Coolderry vs UCD report

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Lone Shark
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Coolderry vs UCD report

Post by Lone Shark » Fri Nov 19, 2004 12:42 am

2004 is over. Curtain drawn, audience filing out politely. No encores requested. What can safely be said to be one of the worst years for Offaly GAA both on and off the pitch in at least my living memory has drawn to an appropriate conclusion, and I’d say if even Methuselah was inclined to stand on a terrace wearing the Carroll Cuisine he’d have to think long and hard to find a match for it as well.

With all due respect for Belmont and Kilclonfert, still in contention for their respective Leinster junior club championships, the last serious hope for any Offaly championship silverware of any kind took the field in Portlaoise yesterday, and faced with tough opposition and a few breaks going against them, they rolled their sleeves up – and then took the jersey off entirely, undid their laces, had a shower and went home.

Being frank, this UCD team is a serious outfit, and without having seen either of the Munster sides in action yet this year, it’s hard to imagine any club side carrying a more loaded deck than the college. For all the talk of “United Nations” and “Harlem Globetrotters” etc, there’s no question but the biggest asset this side has, and by far and away the biggest advantage they’ll hold over any club side is the sheer depth of good competent hurlers they have to call on. While Murphy was good, and Barry, Lucey, Hogan and O’Connor never let the side down, it was the players that would pass under the radar of all those followers neither from that player’s county, or those not blessed with a thorough encyclopaedic knowledge of the game that made all the difference. Mick Fitzgerald at full back, Daragh Walton at wing back, Brian Barry in midfield and Bryan Phelan at centre forward all made big contributions to a very solid UCD display yesterday, and if what I saw yesterday represents their true form, they can all consider themselves unlucky not to be born in counties of greater need where their talents would be plied on the intercounty stage.

Coolderry made the brighter start yesterday, but the similarities with Rhode’s display last weekend were uncanny. Coolderry also started with two early points, they also struggled to take full advantage of some good possession won in the half backs, also conceded a poor goal to fall behind, and also found themselves stranded on 0-4 for a long time, although at least they broke past that in the end.

Those early points were followed by UCD, and Brian Barry in particular, taking a hold on the game around the middle of the park. The college engineered a few frees to get themselves back into it, and then hit the front with an Eamon Ryan goal when more decisive defending could have dealt with the issue. An atrocious run of wides for Coolderry, only broken by Murray successfully converting a 65 nearing half time sapped their confidence away, and left them the goal down at half time, in what was a very low scoring encounter. Their backs can consider themselves unlucky, as to go in behind after restricting a good UCD attack to 1-4 in the first half, only one point of which was from a starting forward was good going. They delivered good quality ball up front, which all too often has majestically dealt with and swept back by Fitzgerald. Tooher and Teehan down the centre of the Coolderry attack really could not get to grips with the game, although Tooher in particular ended up with the crowd on his back as his lack of grace and touch was all too apparent very often. Murray didn’t impose himself on the game, Parlon was struggling to find ball in his vicinity, although he used what he got quite well, and Carroll let himself and his club down with an ineffective display, generally shirking responsibility and disappearing whenever his club needed him most.

As the second half started, Brian Hogan began to lord matters at wing back, and many UCD attacks were started from his fine high fielding and good delivery, not to mention one glorious point on the run he scored himself. Points from Redmond Barry, Murphy and Phelan along with Hogan’s saw UCD move into a 6 point lead as Coolderry’s attack became even more toothless as time went on. Pat O’Connor was called on, but good and all hurler as he is, a flu-ridden 41 year old is always going to be put to the pin of his collar to do anything against odds like this. The game began to peter out, as though Coolderry continued to battle, they never looked remotely like worrying the students.

From a county perspective, there’s good and bad. On the UCD side, Murphy was sharp, accurate, and kept his cool as he was being cynically needled throughout the last quarter of the match. Brian Buckley also got a run out as sub, which in the long term is encouraging as this was a fine backline, which carried no passengers. Even with Coolderry there was good, bad and indifferent. The Brady bunch at 5 and 6 were the best on the side by a mile. Joe in particular made several fine catches and clearances, and although I will confess to being a longstanding Joe fan, I genuinely believe that the county 6 jersey should be his to lose for the start of the league campaign. He has sped up his striking considerably, and if he continues to gain strength and power at this rate, he could end up getting head hunted by the All Blacks to play inside centre or blindside flanker or something. Kevin continued to be tidy, on top of his man, and generally in control. Barry Teehan didn’t quite make up a holy trinity with them, but a mediocre showing in the second half still left me with an overall impression of a player who should be only a county panellist, but with the right opposition could do a job yet.

After that it gets unpleasant. Martin Corcoran’s striking remains painfully slow, and he was often hooked and blocked. Left no ounce of energy behind though, and looks to be more of a long term half forward, if he can speed up his wrists a little bit. Carroll, as mentioned, lacked sharpness of thought, while Murray floated around but lacked menace. Parlon is still a savage weapon in the air for an 18 year old, and you’d hope to see his development continue. If it does he’ll be either a very good U-21 or even senior in due course. It’s very hard to avoid the worry that he’ll be hurried along too soon though, much like Carroll before and Hayden at the moment.

With 2005 in mind, it was also deeply worrying to see the way that Barry and Phelan, both average club hurlers in Kilkenny were able to make such an impact in a game against our county champions. As was remarked already, the long grass gets longer…..

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