Cooney goal crucial as favourites win through
Coralstown/Kinnegad 1-8, Caulry 0-6
By Gerry Buckley
The senior footballers from Coralstown/Kinnegad are back in the Flanagan Cup final after a 25-year wait following last Sunday’s hard-earned semi-final win against Caulry in very difficult conditions for football at TEG Cusack Park.
In truth, the South Westmeath outfit, appearing in the penultimate round for the first time since 1946, never raised a gallop in the first half with just two converted frees to show for their efforts. However, inspired by a brace of great points from Westmeath panellist Conor McCormack, they threatened to cause a shock as the game progressed.
Overall, however, Coralstown/Kinnegad were totally deserving winners, albeit their reward is a somewhat dubious one with an October 1 clash against unbackable favourites St Loman’s on the horizon, the Mullingar blues set to appear in the Lake County football showpiece for the tenth time in 11 years when they take on the side managed by Jack Cooney and Pascal Kellaghan.
The winners, wearing white and red jerseys due to a colour clash, were two points to the good with less than five minutes elapsed, courtesy of a great score from play by Darren Giles and a terrific 45-metre free by Brían Cooney. Exchanges were for the most part cagey at this juncture with the underdogs registering their first score from a free in the 11th minute by their marquee forward Senan Baker (who went on to be largely anonymous in open play). Giles responded with a fine free of his own to leave Coralstown/Kinnegad ahead by 0-3 to 0-1 at the end of the opening quarter.
Cooney was already to the fore in defensive duties. Jason Macken increased the winners’ lead with a great team point in the 16th minute. Westmeath captain Kevin Maguire pulled off a great catch from a Cooney free before Baker doubled his tally from placed balls in the 21st minute. Two minutes later, the hard-working Eoin O’Brien teed up Cooney who found the net with aplomb to put his side five points clear. The full forward again showed his versatility by popping up to great effect near his own goalmouth, and he then turned provider for Wayne Fox who scored a great point with the outside of his boot to leave Coralstown/Kinnegad ahead by 1-5 to 0-2 at the break.
There was no work for the scoreboard operator in the first six minutes of the second half. The men in largely black jerseys were given a great boost when McCormack kicked a wonderful brace of points from near the terrace sideline in the 37th and 40th minutes respectively, sandwiched between which Cooney kicked an equally outstanding point for the finalists-in-waiting.
The same player then untypically missed two chances, albeit difficult opportunities, before a great catch by Stephen Connolly led to a free which was converted by McCormack. Dan Leech was soon wide after an eye-catching run goalward. A quick free by McCormack teed up former Westmeath player Damien Dolan for a neat point, leaving the deficit at just a goal (1-6 to 0-6) with 48 minutes on the clock.
However, that was as good as it got for Shane Curran’s troops. Shane Fleming pointed when a goal beckoned after taking a pass from sub Jack Torpey. The latter player also teed up fellow-sub Callum Cruise for a goal chance, but Jack Connaughton pulled off a great save in the 56th minute. Crucially, Baker was wide from a 40-metre free before the fourth official signalled a minimum of three minutes added-time. In the first of these, David Giles picked out Liam Daly who sealed a final spot for Coralstown/Kinnegad with a delightful point. Two late Caulry attacks yielded no reward.
Scorers – Coralstown/Kinnegad: B Cooney 1-2 (0-1f), Darren Giles 0-2 (1f), L Daly, J Macken, W Fox, S Fleming 0-1 each.
Caulry: C McCormack 0-3 (1f), S Baker 0-2 (2f), D Dolan 0-1.
Coralstown/Kinnegad: Stephen McNevin; Ciaran Daly Snr, Daniel Woods, Ronan Doyle; Liam Daly, Jason Macken, Josh Gahan; David Giles, Darren Giles; Eoin O’Brien, Shane Fleming, James Maxwell; Dan Leech, Brían Cooney, Wayne Fox. Subs used: Jack Torpey for Leech (47), Eoghan Bracken for Fox (48), Callum Cruise for Fleming (55), Podge Quinn for Darren Giles (60+2).
Caulry: Jack Connaughton; Ben Moran, Kevin Maguire, Sean Fox; Tadhg Baker, Eoghan Grennan, Damien Dolan; Stephen Connolly, Sean Clinton; Tiarnán O’Donovan, Conor McCormack, Paddy Sleator; Emmet Nally, Senan Baker, Alan Malynn. Subs used: Eoin Fox for Clinton (h-t), Luke Buckley for Malynn (h-t), Oisín Shortall for Nally (53), Sean Murphy for Dolan (58), Aaron Rourke for O’Donovan (60).
Ref: Barry Pierce (St Mary’s, Rochfortbridge).
Examiner's Eye on game
Man of the match
Brían Cooney (Coralstown/Kinnegad). His goal was superbly taken and his two points were also crucial, while he worked tirelessly in unselfish defensive duties for good measure.
Cooney’s 23rd-minute goal gave Coralstown/Kinnegad a little breathing space during the remainder of a low-scoring game.
Can Coralstown/Kinnegad put it up to unbackable favourites St Loman’s in the final? It will take a degree of improvement to defeat Paddy Dowdall’s impressive troops.