WALSH Island opened their championship campaign with a win last Sunday in Killurin but it was St Rynagh’s who were left to rue a raft of missed chances that could easily have swung the result in their favour.
Tullamore Court Hotel Offaly Senior Football Championship
Walsh Island 0-11
St Rynagh’s 0-8
Over the hour (plus 11 minutes total injury-time), St Rynagh’s scored only eight points but they also kicked nine wides, dropped five shots short while six efforts on goal were blocked, deflected or came off the woodwork meaning that of 28 scoring opportunities, they only converted eight.
At the other end Walsh Island found the target 11 times and only kicked four wides and wasted very little else. That gapping disparity in the number of chances converted into scores was the telling difference between the teams.
The crucial period in the game was the ten minutes after half-time as Walsh Island moved from 0-5 to 0-4 up at the break into a six point lead thanks to five unanswered points, three from the boot of Alan Mulhall who switched to corner-forward from midfield.
Before Walsh Island scored again late in the game, St Rynagh’s had enough chances to overtake their opponents but on the day their finishing let them down badly. The only player to score more than once from play was wing-back Paul Quirke.
With Walsh Island playing in St Broughan’s colours and St Rynagh’s playing in their impressive black changed jersies, both sides were on the mark in the early exchanges and after five minutes they were locked at 0-2 apiece. Willie Mulhall and Stephen Quirke exchanged points and Rory Connor’s fourth minute effort was quickly cancelled out by marauding St Rynagh’s wing-back Paul Quirke.
While St Rynagh’s had the better of it in terms of territory and possession, they didn’t score again until the 22nd minute. In the meantime they hit four wides, one shot dropped short and they were unlucky to see a fisted effort from Paidi Mulhare, after a long ball in from Ciaran Flannery, bounce away off the bottom of the post midway through the half.
Points from Gary Comerford and Colm Gavin edged Walsh Island in front as they took advantage of the opportunities that came their way.
Niall Wynne and William Mulhall exchanged points to leave two between the sides but deep into first-half injury-time, after another three wides, St Rynagh’s eventually closed the gap to one when corner-back Stephen Clancy was on target.
That should have set them up for a good run in the second-half but Walsh Island enjoyed their best period in the ten minutes after half-time as they notched five points without reply.
Three of the points came from Alan Mulhall, two from frees and one an impressive over the shoulder effort. Gary Comerford curled over a very impressive point off the outside of his right foot while Ross Connor came up from the back to bang over a left-footed free from wide on the right.
That put Walsh Island 0-10 to 0-4 clear but St Rynagh’s were still creating plenty of chances and quick-fire points from Paul Quirke and Niall Wynne from a free got them back within four.
In the next ten minutes they somehow failed to add to their total despite creating a whole host of opportunities.
They came closest with shots from Stephen Quirke and Joseph O’Connor but both were blocked by Walsh Island defenders while St Rynagh’s also dropped three shots short.
A point from Niall Wynee eight minutes from time got them back within three and two minutes later they came within a whisker of drawing level but a ball that was fisted across the square from a ‘45 fell kindly for Walsh Island and was cleared.
Further shots from Odhran McIntyre and Enda Corcoran were also blocked by defenders but if all those shots at goal had been pointed, St Rynagh’s would have been well in the lead.
With the game now into injury-time, they knew it wasn’t going to be their day when a dropping ball was volleyed goalward with powere by Ciaran Flannery but Ross Connor’s head was in the right place and while the Walsh Island man knew little about it, the ball hit him and bounced away to safety.
After more than 20 minutes without a score, Alan Mulhall pointed a long range free to give Walsh Island some breathing space and while Paidi Mulhare pointed a spectacular late effort for St Rynagh’s, the final whistle went securing a vital win for Walsh Island.
Referee Padraig Pierce played a total of seven and a half minutes injury-time in the second-half and credit is due to the official for doing so as there were numerous stoppages for injuries to Walsh Island players. All too often referees play an arbitrary two or three minutes for no apparent reason other than that’s what is always played but the Raheen man made sure he took actual stoppages into account when calculating added time.
In the end however it wasn’t enough for St Rynagh’s who now are now under pressure in round two while Walsh Island have the luxury of two points in the bag although they will need to improve for the games ahead.
Walsh Island: Ian Duffy; James Gallagher, Ross Connor (0-1f), Rory Connolly; Matthew O’Connor, Rory Connor (0-1), Adrien Kiernan; Alan Mulhall (0-4, 0-3f), Michael Brereton; Colm Gavin (0-1), Thomas O’Connor, Thomas Brereton; Clive Murphy, Gary Comerford (0-2), William Mulhall (0-2). Subs: Colm Mulhall for William Mulhall (26mins) (inj); Adrian Kelly for Thomas O’Connor (66mins)
St Rynagh’s: Conor Clancy; Stephen Clancy (0-1), Tomas Flaherty, Joe Carroll; Paul Quirke (0-2), Ger Rafferty, Odhran McIntyre; James Rafferty, Joe O’Connor; Martin Grogan, Ciaran Flannery, Gary Mahon; Stephen Quirke (0-1), Niall Wynne (0-3, 0-2f), Paidi Mulhare. Subs: Pat Camon for Martin Grogan (51mins), Enda Corcoran for Stephen Quirke (51mins)
Referee: Padraig Pierce