Milltown-Castlemaine reign

Kerry’s affinity with the All-Ireland Club IFC – not to mention Croke Park – continued yesterday with Milltown-Castlemaine claiming the county’s third title in the tournament’s eight-year history.

For Mayo, it was a familiar story of an altogether more depressing sort. Yet another defeat for one of it’s sides in HQ and, not just that, but another day in which the men from the west failed utterly to give a true account of themselves.

It was a wholly unexpected turn of events given the fact Davitts had entered the weekend as slight favourites after an impressive semi-final performance when they restricted Éire Óg of Greystones to just six points while Milltown-Castlemaine had struggled past Derry’s Craigbane.

In one sense, it was a final that brought great symmetry to the eventual champions’ campaign given they had struggled past opponents in quarter and semi-finals only to win both the provincial and national deciders at something of a canter.

The Munster champions led from the second minute when wing-back Paul O’Carroll pointed and they now follow Ardfert (2007) and St Michael’s Foilmore (2009) into the history books.

This was, in fact, the most one-sided decider ever at this grade and the painful truth for Davitts is they were clearly in some trouble from the initial exchanges against a side that boasted a roll call of quality performances.

Corner-forward Cathal Moriarty earned the official vote of man of the match for a display that allied intelligence with instinct but there were contenders wearing green sprinkled throughout every line on the pitch.

Others of note were Gavin Wrenn who chipped in with a hat-trick of points, Jerome Flynn who worked relentlessly all day and the wing-backs Jono O’Connor and Paul O’Carroll who raided deep and retreated deeper when the occasions demanded.

As with the Oscars, the only problem with naming a few is the inevitable omission of endless others who deserve their mention every bit as much but the fact is there wasn’t an area or a period where the Kerry side struggled.

Davitts, in contrast, proved too reliant on midfielder Ronan McNamara and corner-forward Michael Conroy, neither of whom could do enough with limited possession to turn the tide.

Conroy was the true ace in their pack. Or should have been.

Recently recalled to James Horan’s Mayo squad, he had kicked 1-22 in his previous three games but was isolated far too much by his team-mates who depended on long, hopeful punts forward in his general direction.

Too often he had to roam towards the sidelines to collect and even when he did he found himself superbly shepherded by Kevin McKenna who will have slept soundly last night having kept his man scoreless from play.

The one time Davitts’ long-ball game paid off it did so in spades with Conroy tipping down another Hail Mary in the direction of the overlapping Fergal McGrath whose low shot slipped under Mark Diskin and into the net.

Half-time was just four minutes away when McGrath struck and it halved what had been a six-point Milltown-Castlemaine lead built on an abundance of possession and the game’s first goal after 11 minutes.

Moriarty was the supplier, sending in a ball towards the Davitts square that was obviously launched with the intention of splitting the posts but instead dropped into the path of Colm Kearins who punched home.

One or two defenders protested it was a case of square ball but they were muted in tone and the same players were probably still thanking their goalkeeper for saving from Kearins in a one-on-one situation minutes before.

By half-time the gap was at four and an effort from Keith Prendergast reduced that to a goal soon after the change of ends but any hopes of seeing an edge-of-the-seat contest faded with every minute that passed thereafter without another Davitts score.

In total, 27 second-half minutes slipped by before they bothered the scoreboard again with a pair of frees from Conroy. Problem was that Milltown-Castlemaine had added five of their own to the debate in the meantime.

It was that straightforward.

Scorers for Davitts: M Conroy 0-3fs, F McGrath 1-0, A McTigue, R McNamara, K Prendergast 0-1 each.

Scorers for Milltown-Castlemaine: I Twiss 0-4fs, C Kearins 1-0, G Wrenn 0-3, D Kelliher 0-2, P O’Carroll, J Flynn, C Moriarty, D Twiss 0-1 each.

DAVITTS: M Diskin; C Roche, A Roche, K Gallagher; J Clarke, C Boyle, J Cummins; R McNamara, P Carey; K Prendergast, D McDonagh, O Coyne; A McTigue, F McGrath, M Conroy.

Subs: F Barrett for Clarke (39), K Glynn for McDonagh (39), C O’Gara for Kearns (51), J Ronayne for Carey (57).

MILLTOWN-CASTLEMAINE: J Daly; K McKenna, D Murphy, J Blennerhasset; J O’Connor, M Mangan, P O’Carroll; M Burke, D Kelliher; J Flynn, S Murphy, G Wrenn; C Moriarty, C Kearins, I Twiss.

Subs: D Twiss for Flynn (51), P Wrenn for O’Carroll (62), K McKenna for I Twiss (64).

Referee: D Brazil (Offaly).

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