Naomh Aban 1-12 Grenagh 1-8: At half-time of this Premier Intermediate Football Championship clash at Coachford on Saturday night there would have been no gambling on the outcome of this tie.
Such was the dominance of Naomh Abán, few would have given Grenagh even a chance of even mounting a challenge after their shell shocked opening 30 minutes.
Naomh Abán had played the opening 30 minutes with such skill and conviction and with such ability to pick off the scores that it appeared to be only a matter of how much they would win by.
A stunned Grenagh could only watch in awe as the Ballyvourney side totted up the scores to establish an impressive 1-9 to 0-5 lead at the break.
Somehow, Grenagh pulled themselves together at the break and it wasn’t all down to table banging s from the coaches. Whatever was said inside that dressing room was delivered in a quiet and measured fashion.
Perhaps Naomh Aban approached that second half without the same intensity, or perhaps Grenagh upped theirs. Whatever, it wasn’t a runaway game any more and the winners had to fight every inch of the way to secure the win that, overall, their efforts deserved.
Yet, with two minutes to go there was just a goal between the sides and it fell to Naomh Abán substitute Seamus Ó Laoire to get the crucial late point to put more than one score between the teams.
Naomh Abán scored first in the second half but then went 22 minutes waiting for their next – down to a combination of their own mistakes and Grenagh’s gritty determination. Mind you, Grenagh found scores hard to come by as well following a fine spell in the opening nine minutes of the half that produced points from Diarmuid Dorgan and Gerry Russell as well as a vital goal from Ultan Duggan.
The second half was such a contrast to the first. Yes, Grenagh grabbed the opening scores with points from Tadgh Walsh and Conor Fitzgerald, another couple of frees from Dorgan midway through the half, but otherwise it was a masterclasss from the Gaeltacht men.
Everything they did seemed to turn to scores. In complete control through the defence and into the half forward and full forward lines, Naomh Aban went forward menacingly and their accuracy in front of goal was perfect, with not a single wide throughout the period.
They responded to Genagh’s early flurry with three unanswered points before Micheal Ó Croinín smashed home a 13th minute goal.
As Grenagh struggled to stay in the game, Naomh Abán picked off another five points and, indeed, they might well have stretched the half time lead to 10 but for having a 27th minute goal disallowed.
All that suggested a very easy second half ride but Grenagh, of course, had other ideas. In the end they paid for that lack-lustre first half display and simply let themselves with too much to do.
Scorers for Naomh Aban:
M Ó Croinin 1-3, C Ó Murchu, M Ó Liathain, N Ó Ceallaigh 0-2 each, M Ó Laoire, S Ó Laoire, M Ó Duinnin (f) 0-1 each
Scorers for Grenagh:
U Duggan 1-0, D Dorgan 0-4 (0-3 frees), G Russell 0-2, T Walsh, C Fitzgerald 0-1 each.
S Ó hUidhir, S Ó Mathuna, C de hide, L Ó Luasa, D Ó Scannaill, S Ó Riada, M Ó Liathain, M Ó Laoire, T Ó Scannaill, D Ó Croinin, M Ó Croinin, N Ó Ceallaigh, D Ó Ceallaigh, M Ó Duinnin, C Ó Murchu.
S Ó Laoire for Murphy (46), R de hide for Ó Scannaill (57)
M Barry, M Lehane, A Duggan, K O’Neill, T Buckley, N Doherty, S Dorgan, T Kenny, G Russell, C O’Sullivan, C Fitzgerald, T Walsh, L Walsh, U Duggan, D Dorgan.
P McSweeney for L Walsh (28, injured), R Dorgan for A Duggan (35), L O’Donovan for Buckley (57)
. B Murphy (Carrigtwohill)
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved