ST MICHAEL’S 1-09 KILCAR 1-10
BY CHRIS MCNULTY AT THE BRIDGE
KILCAR shot to the top of the pile in Division 1 after inflicting a first defeat of the season on St Michael’s in a real game of two halves at wintry, windy Dunfanaghy yesterday afternoon.
Kilcar failed to score in the second half, but they’d done enough in an economical first period that ensured they could stave off a strong St Michael’s comeback when it inevitably arrived.
The problem for St Michael’s was that their stirring fightback came just a little too late, though there were moments when it seemed as if Ciaran Gallagher’s 53rd minute goal was going to be the catalyst for a turnaround.
The conditions were horrendous for the players and certainly took the tone of a game between two of the county’s more refined sides down a few notches. There were still enough flashes in the game to make it enjoyable, with Patrick McBrearty in particular providing some of the game’s more stellar moments.
There was a blistering goal in the 22nd minute or a peerless kick from the right touchline in the closing minutes of the first half from a player who seems unburdened by the headlines he’s made in recent weeks.
His team should have been on home soil yesterday, but the unseasonable weather meant an eleventh-hour reversal to The Bridge.
Kilcar were down the services of Mark McHugh, though there were considerable voids across the St Michael’s lines, with none of Antoin McFadden, Michael Gallagher, Brian McLaughlin, Daniel McLaughlin or Michael McGinley available for selection.
The absences, in particular, of those surging bursts from the half-back line of the powerful McFadden and Gallagher, following impressive displays in Monday’s Comortas Peile na Gaeltachta final win, curtailed the attacking strengths of the home side.
It was Kilcar, wind firmly in their sails, who opened the brighter.
Just seventy had passed when Michael Hegarty shot Kilcar ahead and his midfield compatriot David McShane doubled the lead with a superb long-range score in the third minute.
McBrearty won, and subsequently pointed a free off Stephen Black before Hegarty brilliantly tucked over the black spot after McBrearty had cleverly worked a sideline ball into a more central position.
A majestic 45-metre free from McBrearty, deliciously curled over to near-perfection with the breeze carrying where he intended.
It was the 13th minute before St Michael’s managed a shot in anger, but Colm McFadden duly obliged with the conversion of a free awarded after Martin McElhinney was fouled by Conor McShane.
By the interval, just two more points were posted by the hosts – James Alcorn and Andrew Kelly managing to get through gale to score – while there was a very debatable ‘score’ by McFadden ruled wide.
There could be no doubting the goal when it came, McBrearty cutting a deadly swathe down the left channel, leaving several of the St Michael’s rearguard in his slipstream before promptly smashing the ball past Ciaran Gallagher right into the back stanchion.
McFadden found himself in a similar position soon after, having played a give-and-go with Andrew Kelly, but his powerful drive was beaten behind for a ’45 by Eamon McGinley.
McBrearty is a player whose confidence is sky high right now – and a truly magnificent sideline free from the right-hand side of the 13-metre line that sailed through the posts was a kick that perfectly demonstrated, in such conditions, where the mercury on his self-belief thermometer is resting.
A pop over the shoulder put his own tally out to 1-4 and Hegarty’s third of the afternoon, another fine hit from distance, put the visitors ten clear as they parted for the solace of the dressing rooms.
80 seconds into the second half, St Michael’s ‘keeper Ciaran Gallagher got down late but decisively on time to beat away Ciaran McGinley’s snap shot. From there, though, the traffic continued to have a one-way dimension to it.
McFadden swung over the opening four points of the second half. McElhinney barged into a position where he might well have rattled the net, but in this instance he prodded just wide.
Seven minutes from the end the lifeline arrived. Christy Toye, starting for the first time this season, forced a turnover and made ground before releasing to Gallagher, who slammed high into the roof of the Kilcar net.
Toye and the substitute Lee Carr nailed points to tee up a frenetic finale with their side now just a point down. The afternoon ended on something of a sour note with the referee, Michael Mulhern, surrounded by irate St Michael’s folk, who were incensed at the timing of the final whistle, which came just as their side were beginning to ponder one last assault on the Kilcar goal through McFadden.
With a considerable list of absentees, St Michael’s won’t be overly concerned by this loss, particularly given the conditions in which they played, but Kilcar sit top of the pile and in a position of strength now with Championship looming.
St Michael’s: Ciaran Gallagher; Stephen Doak, Stephen Black, Brendan Rodden; James Alcorn (0-1), Gerard Gallagher, Liam Paul Ferry; Martin McElhinney, Peter Witherow; Christy Toye (0-1), Ciaran Gallagher (1-0), Martin Breslin; Colm McFadden (0-5, 3f), Stephen Coyle, Andrew Kelly (0-1). Subs: Oisin Langan for Coyle (45 mins), Lee Carr (0-1) for Breslin (51 mins).
Kilcar: Eamon McGinley; Pauric Carr, Conor McShane, Barry McGinley; Barry Shovlin, Ryan McHugh, Ciaran McGinley; Michael Hegarty (0-3), David McShane (0-1); Stephen Shovlin, Eoin McHugh, Pauric Sweeney; Aodhán McGinley (0-2), Patrick McBrearty (1-4, 3f), Barry Doherty. Subs: Patrick Gallagher for Sweeney (57 mins), Matthew McClean for A.McGinley (59 mins).
Referee: Michael Mulhern (St Eunan’s).