O’Reilly and O’Brien overwhelm ‘Pollard
Castletown Geoghegan 1-24 Castlepollard 1-12
Castletown Geoghegan remained on course in their bid to retain the Westmeath Examiner Cup by shaking off a lacklustre first-half display to overwhelm Castlepollard in TEG Cusack Park last Saturday evening.
The sides were level (0-12 to 1-9) at half-time, and despite an impressive start, the Black and Ambers went through a wasteful spell and conceded an 18th-minute goal, scored by Castlepollard’s Andrew Dermody.
With Allan Devine accurate from frees and David Devine tacking on some tasty scores, ‘Pollard were well and truly up for this in the first moiety, testing Castletown’s pulses with a battling display.
However, when Castletown Geoghegan netted seven minutes into the second half through Jack Gallagher, the men in blue and gold fell to pieces. The winners then scored 11 points on the trot to close out the game, with Niall O’Brien (0-10) and David O’Reilly (0-5) in fine form.
The champions were 0-5 to 0-1 up after nine minutes, when an early Allan Devine free was answered by fine scores from David O’Reilly (two) and Niall O’Brien (three, two from play). O’Reilly’s stickwork was particularly impressive, and his early mastery was an ominous sign for ‘Pollard.
However, in the next ten minutes, Castletown lost their way somewhat. Peter Clarke and O’Brien (a free) added scores, but ‘Pollard kept in touch with points from Devine (two frees) and Luke Roddy.
Alan Mangan’s troops survived a potential catastrophe on 16 minutes, when stand-in ‘keeper Eoin Glennon was called on to save a goalbound flick from one of his defenders after a superb long-range delivery from Castlepollard netminder Martin Egan.
However, amid the evening downpour, ‘Pollard made the breakthrough when on 18 minutes, David Devine cut in from the left wing and shipped to the inrushing Andrew Dermody, who shot low and powerfully to the net to level matters (1-4 to 0-7).
Frees from Johnny McCarthy (from long-range) and Allan Devine followed, as ‘Pollard moved into a two-point lead with half-time approaching. They were full value for it.
The fare wasn’t short on entertainment, and in a subsequent purple patch Castletown regained their composure and turned the tables, leading 0-12 to 1-7 after by the 30-minute mark. O’Brien helped himself to a further 0-4, while Jack Gallagher finished off a great catch and turn with a point. Allan Devine (another free) kept ‘Pollard in touch.
There was still time for more input from Noel Boyce’s charges, and as the board went up for stoppage time, David Devine found his range from the terrace side. Moments later, Allan Devine teed him up for the equaliser – a peach of a score of his right shoulder, with his back to goal.
Hopes were high among the ‘Pollard faithful, but Castletown emerged in determined fashion after the restart and simply blew their challengers away.
Allan Devine’s free cancelled out an early score from Castletown’s Conor Murphy, but in the 37th minute, the north Westmeath men were caught out badly at the back. Niall O’Brien squared to Jack Gallagher, and although not striking the sliothar altogether cleanly, squeezed a shot past Martin Egan in the ‘Pollard goal.
With 43 minutes gone, Castlepollard were still in the reckoning, and Devine’s seventh free left just two points in it (1-13 to 1-11). However, Gallagher’s goal seemed to shatter their confidence and self-belief. Sensing this, Castletown Geoghegan went for the kill, and ‘Pollard didn’t score again until deep into stoppage time, again from a Devine free.
In a 17-minute spell, the Black and Ambers fired 11 in a row without really breaking a sweat. The scores, of varying quality, came from Shane Clavin, David O’Reilly (two), Niall O’Brien (three), Conor Murphy (two), Johnny Bermingham, Jack Gallagher and sub Neal Kirby. The pick of these were from O’Reilly, Murphy and Bermingham.
Castletown came closest to adding a second goal to their tally, when Niall O’Brien rounded his marker in the 54th minute before rifling a shot off the crossbar.
For the winners, it’s on to an intriguing tie against title challengers Lough Lene Gaels. Castlepollard, although underdogs here, will surely be disappointed at the manner of their second-half capitulation.
Scorers - Castletown Geoghegan: N O’Brien 0-10 (5f), D O’Reilly 0-5, J Gallagher 1-2, C Murphy 0-3, P Clarke, S Clavin, J Bermingham and N Kirby 0-1 each. Castlepollard: A Devine 0-8f, A Dermody 1-0, D Devine 0-2, L Roddy and J McCarthy (free) 0-1 each.
Castletown Geoghegan: Eoin Glennon; Dean McDermott, Johnny Bermingham, Naoise McKenna; Ciaran O’Brien, Aonghus Clarke, Morgan Gavigan; Plunkett Maxwell, Peter Clarke; Shane Clavin, Niall O’Brien, Conor Murphy; Cormac Jackson, David O’Reilly, Jack Gallagher. Subs used: Aaron Glennon for McDermott (inj., 38), David Fennell for Jackson (40), Joe Clarke for Murphy (53), Neal Kirby for C O’Brien (55), David Maloney for Gavigan (60).
Castlepollard: Martin Egan; Seán Lancaster, Darragh O’Reilly, Oisín Gaffney; Eoin English, Charlie McCormack, Paul Dermody; Derek Murray, Conor Gaffney; David Devine, Ciarán Fagan, Luke Roddy; Allan Devine, John McCarthy, Andrew Dermody. Subs used: Glen Flynn for Roddy (38), Conor Sheridan for Murray (57), Brian Gilchrist for Fagan (58), Matthew O’Reilly for McCarthy (60), Alex McCormack for O Gaffney (60).
Ref: Mick Murtagh (Clonkill).