St Ultans 0-10 Cortown 0-10
Cortown produced what can only be described as a Houdini like comeback to salvage a point against bitter rivals St Ultan's in Bohermeen on Wednesday evening.
It was almost a carbon copy of last year's B league meeting in Bohermeen when like tonight, St Ultan's squandered a big lead and had to dig out a draw.
Cortown without the services of 7 key men including the likes of Gary Coyne, Glen Loughran, Skipper Coyne, Boots Clarke and Butch Casserly patched a team together comprised of old warhorses and young colt's which have yet to be broken took the field perhaps more in hope rather than expectation I think it would be fair to say.
Ultan's playing down a slight slippery slope and with a gentle breeze behind them made the faster start by far registering the first four scores on the trot coming from Darren Costello, Barry Brady, Alan Martin and Eoin Kavanagh respectively. Despite the quick start, it's not as if Ultans were battering Cortown with swashbuckling football, it was more a case of Cortown being wasteful in possession and in front of the posts.
Cortown did finally get up and running when Kevin McGuiness was wrestled to the ground 14 yards from goal and Conor Mulroe tapped over the resulting free. It ought to have been more but 56 year old John Casserly spurned a terrific goal chance after being foiled from close range. Ultan's were showing no mercy reeling off another three in a row including a fluke from Emmet Costello which was a no doubt intended as a pass but was skewed so badly, it dropped over the crossbar.
There was no questioning the endeavour of the visitors but some bad handling errors were proving costly, just ask Bull Casserly who literally took his eye of the ball with only the goalkeeper to beat from 6 yards out. For all the youngsters on display, it was the veteran Martin who was Ultan's best player on the night, pulling the strings from the half forward line.
Cortown did manage to muster up the last score of the opening period when a long agricultural effort into the forwards resulted in a fairly one side tag team clash with Shane Mulroe and Jack Murray coming up against heavyweights Bull Casserly and former Offaly man Kevin McGuiness. Needless to say the ball broke favourably for the men in yellow and Mulroe fired over to reduce the deficit to 5. This is how it stayed until referee Colm McManus called a half to proceedings with Ultans cruising 7-2 at the interval.
There was no Jaffa Cakes or oranges for Cortown at half time mainly because Ragsie Matthews wants some of the lads to shred a few pounds! What they did get was a stern telling off from about 5 managers and despite man mountain Mervyn O'Brien's leg hanging off, the hardy scrum-half soldiered on valiantly.
Cortown did get the start they were after when some nice play between Colm Kerrigan and Mulroe yielded a free and the latter comfortably slotted over. The joy was short lived however and Ultans responded with a quick-fire brace of points to stretch the lead to 6 with 20 minutes left on the clock. Tommy Fitzimons, chest out, missed a marvellous opportunity to seal the deal for the hosts however it was still difficult to foresee a way back for Cortown.
That was before the raging Bull was released from the pen after a neat 1-2 from Conor Mulroe and big Con Clarke, the Bull fielded brilliantly over Shane Mulroe before lashing over. Mulroe no doubt felt like watering his eyes with the bitterest of lemons as this seemed to spur an unlikely Cortown revival and prove the catalyst.
Casserly was causing havoc at this stage and he was cynically hauled to the ground unceremoniously and Mulroe converted with ease. Unfortunately for the Ultans keeper, it Ball by name but not by nature as he floored Bull to the floor and McManus had no choice whatsoever but to dish out a deserved black card. Mulroe who turned into Brian Stafford for one night only made it a three point game and for the first time, the Cortown bench started to believe the impossible was on.
Stafford pointed a peach of a free from distance with a booming effort and at this stage with 8 minutes to go, Ultans were folding and Cortown were dominant with tails up, smelling blood. Conor Gleeson who was having an excellent evening from half back, took off up the line like a fox after a hare leaving Kavanagh for dead and he executed an absolute worldie from the tightest of angles to cut the deficit to one.
Declan Coyne had finally rediscovered his shovels of hands and was mauling ball for fun along with Con Clarke and Ultans had simply no answer. Barry Canning had Conor Smyth in his pocket by the end of the hour and man mountain O'Brien had stopped limping and had clearly put Warren Gatland's Lion's snub behind him.
Mulroe was having the game of his life and he gave a 45 everything he had in his body including the last few drops of Vodka/redbull which were in his system to spectacularly level the sides up for the first time. It got even better for birthday boy, Stephen Fitzmaurice's men when big Decky Clarke was fouled after some beautiful interplay with the bronzed Adonis Davy Wright. The Adonis was away in Spain for the last week topping up on his imperious tan resembling an umpa lumpa, however for a man full of Sam Miguel and pizza, the former Westmeath man put in a great shift! From the free, Stafford was never going to miss and he took his tally to 8 for the evening and more importantly putting Cortown a point in front.
Credit to St Ultan's though, who got an absolute hiding for the last quarter of the game and were 7 points to no score for the final 20 minutes but responded admirably to dig out a point. The stylish Kavanagh curled over a beautiful free to tie the sides up once and for all. Overall, it will be the visitors who will be much happier with the point having showed terrific spirit and battling qualities. Cortown had massive games from Canning, Gleeson, Coyne and Mulroe.
Cortown: John McFadden, Micky Costello, Barry Canning, Tomas Brien, Conor Gleeson (0-1), Mervyn O'Brien, Declan Clarke, Declan Coyne, Conor Clarke, John Casserly, Davy Wright, Colm Kerrigan, Conor Mulroe (0-8,7fs), Kevin McGuiness, Declan Casserly (0-1).
Subs: Nicholas Butler for D Casserly.
Referee: Colm McManus (Gaeil Colmcile)
St Ultans GFC 0-10 Cortown 0-10
St Ultans Young Guns Impress.
St Ultans fielded a team with an average age of just over 23 for this third round b-league game against Cortown in Sean Newman Park on Wednesday evening. The young home side got off to the perfect start. Darren Costello, Barry Brady and Conor Martin all got on the scoresheet within the first six minutes.
Eoin Kavanagh then opened his account from a close range free. Cortown replied with their first point of the game. St Ultans struck again though. Scoring the next three points through Alan Martin and two more frees from the boot of Eoin Kavanagh.
Cortown scored their second point just before half-time. Leaving the scores 0-07 to 0-02, to the home side.
St Ultans inexperience came to the fore in the second half. Letting their lead slip and even going behind by a point with only a couple of minutes to go. However when needed, yet again, Eoin Kavanagh stepped up to kick the equalising score from a long range free.
St Ultans will be delighted that the young recruits like Luke O'Reilly, Jack Murray, Eoin McLoughlin, Greg McKeever and Eoin Kavanagh played so well. Plus with the likes of Adam Tallon and Lee Hennessy still to come in, there'll be plenty of competition for places for the next b-league game against Clan na nGael.
St Ultans: Alan Ball, Jack Murray, Greg McKeever, Shane Mulroe, Luke O'Reilly, Alan Martin (0-02), Eoin McLoughlin, Barry Brady (0-01), Robbie Daly, Conor Martin (0-01), Emmet Costello, Eoin Kavanagh (0-05, 4 fs, 1 45), Darren Costello (0-01), Conor Smyth, Shane Rennicks. Subs: Tommy Fitzsimons for Shane Rennicks (half-time). Shane Rennicks for Alan Ball (Black Card, 47 minutes).