Referee: Tom Moriarty (Killarney Legion)
Report by Dara O'Connor
Today seen the long awaited and eagerly anticipated resumption of competitive GAA action for the first time in over four months as Milltown/Castlemaine and Waterville clashed in a Round 1 Intermediate Championship fixture, played in Glenbeigh as all games this weekend were neutral venues. In what is by and large perceived a very open group with two Mid Kerry and two South Kerry clubs, both sides were hoping to get off to the best possible start and take home the victory along with the all-important two points. A change to the championship format for 2020 up to last year now sees the top two in each of the four Intermediate Championship groups advance to the Quarter-Finals so there is added incentive for every team at this grade to advance to the final stages.
Milltown/Castlemaine were dealt two injury blows leading into today’s contest as the influential duo of Gavin Horan and Dylan O’Neil were both sidelined. Of course, when such bad luck falls upon these individuals, the other side of the coin would say it presents opportunities for others to put their hand up and stake their claim for a starting spot. Prior to throw-in, there was two changes on the Milltown/Castlemaine side from the match programme. In came Jerome Flynn as a direct replacement for Dylan O’Neil whilst John Dennehy replaced Killian Kerins at Wing-Forward. Waterville also had a change from the programme with Oran Clifford coming in for Jamie Donnelly.
Jonathan O’Sullivan kicked the opening point of the game inside two minutes on the turn for Milltown/Castlemaine to get the scoreboard working for the Mid Kerry side. Waterville midfielder Cormac O’Sullivan responded in kind in the fifth minute and pointed a long-range effort to tie matters up at 0-1 to 0-1. It was to be all one-way traffic for the South Kerry men for the next ten minutes as they seemed to settle the better of the two sides and after the energetic Sam O’Dwyer pointed excellently to make it 0-2 to 0-1 in their favour in the ninth minute before a rather poor goal to concede from a Milltown/Castlemaine perspective in the 13th minute, punched to the net after Cormac Leane initially making a good save, the rebound wasn’t dealt with and in popped Alan O’Dwyer to fist home out of the hands of a Milltown/Castlemaine player. Oran Clifford extended this lead further with a point from play and had the Mid Kerry men in seemingly big trouble at the midway point of the first half at 1-03 to 0-1.
Waterville will probably point to the next action as a critical move in halting their momentum as a water-break took place for both sides (Part of the new rules for the GAA resumption at the middle juncture of either half). Milltown/Castlemaine will again on the flipside to the above say that it came at an ideal stage for them as they regrouped and went again with renewed impetus.
There is no doubt that it was a factor as following the restart, Milltown/Castlemaine would finish the half with six of the last eight scores with the South Kerry side only adding two points to their total from the first fifteen minutes in the form of two Barry O’Dwyer 14 yard frees. David Roche, who had an outstanding game from centre-forward and the first of what would be two super scores from marauding wing-back Gavin McKenna as well as a Brendan Delaney point which was calmly slotted over seen Waterville’s lead cut to 1-4 to 0-4 after 25 mins. Gavin McKenna (always a good man for an attacking jaunt from deep) notched his second point in a matter of minutes after some neat interchange play with Jerome Flynn, Pa Wren with a terrific long distance score and an equaliser from David Roche had matters back at 1-4 to 0-7. Barry O’Dwyer through a free after he was deemed to have been fouled off the ball seemed to have given Waterville a narrow lead at the break but Craig Counihan popped up with the score and a great effort it was too going away from the goal 30 metres out which ensured both sides retired at the interval level-pegging at 1-5 to 0-8.
The second half seen Milltown/Castlemaine and Waterville go toe-to-toe for the first fifteen minutes and there was very little to separate both sides during this stage of the match. It was really only when the game began to open up in the final quarter that Milltown/Castlemaine kicked for home and ran out convincing winners. The half-time break ironically and in total contrast to the earlier stoppage actually seemed to have suited the South Kerry side more and it showed in the early stages of the second half as Waterville started brighter and Fergal Cronin had them ahead at 1-6 to 0-8 by the 32nd minute. There was also two wides thereafter which could have pushed the lead out further in their favour but ultimately this would the last time they would lead in this game as Milltown/Castlemaine came again and started to take over, tightening up defensively, winning the midfield battles and above all finding the scores easier to come by.
Following superb build-up play coming in along the end line from a rather subdued Jonathan O’Sullivan up to that point, he played in Cathal Moriarty (Another quiet figure up to this point) and he made no mistake, palming the ball over the on-rushing Waterville goalkeeper to make it 1-9 to 1-6. It was a sign that these two top-quality players, who when on-song are crucial to this side and can often be un-markable had upped their game and were ready to guide their team to victory. More hard work from Man of the Match in my view today David Roche seen him dispossess Waterville coming out of defence and he set up Moriarty unselfishly to widen the gap to four points on 46 mins at 1-10 to 1-6. Sam O’Dwyer kept the contest alive for Waterville immediately after with an instant reply from distance in open play but Moriarty and O’Sullivan were on a different level for Milltown/Castlemaine by now and they added two fine points in the 52nd and 55th mins to make it 1-12 to 1-7, Moriarty had a goal on but opted to take the safer option, O’Sullivan cutting inside the corner-back, onto his weaker left and effortlessly slotting over.
There was a water-break again just before these two scores and an extended break here due to an injury suffered by Craig Counihan who had to be stretchered off. We wish him the very best in his rehabilitation as its never nice to see anyone carried away like this.
A strong finish from Milltown/Castlemaine seen them add a further 1-3 as points from Pa Wren, Jonathan O’Sullivan and Cathal Moriarty and a goal from substitute Killian Kerins following brilliant build-up play from O’Sullivan when evading the attention of a number of defenders seen the score-line widen to ten points at the games conclusion. Probably a bit cruel on Waterville to lose out so heavily at the end, they were well in this game approaching the latter stages but our lads can be justifiably proud of a strong finish, showing tremendous fitness levels
Final Score: Milltown-Castlemaine 2-15 v 1-08 Waterville
Cormac Leane, Stephen Roche, Ciaran O’Connor, Jonathan O’Connor, Jeremiah Hayes, Gavin McKenna (0-2) , Pa Wren (0-2), Brendan Delaney (0-1), Donal Dennehy, John Dennehy, David Roche (Capt, 0-2), Craig Counihan (0-1), Jonathan O’Sullivan (0-3), Cathal Moriarty (1-4), Jerome Flynn
Killian Kerins (1-0), Kieran O’Carroll, Tadgh McCarthy
Milltown/Castlemaine will now take on Dromid Pearses in Round 2 (Date & Venue TBC)
In the other group game, Glenbeigh/Glencar will meet Waterville (Date & Venue TBC)
Well done to Paul Fitzmaurice, Liam Kelliher, Jeremiah Murphy and Damian Murphy (Management Team), the wider support network of club officials and of course the entire panel who contributed to today's well deserved victory.
Thanks to the supporters who were able to attend also this afternoon and really got behind the lads in a safe, socially distanced Covid-19 GAA world.
To all those unable to attend, I would like to remind you all that the game is now available to view on our club Facebook page from the comfort of your home with special mentions owed to Damien McCarthy and John Foley for making this possible.
Also, well done as always to the PRO team who looked after Facebook/Twitter/Instagram updates for today and took many photos which are a nice feature of the occasion.