Claregalway off to a flier with impressive first round victory

Annaghdown's Joe Kerin breaking out of defence against Barry Goldrick of Claregalway during Saturday's senior football championship tie at Kenny Park. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.
Annaghdown's Joe Kerin breaking out of defence against Barry Goldrick of Claregalway during Saturday's senior football championship tie at Kenny Park. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

CLAREGALWAY 3-11

ANNAGHDOWN 0-12

AN impressively cohesive display by Claregalway took full advantage of near neighbours Annaghdown’s key absentees on Saturday evening as goals by Danny Cummins, Dara Whelan, and Mark Rohan set them up for an important opening round victory in Group B.

The sight of Damien Comer partaking in elements of the Annaghdown pre-match warm-up bodes well for the forward’s potential involvement in a Connacht final next month, but his club could badly have done with him last weekend along with Ciaran Duggan and Frankie Burke. The trio would have transformed Annaghdown’s attacking gameplan and posed Claregalway far more problems than experienced in this encounter.

Once Claregalway had struck for two goals against the wind in the space of as many minutes in the first half and turned the game on its head, Alan Moran’s side were able to soak up the limited threat posed by the Annaghdown attacking unit and pick them off on the counter-attack. Led by eye-catching displays by Conor Campbell, Jack Glynn, Conor Costello and Cummins, they were clever in possession and exposed Annaghdown time and again in the second period.

Rohan’s 46th minute goal was the killer score that stretched their lead to nine, as Cummins broke forward into acres of open ground and fed the young forward to his right. James Healy in the Annaghdown goal saved well not once but twice from first Rohan and then Cummins, but Rohan coolly slotted away the second rebound to put the two points on offer firmly in Claregalway’s possession.

From the outset, Eoghan Kerin was assigned a marking job on his county team-mate Cummins in the last line of the Annaghdown defence, while Matthias Coleman was their most advanced forward. Enda Mullarkey kicked a fine score for last year’s semi-finalists in the opening minute, taking full advantage of the wind at his back, before Barry Goldrick replied with a close-range score for Claregalway.

It was a low-scoring, cagey opening before Eoghan Kerin made it 0-3 to 0-2 with a good point, and while Mullarkey and Niall Kinneen’s second free stretched Annaghdown’s lead further, they had also accrued as many wides as scores by the 20th minute. Claregalway were creating pockets of space around their half-forward line for their runners to burst into, with Campbell and Glynn particularly impressive and Glynn cut through to reduce Claregalway’s arrears.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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