Coolderry 3-10 Kinnitty 2-11

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Lone Shark
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Coolderry 3-10 Kinnitty 2-11

Post by Lone Shark » Tue Oct 04, 2005 6:44 pm

A recurring theme among those in the stand for Sunday’s two semi finals was the cost of €15 for admission. You didn’t have to strain your ear too much to hear somebody within a few feet making mention of how expnsive it was, and in particular by half time of this second match, with Coolderry in front by ten, Birr having won by a street in the first game, the grumbling was reaching record levels.

By the end of the game there was no complaining. While there was a lot in this match to displease the purist, and if there was a referee’s observer in the crowd he’ll have gone home a shocked and appalled man, no-one could complain about the entertainment value of the game they had just witnessed. Most were too out of breath with excitement to even say anything at all.

The sad part of this however, is that the close finish that we were all privileged to witness on Sunday evening was down almost completely to the referee. At half time Coolderry were ten to the good at 3-7 to 0-6, not having dominated but instead having slowly sucked the life out of Kinnitty with some fine opportunism and suffocating defence. However it was clear that Martin Kirwan was neither keeping up adequately with play, nor was he willing to make the hard calls when they were necessary, and as a result in the second half Kinnitty went on to the field with a very physical approach, and indeed transgressed the rules in a very serious way in more than one occasion, and due to Kirwan’s reluctance to send anyone to the line, their tactics yielded rewards. While Kinnitty followers will no doubt point out the lack of injury time – he played only 1:40, when at least four minutes if not five would have been warranted – and he also waved away a penalty claim towards the end of the game when this observer at least felt that a foul was committed, against this he should have sent off two Kinnitty players, and would have been within his rights to send off two more for various off the ball and dangerous offences.

A rivalry like this was always likely to lead to a fast and furious opening, and so it transpired. Both sides were sparing no timber in their attempts to get on top early on, and Matthew McRedmond was the first scorer of the game when he converted from 40m out on the left hand side after two minutes. Coolderry had a chance to level two minutes later, and ended up going in front. Brian Carroll went back to take a long range free, roughly 90 metres from the Kinnitty goal. His effort was on target, but dropped just short, and was blocked outwards. Coolderry have proved in a couple of games this year that they are lethal with breaking balls in and around the goalmouth, and this was no exception, as Damien Murray was the in the right place and the right time and struck a clean ground shot to the net.

He and Richie McRedmond traded frees before we had the first really wrong call of the game. A long ball into the Coolderry full back line broke to John Clendennin, who had a clear goalscoring opportunity, only to be wrestled to the ground by Shane O’Connor in the Coolderry goals. The resultant 20m free was converted, but a goal chance that would in all likelihood have been scored was turned into a mere point as a result of a foul, and the transgressor was not even booked. Ideally a red card would be brandished for such cynicism, but the rules don’t allow for that, so a yellow was the most that could have been given. That it wasn’t was a clear indication that this ref did not want to punish fouls, a fact that players and management picked up on as the game went on.

Brian Carroll was the next scorer, and his point was cancelled out by one of the best points of the game – a fantastic cross field pass by Justin Kinsella finding John Clendennin who finished well. This left a single point between the sides at 1-2 to 0-4, and the feeling was that if Coolderry were going to avoid relinquishing their crown there and then, a big performance was going to be necessary.

From then until half time, that’s exactly what we got. Scores from Murray and Carroll increased the lead, before Kirwan once again displayed his lenient approach, keeping his red card in his pocket when it was warranted. A shot from Carroll rebounded back off the upright into the area, and amid the skirmish, Kinnitty keeper Liam Bergin took advantage of the cover of players to swing wildly and pull across Joe Brady’s stomach while the ball was on the ground. The penalty was awarded, and Kirwan went to consult with his umpire, who appeared to confirm exactly what had happened. Inexplicably, for such a dangerous stroke, a yellow card was issued along with the penalty. The penalty itself was taken by Murray and finished well high and to the left of the keeper.

Carroll and Joe Brady extended the lead, before a McRedmond free broke the run of Coolderry scores. This reprieve was short lived however, as another goal was to be registered on 24 minutes. A long range free was hit into the goalmouth by Shane O’Connor, and while Bergin was waiting for the ball to drop into his hand, the faintest of touches from Joe Brady diverted the ball past him and into the net. One more score each was exchanged before the half time whistle was blown.

Ten points was a healthy half time lead, but a phenomenal start by Kinnitty to the second half reduced it to a much more sickly three. Not sixty seconds had elapsed when John Clendennin received the ball on the left of the goals and squeezed a shot past O’Connor at the near post to start the run. Murray replied with a free before Clendennin had his second goal, finishing off a good move started by an Andy McRedmond run from midfield. Substitute Ray Carroll and blood sub Mark Robinson were next on scoresheet, as the Kinnitty boys were flying.

