TIGHT MARKING Kiltane sub’ Ciaran Carey is surrounded by Knockmore players last Sunday. Left to right are: Stephen Sweeney, Jason Coy and Craig Reape.
Knockmore win dour struggle
SFC QUARTER FINAL
AIDAN KILCOYNE stamped his class on this championship quarter-final at James Stephens Park as Knockmore cruised into the semi-final.But his talents alone were not enough to enliven a match dominated for the most part by his own team. In typical fighting fashion Kiltane squared up to Knockmore after the resumption, and although they vitalised the game with some determined play their resurgence was all too brief.Better balanced and well-prepared, the winners were confident on the ball, and while Kiltane exposed some weaknesses in their defence, they had the ability to power their way back whenever danger threatened.Those dodgy moments occurred early in both halves . . . and in the final few minutes. And if what appeared to have been a legitimate goal had not been disallowed in the seventh minute on Shane Lindsay, goodness knows how the Erris men might have reacted. It came when the corner forward rushed in to fist the ball to the net from a sideline centre, but was adjudged - wrongly in the opinion of this writer - to have been in the square before the ball arrived.
The sides were then on level terms at two points each. Lindsay had scored Kiltane’s two from frees and had begun to create some problems for the Knockmore defence. A goal at that stage would have been an incentive for greater effort.
Instead, for the remainder of the half all they could muster was a further two points as Knockmore established control in the vital sectors.
Ace free-taker Cormac Rowland opened their account in the fourth minute in response to Shane Lindsay’s opener. And Peter Clarke grabbed their second after Kilcoyne created the opening. It was the last time the sides would be level. Once Kieran Langan, a last minute replacement for Shane Sweeney, shot them into the lead in the 12th minute for the first time, thanks to a cool build-up by Kilcoyne and Kieran Butler, they never looked back.
They got good service from brothers Declan and Stephen Sweeney in the middle of the field, and their defence, influenced by Jason Coy, Andrew Keane, Trevor Howley and Dermot Keane, grew steadier and more confident as the game progressed.
Two points by Kilcoyne and Rowland followed Langan’s first at intervals of four minutes before Edmond Barrett had Kiltane’s third from a free in the 23rd minute. Kilcoyne’s point, after slicing through the defence, could have been a goal if his shot were a foot lower.
Three further points followed in succession, two from frees by the accurate Rowland, the other by Langan before Lindsay had Kiltane’s fourth in injury-time leaving a gap of four- 0-8 to 04 - between them at the interval.
Knockmore looked to have the game sewn up three minutes into the second half when they had their goal. And for a change Kilcoyne was not involved in the build-up. That was shared by Langan, Rowland and Damien Munnelly in the best move of the match which was completed by Kieran Butler palming the ball into the net.
It was the end for Kiltane, we thought. But for a few brief moments their play flared in response to that goal. They tore into the game, inspired by Pat Coyle and John Scanlon at midfield, and by the hard work of Pakie Sweeney, Rory Corrigan, Tony Gaughan and Padraic Bradley in defence.
Shane Lindsay led the counter-attack with his fourth point, and when Edmond Barrett was floored in the box, he took the penalty and slammed the ball beyond the reach of Derek Butler. Suddenly only three points separated them, and we looked to a cliff-hanger finish.
All of that action came inside the opening six minutes of the second half. But as the game entered the final quarter Knockmore had re-established their supremacy with two points by Damien Munnelly and another by Kilcoyne who was the team’s inspiration.
Yet, they had to battle grimly to hold onto their lead, and they can thank goalkeeper Derek Butler for his huge role in maintaining that lead. Twice he denied Kiltane at crucial stages in the game.
Ed Barrett had been moved to the edge of the square in the second half and together with Lindsay created endless trouble for the Knockmore defence. Michael Sweeney and Damien Carey had some good moments too.
D Butler; J Coy, A Keane, P Coleman; J Brogan, T Howley, D Keane; D Sweeney, Stephen Sweeney; A Kilcoyne (0-2), P Clarke (0-1), K Langan (0-2); D Munnelly (0-3), K Butler (1-0), C Rowland (0-4). Subs used: G Reape for P. Coleman; J Noone for Rowland.
D Munnelly; P Bradley, P Sweeney, R Corrigan; T Gallagher, T Gaughan, PJ Gaughan; P Coyle, J Scanlon; M Doherty, D Carey, PJ Lally; E Barrett (1-1), M Sweeney, S Lindsay (0-5). Subs: K Carey for M. Doherty; U Corrigan for PJ Lally.
Referee: M Murphy (Ballinrobe)
THE MAIN MAN
The Mayo star was their talisman, and nothing Kiltane did could counter the sparkling attacking play of the wing-forward.