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No stopping Killala bandwagon

Killala supporters surround Martin Farrell
PRIDE OF THE PARISH Killala supporters surround Martin Farrell after their team’s victory last weekend. Pic: Michael Donnelly

No stopping Killala bandwagon

Killala    1-5
Fulham Irish 0-3

Edwin McGreal

WHO put the ball in the Fulham net on Saturday? West Ham’s Bobby Zamora and Yossi Benayoun will be the names most people think of.
But Killala’s Martin Farrell can throw his name in there too. He scored the crucial goal against Fulham Irish at Fr O’Hara Park and while Benayoun’s first goal for the Hammers might have been top class, Farrell bettered it.
Nineteen minutes into the first half Killala had just gone 0-2 to no score clear thanks to a second Marcus Hannick free. Fulham ‘keeper Kevin Winters took the resultant kick-out but mis-hit it right into the path of Farrell.
Forty metres from goal the wing-forward still had a lot of work to do but his chipped effort was delicately weighted, finding the back of the net despite Winters getting a hand to it.
It was a lead which Killala wouldn’t surrender despite a tumultuous second period which included a controversial sending off  of  midfielder Noel Ryan for a red card offence.
The first half – Farrell’s goal aside – was pretty non-eventful. Marcus Hannick pointed two frees as Killala did their best to make the use of the strong wind at their backs blowing upfield from the road goal.
Fulham threatened very little and failed to score in the first half. It would be as late as the 25th minute before they even struck their first wide.
The visitors had a large support but Killala supporters packed out the stand in Charlestown, their All-Ireland odyssey clearly capturing the local imagination.
Killala began the second half with the smallest player on the pitch, Vinny Maguire, lining out at midfield. Nonetheless he fielded the first two balls that came his way. The first saw him link with Lorcan Brennan and Marcus Hannick before Gary Ferguson pointed on the burst from wing-back.
Fulham had the aid of the breeze in the second half but they were finding scores incredibly hard to come by. Central to explaining this was the Killala half-back line. Jerome Farrell held a vice like grip on the game at centre-half back and Lorcan Brennan beside him carried a plethora of ball into the opposition half.
Outstanding though was Gary Ferguson. The right half-back made countless interceptions, read everything well and was always comfortable in possession and when passing, despite the difficult conditions.
As a result little quality ball came into the Fulham full-forward line. They got their first point of the game after 36 minutes when Paddy Folan pointed a free and they made two changes shortly after in a bid to change things, including bringing on Ardnaree native Alan Kelly.
Kelly’s pace was clearly a threat but he rarely got the room to take advantage of it. It looked as if Fulham would have ample opportunity to change the game around though when Killala were reduced to fourteen men in the 39th minute.
Wing-forward Noel Nicholson was driving down the line in front of the stand when Killala midfielder Noel Ryan came to meet him. Ryan lined up a shoulder but Nicholson lost possession just as Ryan was in full flight. Ryan caught him smack on the shoulder but a free was given, rightly, as Nicholson didn’t have the ball.
Both men recoiled from the considerable impact with Ryan falling to his knees and blood streaming down his face. It appeared inevitable that he would be taken off but the stand gasped in collective shock when, as he made his way to his feet, referee Paul Finnegan brandished a straight red card.
A yellow card would have seemed more appropriate and Killala were furious with the decision. The ball was worked to Nicholson from the resulting free and Fulham had the gap back to four points.
Even with fourteen players though Killala created more chances than their opponents with David Lowther and Kevin Whyte off target with goal and point opportunities respectively.
Peter McGarr left just a goal between the teams when he fisted over the bar with six minutes to go but Killala, always the keener looking side, showed their desire from the resulting kick-out.
Rory Hannick, moved from full-forward to midfield after the sending off to very good effect, won the kick-out. After the ball had been moved through the hands of his brother, Marcus, and Vinny Maguire, the outstanding Martin Farrell, who had won practically every ball that made its way inside to him in the second half, pointed to settle any Killala nerves.
Fulham hardly threatened after this and when the inspirational Jerome Farrell was hauled down 25 metres from goal on the right side, Kevin Whyte  had the chance to put the game out of reach.
With a well-struck left footed free off the ground, he did exactly that. There was still an edge to proceedings afterwards but Killala had done enough and can now look forward to an All-Ireland semi-final at the end of February against Greencastle of Tyrone.

D Walsh; D Maguire, K Dooher, M Dooher; G Ferguson (0-1), J Farrell, L Brennan; M Hannick (0-2, 2fs), N Ryan; D Lowther, V Maguire, M Farrell (1-1); K Whyte (0-1, f), R Hannick, B Garvin. Subs: R Clarke for Garvin (48mins); P Bilbow for Lowther (59mins).
Fulham Irish
K Winters; P Ryan, G Hayes, K McGrath; S McKenna, M Farry, C Smyth; M McElroy, D Maher; N Nicholson, D Connolly, S O’Dwyer; E Davis, T O’Rourke, P Folan. Subs: A Kelly for Davis; P McGarr for O’Dwyer (both 37mins).

Referee: P Finnegan (Louth).

The Main man
Martin Farrell

IF for no other reason than his cheeky goal, Farrell was the difference between the teams. He also ran himself into the ground in the full-forward line in the second half, showing constantly and winning ball. Kicked a crucial point too late on.

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