The Mayo champions, despite playing with a gale force wind in the opening half of yesterday’s semi-final clash, were struggling to break down a well marshalled Clyda Rovers rearguard. John Walsh’s charges, 13 of whom operated inside their own half in the first period, were more than content to retain possession with no forward drive, at one point stringing six handpasses across their own 21 yard line. Effective, if not easy on the eye.
The Kiltane supporter, however, had had enough and let rip. Ten minutes later the Clyda defence lay in debris, 2-4 pilfered by the Kiltane forwards during the collapse.
Leading 0-3 to 0-2 by the end of the first quarter, Kiltane were dominant, John Reilly and Jason Healy driving forward from midfield. Clyda’s defensive ploy, however, was working, forcing their opponents to shoot from difficult angles and crowding the central channel with black and amber jerseys. Kiltane had registered four wides by this juncture, dropping as many efforts short — players and supporters alike growing in frustration.
On 22 minutes, the first creak in the system arrived. Clyda’s full-back line, instead of kicking the ball to safety, opted to keep possession, dangerously so, inside the large rectangle. Niall O’Mullane, proved the guilty party, fisting a stray pass straight into the clutches of Kiltane’s Ultan Corrigan. Thank you very much, said the wing-forward, who drove low into the left corner of Cian Conway’s goal.
James Murphy and Darragh Carey traded frees in the ensuing passages of play and on 27 minutes, the Clyda empire suffered a second fatal blow. Corner-forward Shane Lindsay, gathering Darragh Carey’s delivery ahead of Ray Carey, put the head down and made for home, unleashing a superb effort that flew across Conway to nestle again in the left corner of the net.
Clyda had hardly surveyed the damage when Tony Gaughan and Edmund Barrett raised white flags, the interval scoreline: 2-7 to 0-3.
Kiltane captain Patrick Joe Gaughan laughs that had he won the toss, the electronic board at the railway end could have read quite differently at the break.
“I lost the toss and I was kind of delighted,” he smiled. “Going up for it I was in total quandary as to what to do. I didn’t know what way they would set up. My theory would be to play with the wind and get a lead, but with a defensive team like Clyda, it is hard to know what to do because they can snuff you out. And they did that to us for the first 15 minutes. They defended really well and were holding the ball very well. We got the goals then and drove on.”
It was the turn of Gaughan and co to adopt the siege mentality at the change of ends and effectively they did. Edmund Barrett, in a rare second-half attacking foray, stretched Kiltane’s advantage, but Clyda quickly responded, substitute Séamus Roynane, Paudie Kissane and Conor Flanagan (free) closing the gap with three unanswered points.
Corrigan kicked the winners’ final score 12 minutes out and from there to the end it was a tale of sustained Clyda pressure, though they never looked like bridging the deficit.
A miserable afternoon for the Mourneabbey side was summed up by Paudie Kissane’s late penalty which flew over the bar.
Flanagan (free) and substitute Séan O’Connell raised further white flags in injury time, the game as a contest though had long since been decided. And so Mayo’s Croke Park curse will receive an early examination this 2014. Gaughan doesn’t need reminding.
Scorers for Kiltane: U Corrigan (1-2, 0-2 frees); S Lindsay (1-1); E Barrett (0-2, 0-1 free); D Carey (0-1 ‘45), J Reilly (0-1 free), J Healy, T Gaughan (0-1 each).
Scorers for Clyda Rovers: P Kissane (0-2, 0-1 pen); C Flanagan (0-2, 0-2 frees); J Murphy (0-1 free), C O’Sullivan, P O’Mullane, S Roynane, S O’Connell (0-1 each).
KILTANE: MJ Reilly; S Sweeney, D Carey, R Corrigan; PJ Gaughan, T Gaughan, M Gallagher; J Reilly, J Healy; U Corrigan, S Gaughan, M Sweeney; S Lindsay, E Barrett, T Conroy.
Subs: S Carey for Gallagher (51 mins), K Ginty for Sweeney (60 mins), B McAndrew for Lindsay (60 mins), P Deane for Conroy (60 mins), O Munnelly for Carey (60 mins).
CLYDA ROVERS: C Conway; N O’Mullane, R Carey, C Kenny; C Buckley, F O’Shea, O’Hanlon; D O’Callaghan, C Flanagan; Cian O’Sullivan, P Kissane, G Carey; J Murphy, P O’Mullane, Conor O’Sullivan.
Subs: S Roynane for Buckley (27 mins), M O’Brien for O’Hanlon (HT), S O’Connell for O’Mullane (51 mins), J O’Hanlon for O’Callaghan (56 mins).
Referee: D Brazil (Offaly).