Milltown/Castlemaine made the short trip to Keel this afternoon for the opening round of the 2019 Mid Kerry Senior Football League (Round 1). The game was the first competitive outing of the 2019 season for both sides and with the added intrigue surrounding this fixture that both clubs will compete against each other later in the year again in the Credit Union County Senior Football League Division 3, both sides would have been hoping to learn a lot from this fixture to take into that battle further down the line whilst also blooding some newcomers to the senior setups. Both sides lined out without the services of some key players but all in all there was still plenty of strength to both panels for this local derby so early in the year and with Keel under new management from John Paul Leahy he was sure to have wanted to get off to a positive start at his new club. Paul Fitzmaurice is into his second season at the helm of Milltown/Castlemaine and will be undoubtedly looking to build for the year ahead with an eager, young and enthusiastic squad at his disposal. It was a feature of this game and very noticeable too that there was no fewer than 10 players between both sides who made there senior debuts in today's encounter which brought a fresh and fast look to both teams play all through & is brilliant to see youth being nurtured in such a way. The early exchanges, played out in front of a sizeable attendance on a cold February afternoon in Keel were tight and scrappy with underfoot conditions not aiding either sides cause. Keel wing-forward Dylan Prendergast opened the home sides account after 5 minutes with a right footed effort which stayed just inside the post to get the home side off the mark. This spurred Milltown/Castlemaine into action and a terrific solo run from Gavin Horan right through the heart of the Keel defence who then fed the waiting Jerome Flynn who not for the only time all afternoon, unselfishly lifted his head, seen there was a player (in this case it was Donal Dennehy) in a better position and he fed Dennehy who finished well despite a valiant effort to keep it out from Cillian Sayers. Keel wasted no time in getting the game back on level terms and within three minutes of this setback they had achieved parity, a Gary Sayers free followed by a well taken point from Keel Senior Debutant Gary Murphy who lined out at centre-forward had the scores at 1-0 to 0-3 after 10 minutes.
First half goals decisive
This game effectively swung in the favour of the away side for the next period as Milltown/Castlemaine took a stranglehold on proceedings with 1-3 without reply between the 12th and 22nd minutes leaving Keel with a mountain to climb. Jamie O'Shea got Milltown/Castlemaine's first point of the day on 12 minutes after Jerome Flynn was pulled down close to goal. This was soon followed by another deadly blow the opposition as on 14 minutes Gavin Horan would score the first of his two goals today following a sweeping movement which seen Jeremiah Hayes and the aforementioned Jerome Flynn do the bulk of the work and when it came to the end of the move, Flynn fed the ball to Horan who had already got in behind the Keel defensive line before expertly finishing to make it 2-1 to 0-3. Flynn punished a misplaced Cillian Sayers kick-out on 19 minutes and followed this with a 14 yard free after midfielder David Roche was pulled back, so M/C led 2-3 to 0-3 by this stage. Keel, through the boot of Dylan Prendergast, this time on his weaker left foot tried to turn the tide on 23 minutes with a good point and Aaron Murphy from play on the turn after Martin Burke sent in a diagonal ball soon after had the gap back at four, 2-3 to 0-5. Milltown/Castlemaine more or less put paid to any question of a mini-revival soon after as after Jerome Flynn converted a 30 yard free following a clash between Pa Wren and Daniel Ashe in a collision which could be hard quite a distance away then Gavin Horan scored a third goal for the visitors (His 2nd) after David Roche and Jerome Flynn combined to tee up Horan who had pitched himself at the back post and had the easiest of finishes. Aaron Murphy did reply with a 14 yard free for Keel after he was fouled and no advantage accrued but it would be Pa Wren who had the final say of the half as a lovely score from 45 yards out for M/C after he had initially fell to the ground sent the away side in much the happier of the two teams. HT- Milltown/Castlemaine 3-5 Keel 0-6
Evenly-matched second half
Milltown/Castlemaine left off where they finished just after the break and Gavin Horan landed an exquisite score on 31 minutes after that man again Flynn laid the ball off to him, it did hang in the air for quite a bit such was the height put on it but it went between the posts to much applause. Gary Sayers won his own free and then converted from 21 yards out to get Keel off the mark for the second half but that was as good as it got for some time as Milltown/Castlemaine through four points on the spin took control once again of the contest. Craig Counihan who was wing-forward profited in the 37th minute from a quick bit of thinking from Jeremiah Hayes when taking a short '45' to fire over from the stand side before two points in a row from substitute and senior debutant Dylan O'Neil, the first a free from 21 yards out, the second a point from play from an acute angle after another substitute Liam Burke gave him the opportunity to shoot for a score, we led 3-9 to 0-7 on the 45th minute mark. Gavin Horan from 30 yards out following a Jeremiah Hayes pass and Gary Sayers from a near impossible angle at the corner of the pitch exchanged scores in the 50th and 51st minutes respectively to leave it 3-10 to 0-8. Sayers again in the 55th minute from play after neat interchange play with Aaron Murphy and Murphy in the 57th minute from a long distance free after he was fouled brought the two sides a little closer in the scoring stakes but this was cancelled out virtually straight away as Gavin Horan wrapped up a terrific performance all through with his final score of the game from 21 yards out after Flynn set him up. Jamie O'Shea fittingly (Seen as he also got the away teams 1st point of the day) would finish the away teams scoring for the day soon after with a 14 yard pointed effort from play straight in front of the sticks after a barnstorming run from corner-back by Ciaran O'Connor seen him create the scoring opportunity with the help of Horan again along the way. Keel did keep at it, also with plenty of youngsters being used throughout and had the final score of the game when Gary Sayers pointed from a late free, deep into injury time to leave the gap at ten points by the close of play. FT- Milltown/Castlemaine 3-13 Keel 0-12 Milltown/Castlemaine Team: C Leane, C O'Connor, T McCarthy, S Roche, K O'Carroll, P Wren, J Dennehy, D Dennehy, D Roche, C Counihan, G Horan, K Kerins, J Flynn, J Hayes, J O'Shea Subs Used: R Hegarty, D O'Neil, J Dennehy, L Burke, D Leane