Kiltimagh/Knock Utd 4
C Groarke 17, 45, J Gill 25, G Groarke 42
Fahy Rovers B 0
UNDER a murky midsummer sky at Milebush Park, Kiltimagh/Knock United got this game under way with a ferocity and sense of focus which did justice to this fixture and does them credit.
Their four-goal haul was just reward for their honesty, enterprise and adherence to timeless football virtues of teamwork, tempo and technique, which on another day, Fahy, I’m sure could match, but last Sunday, they could only labour manfully in the wake of a team not to be waylaid or denied.
With an excellent surface underfoot and an ever-combative opposition in Fahy Rovers B, the opening exchanges saw Kiltimagh/Knock show a greater desire to keep possession and stretch Fahy’s three-man backline. In the face of robust Rovers defending, their initial forays down the flanks yielded little, but set the template for what was to come.
Fahy’s main attacking outlet, Ross Higgins, was prompting down the right when after 17 minutes, Kiltimagh took possession and a lofted ball into the Fahy half squirted off John Creaby’s head into the path of Kiltimagh’s Conor Groarke, who casually beat his marker and placed his shot well clear of Paul Walsh in the Fahy goal.
With both teams prepared to give all in pursuit of possession, the crucible of midfield was where Kiltimagh/Knock’s superior passing and imagination yielded their second goal: an emphatic 20-yard free kick from John Gill after a skilful feint from Andy Leadbetter drew a foul from Fahy’s retreating centre backs.
Two goals down after 25 minutes, Fahy heads could have dropped. But the second goal must have felt like a splash of cold water on the face, as their best spell of the afternoon saw good link-up play down the right wing between Higgins and Larry Joyce, drawing a good save from Blake Forkan. Moments later, Forkan was forced into a gutsy double-save after neat work between Gary Concannon and Higgins.
If the impetus swung back in Kiltimagh’s favour at this point it was down to the leadership and intelligent running of skipper Leadbetter and the zip of Conor Groarke, whose ball control and eye for a pass was a highlight of the afternoon.
Fahy’s lively spell was abruptly ended on 42 minutes. Gary Concannon was robbed on halfway and Kiltimagh’s Gavin Groarke took possession in acres of space. Homing in on the advancing goalkeeper, he feinted to shoot, paused and as Paul Walsh went to ground, Groarke nonchalantly rounded the prone custodian and side-footed home from eight yards.
There was really no way back for the men in black and white after that and only three minutes later, with the half-time kettles being filled, Kiltimagh’s Conor Groarke was felled by a hefty John Creaby challenge which merited a yellow card and a fourth goal from the resultant free kick, scored by the mercurial number 10. A word on the goal: sublime. Groarke stepped up and arched the ball into the top left corner with all the languid nonchalance of a basketball pop-shot. Naughty.
The second half involved composed Kiltimagh/Knock possession as Fahy manfully laboured to land their punches. But whether due to fatigue or fatalism, they rarely breached the bridgehead of blue shirts barring their way. Leadbetter marshalled his team to keep their concentration and look to hurt the opposition at every turn. Whilst never complacent, the victors seemed to show more relish as the half wore on.
Fahy’s bench was a Buddhist temple of Zen-like restraint as the opposition gave them a vivid demonstration of the Four Noble Truths of football: tempo, technique, teamwork and temperament. Tired limbs and an insurmountable task began to squeeze the belief from the Fahy men after their best attempt, a smart stooping header from Seán O’Donnell was brilliantly parried away by Blake Horkan.
B Forkan, J Gill, C Kelly, P Jennings, B O’Donnell, D Higgins, G Groarke, R Glynn, A Leadbetter, C Groarke, JJ Glynn.
Sub used: D Higgins for Kelly; D Hynes for Leadbetter.
Fahy Rovers B
P Walsh, B Durkan, B Rourke, D Gibbons, J Creaby, G Vaidie, L Joyce, K Concannon, G Concannon, R Higgins, Seán O’Donnell.
Subs used: I Walsh for Higgins; R Feehan for Joyce; Stephen O’Donnell for Seán O’Donnell.
Referee: M Kelly