul McDonald of Annacurra followed them a minute later following an off the ball clash. Three players off within a minute would give a totally false impression to a game which was contested in a sporting manner throughout.
Annacurra continued to press and Ian McDonald was wide of the post with a ground shot which had goal written all over it. Glenn Austin pointed, and Ian McDonald added another from a free as the game went into the time added period. Luke O’Callaghan got the final point for Kilmac in the third minute of time added.
Finally, Glenn Austin got the goal that Annacurra needed much earlier and it left the final score at 2-9 to 1-8 in favour of Kilmacanogue.
Annacurra had come back well from the 20th minute of the game onwards, but Kilmac’s lightning start was sufficient to see them secure a deserved victory.
Michael Healy is challenged by Luke O’Callaghan of Kilmacanogue.