A strong opening-half in to the stiff breeze in Kenny Park helped Killimordaly to a three-point victory over Athenry on Sunday as Liam Donoghue’s side booked their passage through to the preliminary quarter-finals for the second straight season.
This was a contest which never caught fire in truth and it is a game which will leave Athenry bitterly disappointed, having registered 13 wides over the hour, many of which were simple shots which on another day, would have been slotted at ease.
Killimordaly for their part racked up 11 wides, but six of those came in the final 10 minutes of the game, when they led comfortably, as Athenry failed time and again to trouble the scoreboard.
Having seen the effect the wind had on proceedings in the day’s opening game between Clarinbridge and Padraig Pearses, Athenry would have been eager to get on the board and build up a strong interval lead with the backing of the breeze, but despite a bright opening spell, Athenry failed to do that, which in the end, contributed largely to their downfall.
Huge credit must go to Killimordaly, however, for limiting Athenry to a mere 0-7 in that opening half and in particular the forward division who were dogged in the first line of defence, hustling and harrying Athenry every time they looked to clear their lines and oftentimes forcing turnovers which saw them create and take vital scores.
Despite only winning by three in the end, Killimordaly’s victory seemed all but assured once they got their noses in front by a few points in the second half such was the struggle for scores for Athenry playing against a such a strong breeze.
Conditions forced sides to adapt their approach and carry the ball more often than not when playing in to it although Brian Burke made a mockery of the wind at times in that opening half with some brilliant scores from play and frees from distance.
Paddy Hannon gave them the ideal start with a point from play inside 25 seconds before wing-back Noel Keogh burst on to a loose Brian Concannon pass at pace to fire over his side’s second.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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