Venue: John Mitchell's GAA Complex, Tralee
Report By Dara O'Connor
The 2020 season began in earnest in challenging underfoot conditions on Sunday, March 1st when Milltown/Castlemaine took on Gneeveguilla in John Mitchell's GAA Complex, Tralee after the Paddy Burke Memorial Park in Milltown was deemed unplayable due to our recent spate of bad weather which undoubtedly has played havoc with many club fields across the County and Country. Division 6 is a new addition to the Senior County League system this season and features 11 'B' sides with Tuosist being the solitary 'A' side. These leagues are always guaranteed to serve up entertaining fare in an environment which is ultimately about giving lads games and integrating the youth from Minor or U21 football to the Senior bracket. It also presents opportunities for those who may wish to get back involved in the club with last year seeing almost 60 players get game time at 'B' or 'C' level so from that sense it serves an important purpose for our club and many others.
Milltown/Castlemaine got out of the blocks early doors and registered the opening 1-2 of this contest unanswered. A goal from Colin McKenna following a probing ball into the heart of the Gneeveguilla defence seen Michael Dennehy knock down a ball to the on-rushing McKenna who buried to the net. Further points from Jerome Flynn and captain Jamie O'Shea made it 1-2 to 0-0 by the 10th minute. It could and maybe should in hindsight have been a bigger lead but Jerome Flynn who had already registered a score seen a penalty saved excellently and diverted behind for a '45' whilst a succession of wides kept the East Kerry side in the match.
Gradually, Gneeveguilla weaved their way back into proceedings and had it game well and truly on by the 20th minute when 1-1 of their own had matters back to the smallest of margins with Milltown/Castlemaine leading 1-2 to 1-1. Further scores from Jerome Flynn off his perceived weaker left foot and a fisted point by Michael Dennehy who was causing consternation around the square after he knocked a dropping ball over the bar had it at 1-4 to 1-1 by the 25th minute but unperturbed Gneeveguilla finished the opening half with three points on the trot to leave it level at the interval at 1-4 apiece.
Whilst the first half may have been a bit of a slow burner being the opening game of 2020 for both teams which inevitably brought some rustiness to proceedings, the second half was anything but that with no fewer than five goals and 14 scores in total to keep the sizeable crowd attendance entertained.
Gneeveguilla without doubt came out of the blocks faster and had built up a nine point lead by the 45th minute with 2-3 without reply seeing them lead 3-7 to 1-4. Two great goals following over-laps seeing the game look essentially over with fifteen minutes remaining. However, Milltown/Castlemaine failed to give in, waking from their slumber in the process to reel the opposition in after a flurry of scores themselves. Substitute Derek Twiss scored two goals, one from the penalty spot and one a rocket into the top corner to make it 3-7 to 3-4 whilst further scores from the boot of Jerome Flynn and Twiss again had it back to a one point game at 3-7 to 3-6 to Gneeveguilla by the 55th minute. This lead for Gneeveguilla extended out to five however moments later as 1-1 for them with a superbly taken goal of their own from a substitute had a nice gap in it approaching injury time at 4-8 to 3-6. To the Milltown/Castlemaine lads credit they never gave in and battled until the final whistle and three more points from Jamie O'Shea, Derek Twiss after a goal bound attempt sailed over and Jerome Flynn had it back to a one score game at 4-8 to 3-9 well into the allocated injury time. Unfortunately there was no time left to bring Milltown/Castlemaine back to parity and the two points went to Gneeveguilla who got across the line with a slender victory.
Our lads will take plenty of positives from today and with a long 2020 ahead and a number of games and competitions there is a lot to look forward to. Last season many of our Junior B side went on to play a big part in our Senior 'A' teams Mid Kerry Championship victory underlining the importance of giving players a platform to aid their chances of progression. Whilst yesterday's result didn't go in our favour it shows how competitive we can be and shows the merit of having a second senior side in the County Senior Football League which is no mean feat in itself. For the first time ever in the clubs history we managed to field 3 Senior sides (A, B & C) and that shows how committed the club are to building for the future working with the large numbers in our community and offering them a means of showing their abilities at a level which suits each individual irrespective of age. Well done lads, better days are just around the corner!
Milltown/Castlemaine Team Lined Out As Follows:
Dara O'Connor, Aaron O'Brien, Damian Murphy, Patrick O'Connor, Mark Wren, Paul Carroll, Craig Counihan, Mike Burke, David Leane, Colin McKenna, Jerome Flynn, Kieran Griffin, Jamie O'Shea, Michael Dennehy, John Blenner Hassett
Subs: Adam Scanlon, David Murphy, Jack Griffin, Linus Og Burke, Alan Looney, Derek Twiss