A tight contest between two close rivals eventually went Loughrea’s way in a result that could have serious repercussions later in the season.
These two clubs survived Senior A relegation ties in 2017 and a victory was vital for a much-needed boost. Loughrea can now look to their next outing against Cappataggle with confidence, b ut it’s a tough road for Mullagh with Sarsfields next up in two weeks.
That being said, Dessie O’Brien’s team gave a good account of themselves despite numerous losses to his panel with Derek Hardiman retired and Cathal Dervan and Cathal Hardiman recuperating from long-term injuries. And it was only in the final quarter that Loughrea took a stranglehold on proceedings.
The teams were level for the ninth time before a Jamie Ryan brace created a two-point margin on 44 minutes. And despite Davy and Ronan Glennon adding three scores to Mullagh’s account, white flags for Sean Sweeney, Ryan, Joe Mooney and Gearoid Loughnane gave Mike Ryan’s team the spoils.
Their last two championship meetings saw only one point separate the teams and this latest installment carried the same hallmarks. Davy Glennon opened the scoring for Mullagh on two minutes before Brian Keary equalised. It was a trend that would carry throughout the opening 30 minutes.
Padraig Kennedy was Mullagh’s free taker and he made it 0-2 to 0-1 before Ryan opened his account. Before the returning Paul Hoban set up Joe Mooney for Loughrea’s third, Finian Coone had restored parity on 17 minutes.
Loughrea will be disappointed with 2017 having expected to compete for silverware and they needed to beat a disorientated Turloughmore to preserve their top 12 status. Hoban’s return from Warwickshire will be a massive boost, especially following Damien McClearn’s retirement.
Full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune.