Kinnitty got the better of Clodiagh Gaels in the first round of the Offaly SHC
CLODIAGH GAELS 0-12
THE Offaly senior hurling championship got off to a flying start in Banagher on Friday night as newcomers Clodiagh Gaels came up against Kinnitty. Clodiagh Gaels will be disappointed to have let the game slip from their grasp, especially having remained in a solid position until the final 10 minutes. Both sides left Banagher with plenty to think about, although there was plenty of promising hurling on show.
As the rain stayed away during much of the first half, it allowed for an exciting game of hurling. Fired up from throw-in, either team scrambled for the ball. Kinnitty got immediately underway with a James Hardiman free, only to be cancelled out by a David Buckley point from play. Possession was hard earned as play swayed from end to end, Clodiagh Gaels’ Dylan Hyland displaying grit and drive to keep Kinnitty’s full-forward line relatively quiet. Also of note was the battle between Kinnitty’s Shane Kinsella and Clodiagh Gaels' Joey Keenaghan, both standing out for their respective sides, displaying fine skill in the process.
As the rain returned Kinnitty managed to gain a foothold. The skilful Shane Kinsella pounced on a breaking ball to convert a score. He was a handful for Clodiagh Gaels charges. Kinnitty tried to play the ball through the lines, working it up the field with urgency. They edged in front after a long ball landed in a melee on the Clodiagh Gaels fourteen yard line. The sliotar suddenly fizzed across Kevin Kinahan’s goal only to be coolly dispatched by Odhrán Kealey. Even with this, the game remained in the balance as both sides traded scores stubbornly.
They were level pegging at half-time, after tough hurling in decent conditions. As the weather worsened, the affair became scrappier with chances going abegging at either end. Liam Langton kept his side ticking over with important scores, though the conditions made things difficult for the Clodiagh Gaels men. It was clear Kinnitty were prepared for their opponents main threats, doing everything in their power to stifle the Clodiagh Gaels attack. Paddy Delaney and James Hardiman were immense in the half backline, driving their team on, Brian Coughlan also having a confident performance.
The sloppy conditions matched much of the second half’s play, contributing to handling errors and wayward shooting. The game was fiercely fought and remained fair throughout, desire was in no way lacking. Although there were mistakes from both sides, this was an exciting battle. The passionate crowd really brought the atmosphere, marking the beginning of what will surely be an intriguing championship.
As the final whistle approached, Kinnitty pushed ahead with James Dempsey remaining clinical from frees. Clodiagh Gaels perhaps conceded too many frees, trying desperately to keep Kinnitty out. In fairness, Clodiagh Gaels were not far off their opponents. Cathal Curran was an important presence in midfield and Clint Horan a powerhouse in centre-back. Conor Langton also managed a fine score in the closing moments after a neat turn was followed by a tidy strike between the posts. Arguably the game’s standout score came from Kinnitty’s Danny Flanagan. The wing-back won the ball on the right and dispatched a monster score from way out, adding to his team’s lead.
Determined Clodiagh Gaels may have lost out in the end but they certainly showed they are capable of competing in Offaly hurling’s top tier. Kinnitty were more ruthless on the day, James Dempsey’s accuracy from the dead ball ultimately proving the difference. Kinnitty ran out as deserving winners.
CLODIAGH GAELS: Kevin Kinahan, Peter Walsh, Aaron Flanagan, Dylan Hyland, Cathal Brady, Clint Horan, Joey Keenaghan, David Buckley, Cathal Curran, Sean Brady, Liam Langton, Ruairi Dunne, Sean Rattigan, Conor Langton, Shane Dolan. Subs – Kieran Coonan, Mark Kelly, Mark Dunne, Kevin Beirne, Peter Berry, Joel Troy, Tom Dunne, Conor Brophill, Ben O’Brien, Ryan Kinaghan, Tiernan Grennan.
KINNITTY: Niall Corrigan, Willie Molloy, Paddy Rigney, Brian Coughlan, James Hardiman, Paddy Delaney, Danny Flanagan, Conor Hardiman, Bryan Donnelly, Shane Kinsella, Aodan Kealey, Jason Armstrong, Odhrán Kealey, James Dempsey, Tommy Leahy. Subs – Eoin Callaghan, Christopher Leonard, Colm Coughlan, Shane Ryan, Ciaran Carroll, Conor Meaney, Johnny Rigney, Seanie Carroll, Luke Standish, Cathal Flaherty, Adam Carroll, Eoghan Callaghan, Aaron Flaherty, Martin Lawlor, Keith Bergin.
REFEREE – Kieran Dooley
Kinnitty: James Dempsey (0-8, 0-7f), Odhrán Kealey (1-1), Shane Kinsella (0-2), Conor Hardiman, James Hardiman (0-1f), Jason Armstrong and Danny Flanagan (0-1 each).
Clodiagh Gaels: Liam Langton (0-5, 0-3f), Cathal Brady (0-2f) and Conor Langton (0-2 each), David Buckley, Cathal Curran and Sean Brady (0-1 each).
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