By now the source of so much of their good play was the dominance of their half back line, who were letting little or nothing past them. McRedmond was as steady as ever, and James Rigney was keeping up his fantastic form of this year sweeping up balls left right and centre, to the point where unless anyone does anything fantastic in the final, he’d be Lone Shark’s club player of the year. However people saying Coolderry haven’t been playing that well this year are clearly not factoring in their defence which has been immaculate. Joe Brady was brought back into defence to shore up matters, and although the game was competitive, and Kinnitty were on top, they still went fifteen minutes without scoring, though Coolderry’s only response was a monster 90m free from Carroll.

On 19 minutes the second unbelievable escape for a Kinnitty player took place. Stephen Molloy was on a yellow card, and as O’Connor was taking a puck out, he dug his hurl into the ribs of Kevin Brady, and left Brady in need of attention on the ground. It was a cowardly act, and well worthy of a straight red and three month holiday from hurling. The ref didn’t see it, which was understandable given where the ball was, but again the umpire saw it, and clearly identified Molloy and indicated what had happened. Kirwan went up to Molloy, and to give him a straight red would have been fair, a second yellow would have been chickening out but good enough for Coolderry, and any less was a travesty. He motioned to Molloy that he was caught, and unbelievably, just warned him. Perhaps the fact that he hadn’t sharpened the butt of his hurl in order to stab him properly was worthy of leniency in this ref’s eyes, but one way another clearly anything short of using bladed weapons on the field is not worthy of a dismissal.

Molloy had been quite effective throughout, and feeling like a cat on life number ten, he continued to win ball and drive at the Coolderry defence. The scores from play had dried up however, and though substitute Colm Coughlan hit over a 65 and then a free on 21 and 24 minutes respectively, a further Murray free kept them at arms length. There was plenty of time for more controversy though, and when Coughlan hit over his third dead ball on twenty seven minutes, leaving the famed “most dangerous lead in hurling” the tension was palpable.

Kinnitty had got to where they were by hitting hard with little or no regard for the rules in the second period, and there was a certain justice in the last erroneous call in the game. The ball was moved in towards the Coolderry goal, and Justin Kinsella had an opportunity to pull off the ground, only to be stopped, apparently by a push in the back from Brendan O’Meara. The foul was missed – Kirwan was in his favoured position smack bang in the centre of the field at the time – and play was soon halted after a grossly inadequate amount of injury time bearing in mind all that had gone on.

If it appears like I’m being a bit harsh on Mr Kirwan, it most be noted that this is the second game in a row where his lack of control has caused serious problems in a championship fixture in Offaly. His tendency not to whistle and only signal with his arms is downright dangerous, since some players are realising a free has been signalled, while others are playing on unawares, and often hitting players who have stopped up. He misses countless incidents due to his unwillingness to break into even as much as a jog, and his reluctance to punish appropriately leads to players taking dangerous liberties. The contrast between his performance and the assured and controlled display from Brian Gavin in the first match is too stark not to be noted.

Regarding Coolderry’s prospects in the final, it would be very easy to remark on how they haven’t scored as much as Birr have, but equally neither have they conceded as much. On paper it looks like Birr had tougher opponents, but it was teams from Coolderry’s group who made the semis. Finally it would be easy say that that Kinnitty team highlighted a weak link in the Coolderry team, and how they are vulnerable to a somewhat robust approach. Yet a robust approach is the one thing we can be guaranteed Birr won’t use. They’ll attempt to hurl and pass their way to the title much as they have done so far, and they’ll find Coolderry a much tougher nut to crack in that regard than any other team they’ve met so far. Birr could easily win by ten, but I suspect there’s a twist or two in this tale yet.


Coolderry: Shane O’Connor; Trevor Corcoran, Brendan O’Meara, Alan Corcoran; Kevin Brady, Barry Teehan, Kevin Teehan; James Masterson, Martin Corcoran; Cathal Parlon, Brian Carroll (0-4, 0-1 free), Dermot Dooley; Danny Masterson, Joe Brady (1-1), Damien Murray (2-5, 0-3 frees, 1-0 penalty).

Subs: Paddy Teehan for Dermot Dooley, Andrew Hall for James Masterson

Kinnitty: Liam Bergin; Paddy Whelan, Fearghal Kealey, Liam Bergin; James Rigney, Andrew McRedmond, Liam Brewer; Mick Cleere, Enda Grimes; Justin Kinsella, Stephen Molloy, Matthew McRedmond (0-1); Richie McRedmond (0-4, frees), Paul O’Donnell, John Clendennin (2-1).

Sub: Colm Coughlan (0-3, 0-2 frees, 0-1 ’65) for Enda Grimes, Ray Carroll (0-1) for Mick Cleere, Mark Robinson (0-1) for Justin Kinsella – Blood Sub.

Referee: Martin Kirwan

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