DAMIEN Murray stroked over an injury time equaliser from a free won by Brian Carroll as reigning Leinster and Offaly SH champions Coolderry salvaged a draw with battling Kilcormac/Killoughey in a reasonably entertaining SHC opener at St Brendan’s Park on Friday evening.
Aidan Bracken Building Design SHC
Coolderry, minus the injured Joe Brady, lined out with just six players hurling in the positions they were listed in the official programme and Ken Hogan’s side began with serious intent.
They’d two points on the scoreboard inside 41 seconds courtesy of Barry Teehan and Kevin Connolly and they quickly doubled their advantage, 0-4 to nil, after Eoin Ryan and Connolly again bisected the uprights.
K/K, under new manager Danny Owens and seriously depleted owing to the absence of Daniel Currams, Brian Leonard and the Grogan twins – Kevin & John, steadied the ship after their sluggish opening and they drew level for the first of five occasions in the encounter with a goal from a 21m free by their captain Ciaran Slevin, 1-3 to 0-6, after James Gorman was fouled.
With the gauntlet flung down to them, Coolderry responded impressively, hitting an unanswered 1-3 and giving them a six-point advantage, 1-9 to 1-3, after 21 minutes. The busy Carroll, Cathal Parlon and Murray (free) accounted for the points with Martin Corcoran showing strength and determination to barge in for the goal.
K/K got the tonic of a 29th minute goal, 2-6 to 1-10, thanks to a powerful Mark Leonard finish after a slick move involving Gorman and Slevin however Coolderry, who just once in eight games en-route to winning their 29th county title in 2011, leaked two goals were carved open rather easily. The half ended as it began, with a Barry Teehan point and the reigning champions held a two-point interval cushion, 1-11 to 2-6.
The teams were deadlocked for the second occasion after 42 minutes, 1-12 to 2-9, and they both spurned great opportunities to add their goals tally. Conor Mahon left Kevin Brady and Trevor Corcoran trailing in his slipstream but he blasted wide in the 38th minute and moments later K/K ‘keeper Conor Slevin stood his ground well to deny Ryan with his feet. Both sides tallied ten wides over the hour.
Carroll’s 44th minute point edged Coolderry in front by the minimum before they fell two adrift, 1-13 to 2-12, after Slevin converted a hat-trick of frees in succession (indeed K/K’s final six points of the tie from the 42nd minute onwards all came from Slevin frees leading to frustrated Coolderry fans directing their anger at reiteoir Tony Carroll).
With seven minutes remaining, K/K, who has never won the Sean Robbins Cup, were still two clear, 2-13 to 1-14. Coolderry dug deep and levelled it for the fourth time with Murray (’65) and Parlon, now at full forward, on target.
Slevin brought his personal haul to 1-9 in the 57th minute as K/K regained the initiative and Coolderry were on tender hooks as Murray firstly spurned a ’65 (he also missed some frees he’d usually score earlier) but he made amends by calmly tapping over the equaliser.
And the champs, who were denied in their bid for All-Ireland honours by Loughgiel Shamrocks, almost nicked it as Parlon’s attempt was well blocked down.
Defensively Coolderry looked decidedly uncomfortable without the influence of Joe Brady. Cathal Parlon, Kevin Connolly, Brian Carroll and Barry Teehan picked off some nice scores while Eoin Ryan is struggling to recapture the form that made him one of the most lethal goal scorers of 2011.
In terms of scores from play K/K lost 1-5 to 1-11 but they’ll take plenty of heart from this battling performance. Ciaran Slevin, in addition to his frees, worked hard and their younger players – Peter, James & Thomas Geraghty, Kevin Coyne, Chris Guinan & Alan McConville stood up well too.
COOLDERRY: Stephen Corcoran; Brian Kelly, Brendan O’Meara (capt.), Alan Corcoran; David King, Kevin Brady, Trevor Corcoran; Kevin Teehan, Brian Carroll (0-2); Cathal Parlon (0-3), Barry Teehan (0-2), Martin Corcoran (1-0); Kevin Connolly (0-3), Eoin Ryan (0-1), Damien Murray (0-6, 0-4 frees & 0-2 ‘65’s). Subs.: Barry Larkin for E Ryan (46 mins), Stephen Connolly for T Corcoran inj (47 mins).
KILCORMAC/KILLOUGHEY: Conor Slevin; Chris Guinan, Ger Healion, Alan McConville; Killian Leonard, Peter Healion, Kevin Coyne; Damien Kilmartin, James Geraghty; Peter Geraghty, Conor Mahon (0-1), Mark Leonard (1-1); James Gorman (0-1), Ciaran Slevin (capt., 1-9 frees), Trevor Fletcher (0-2). Sub.: Thomas Geraghty for M Leonard (54 mins).
REFEREE: Tony Carroll, Kinnitty.