Intermediate back in contention after poor start

Post date: Jun 9, 2015 6:33:20 PM

After being on the wrong end of a Kinvara backlash in their first outing, many Mágh Cuilinn supporters, clearly pessimistic about the team's prospects, missed an excellent performance in their comfortable win over Killimor, who must have fancied their chances after their opening win over Ahascragh-Fohenagh and a narrow defeat to unbeaten Abbeyknockmoy. The Kinvara game featured a team shorn of eight players who started last year's semi-final against Cappataggle, Tomas Higgins has retired and is absent from the hurling championship for the first time since 1999 , Conor Bohan and Eanna Malone are both abroad and Eanna Noone, Chris Hurney, Conor Noone, Kevin Donovan were out through illness and injury, while Philip Lydon was not passed fit to start. With Henry Lydon and Barry Faherty also putting their hurleys away, and John Faherty's injury long term, Mágh Cuilinn's prospects were in hands of a graduating younger group and the return of some experienced players from injury. Gary Bohan and Dan Kelly have both returned after cruciate injuries, while Pat Lydon and Niall Mannion have also fully rehabilitated. After three years commuting from Manchester for games and 2014 playing in Lancashire, Vinnie Faherty has made a welcome move home again.

The Killimor game also began with the further loss Mark Lydon, who was troubled by injury throughout the Kinvara game and had not recovered and Ronan Higgins, who was away. So a core of regulars, Eric Fox, Matt Donohue, Sean Rossa, Seosamh O'Faharta, Seamus Conneely, Phillip Lydon and Robert Molloy were joined by the returning group mentioned above and Championship debutantes, Lairgnean McDermott, Anraoi Whyte and 27 year old, David Kearns, proving the game is not just about under 21's and Minors. Lairgnean having won his share of frees in the Kinvara game, really set the show on the road when his debut score in Championship was a shot to the onion bag. With Mágh Cuilinn comfortably ahead, the team received a boost when Chris "out for the season" Hurney made a surprise entry as a substitute. Caleb McGuinness made his second appearance as a substitute in the second half and it was marked by one timely skillful intervention to snuff out a Killimor goal chance. With a further "Lourdes" like cameo appearance, Eanna Noone came on as a late substitute and bagged two points.

On the night before Galway bagged 5-19 in the Leinster Quarter Final, much the same Mágh Cuilinn team were matching that total with a 6-16 total against a Craughwell Intermediate team squeezed by the demands of a Senior team and a Junior team who are faring much better in their respective competitions. The second half was illuminated by a Clooniffe triple: first Seamus Conneely picked a superb pass to a Jake Dillon like blindside run down the left flank of the Craughwell defence by ....Matt Donohue, who finished his debut goal in Championship like a top class forward. Lairgnean McDermott made a great break before passing to Gary Bohan, who simply swiveled and crashed the pass first time into the top of the Craughwell net. A welcome sight to all as the period since his previous Championship goal in the 2008 quarter final against Kilbeacanty has been one titanic battle with injuries. Finally, the first Mannion hat-trick of the weekend, came when taking a free well outside the 20m line, Niall spotted Craughwell's failure to line the goal to any degree and simply planted the ball in the bottom corner. Niall had earlier converted his second one-on-one penalty of the Championship. After this weekend, he can also say that of the four players who have taken on Colm Callanan in a one-on-one penalty in competitive action, he is the only one to come out on top. The other three? Shane Dooley, David Treacy and Paul Ryan.

This Friday night in Athenry, Mágh Cuilinn try to consolidate their position in the top 4 with a win over Clarinbridge with the Championship not resuming until 12th July, and that provided Galway reach the Leinster final. Clarinbridge have beaten Craughwell easily, ran Ahascragh-Fohenagh to two points before going down heavily to in-form Abbeyknockmoy last weekend. A win will not secure a quarter final place but it will mean Killimor or Clarinbridge needing to win their remaining games, hoping three teams finished on six points and they had somehow overcome the gap in points difference.

Mágh Cuilinn's remaining games are two tough prospects against Ahascragh-Fohenagh and Abbeyknockmoy.

Ahascragh-Fohenagh have further tough assignments against Abbey' and Kinvara as well as the postponed Craughwell game. Killimor play Clarinbridge and Craughwell while Kinvara's other two games are also against the senior clubs' second teams.