TAKE That and Gary Barlow are enjoying a renaissance in the pop charts and on Good Friday at Kilcormac it was the magnificent Conor Gath and 2010 intermediate champions Drumcullen, in their first SHC outing since ’08, that stole the limelight at the expense of squander-mania hit Shamrocks.
Aided by the strong breeze, Shamrocks enjoyed a 0-10 to 0-5 half-time advantage but they racked up some terribly unsightly wides. They’d nine wides and were up to 13 by the 40th minute (by which stage Drumcullen hadn’t hit a single wide!). Shamrocks ended the hour with 16 wides, six more than the ‘Sash’. It was a luxury Donal Franks side could ill afford and it is a serious dent to their quarter-final aspirations especially since they face reigning champions Coolderry in the next round.
Drumcullen’s Damien Spain was gifted a 32nd minute goal, 1-7 to 0-10, and this represented the first of four occasions the sides were deadlocked – they were also tied 1-9 to 0-12 (40 mins), 1-10 to 0-13 (53 mins) & 1-11 to 0-14 (56 minutes).
Before a brace of late points executed by John Cashin and Conor Gath, following good defensive work by Dermot ‘Gosh’ Gath and Stephen Ryan, respectively, sealed the deal for determined and economical Drumcullen who lined out minus Nicky Lalor and Alan Maher (injured). Bizarrely, after Conor Gath made it 1-9 to 0-12, wind assisted Drumcullen were gripped by the wides bug too, registering eight misses before they scored again.
When the pressure came on them, Shamrocks deployed half forward Paddy Kelly as a seventh defender and this tactic didn’t work. Whereas most moves made by Drumcullen boss Paddy Kirwan worked out.
Conor Gath was the star man and orchestrated the show after his switch to centre forward where he cleaned out Karl Mollin. Harry Ryan switched into centre back and after an indifferent first half where he looked lethargic he upped his performance considerably and grabbed two fine points.
The late move of John Cashin away from mid-field coincided with him grabbing the lead 58th minute point, 1-12 to 0-14, and that was the first occasion the ‘Sash’ hit the front. Niall O’Leary and Danny Maher defended resolutely for the winners and Damien Spain pounced smartly to punish the disastrous short puck-out that totally unhinged Shamrocks.
For all the possession they enjoyed Shamrocks didn’t seriously threaten Alan Mannion’s goal – the closest they came to a green flag was from a teasing 13th minute Derek Molloy sideline cut that Mannion dealt with quite well.
Young Ciaran Buckley had a fine hour in the Shamrocks rearguard and granted, while Neville Coughlan is still building back up fitness after a serious operation, he probably should have been moved from corner back to track Conor Gath. Derek Molloy, Brian Kearney and Padraig Hannon got some decent scores but it was an indictment of their attack they finished with only fourteen points and failed to secure victory.
Shamrocks led 0-7 to 0-3 after 21 minutes. Kearney (2), Derek Molloy (2), Hannon and Shane Molloy (2) supplied their points, with Gath (free), Tom Lalor and Spain on target for Drumcullen. Gath converted two frees and in between these Jimmy Conway landed a free from 100 plus metres. Shamrocks ended the half with points from the Molloy brothers – Shane (free) and Derek (following a wide call that referee, Ciaran Groome overturned).
Shamrocks five-point half time cushion was wiped out in a blink. Gath (free) and Harry Ryan slotted over quick fire points and then Spain rattled the twine, 1-7 to 0-10. Points from Darragh Minnock and Derek Molloy helped shell shocked Shamrocks regain the lead, 0-12 to 1-7 after 37 minutes. Two Gath points levelled it and Shamrocks were on 13 wides before Drumcullen had their spell of eight wides in a row (from the 41st to 50th minutes).
Drumcullen, after being let off the hook, were hungrier over those closing twenty minutes and deserved their win and next up for them is a clash with Birr.
DRUMCULLEN: Alan Mannion; Danny Maher, William Spain, Niall O’Leary; Harry Ryan (0-2), Stephen Ryan (capt.), Dermot Gath; John Cashin (0-1), Declan Teehan; Donal Guinan, Pearse Gath, Damien Spain (1-1); Conor Gath (0-8, 0-4 frees), Tom Lalor (0-1), David Spain. Subs.: Ray Gath for D Guinan (41 mins), Shane Molloy for T Lalor (55 mins).
SHAMROCKS: Niall Darcy; Declan Conroy, Jimmy Conway (capt., 0-1 free), Neville Coughlan; Kevin Cummins, Karl Mollin, Ciaran Buckley; Darragh Minnock (0-1), Adrian Minnock; Padraig Hannon (0-2), Brian Kearney (0-2), Paddy Kelly; Shane Molloy (0-3, 0-1 free & 0-1 ’65), Derek Molloy (0-5), Alan Foster. Sub.: Kevin Mooney for S Molloy (57 mins).
REFEREE: Ciaran Groome, Bracknagh.
SEE THIS WEEK’S OFFALY EXPRESS FOR FULL REPORTS ON ALL SIX FIRST ROUND GAMES