Old Leighlin 0-11
TWO fine frees from Sean Bambrick in the closing stages proved enough for Old Leighlin to squeeze past Tinryland in the first senior football championship game of the year at Netwatch Cullen Park on Thursday evening.
Recent league form was gone out the door and from the throw-in the game was played with real championship fervour with each side knowing they needed to get the group stage going with a win.
Aaron Amond got Old Leighlin moving with a point in the second minute before Diarmuid Walshe replied for Tinryland two minutes later. Twelve minutes on Tinryland had three points on the board and Old Leighlin had four.
However Old Leighlin got a grip on the game for the second quarter with points from Michael Meaney, Cathal Coughlan and Seanie Kinsella giving them a 0-8 to 0-4 lead three minutes before the break.
Then Tinryland lit the dynamite. Cian Lawlor, who was instrumental with number five on his back, kicked over Tinryland’s fifth point from play. Another raid saw Diarmuid Walshe thundering in on the Old Leighlin goal where he was grounded in the large parallelogram. Danny Moran took the responsibility and cool as a cucumber he shot the ball to the left of goalkeeper James Clarke and suddenly the game was level – Tinryland 1-5 Old Leighlin 0-8 – when referee John Hickey called half time. Moran’s penalty created a buzz at the break as it was all to play for in the second half.
On the restart, marking and defensive roles were tight with each team. Efforts from both sets of forwards were turned over by resolute defending with scores at a premium.
Six minutes in to the second period Michael Meaney edged Old Leighlin in front 0-9 to 1-5 from play, and it was a further 15 minutes before the next score came as Tinryland’s Niall Lowry tied the game: 1-6 to 0-9.
Throughout the hour both sets of players were teak tough in the tackle and a draw looked a possibility coming into the dying minutes.
However, Old Leighlin won a 45 and Seanie Bambrick sent the ball straight as a dye over the bar to give his side a slender one-point lead.
A minute later Old Leighlin won another free from almost an identical position and again Bambrick proved deadly accurate.
In time added on Tinryland raided with all their might and two efforts for points hung in the air before dropping short as Old Leighlin managed to get the ball out of danger. Diarmuid Walshe narrowed the gap to the minimum but time ran out.
There was very little between these two teams with Old Leighlin holding an edge by virtue of their ability to take a score from distance. With Éire Óg and Ballinabranna also in this group there will likely be little room to manoeuvre at the end of the round-robin section.
Old Leighlin: James Clarke; Padraic Coughlan, Niall Roche, Ger Hickey; Seanie Bambrick (0-2), Ian Atkinson, Tadgh Roche; David Bambrick, Mickey Bambrick (0-1); Hughie Gahan, Seamus Kinsella (0-1), Aaron Amond (0-4); Cathal Coughlan (0-2), Michael Meaney (0-1), (BB), Michael Meaney (MM). Subs: Declan Kelly for M Meaney (MM), Stephen Scallan for P Coughlan
Tinryland: Ciaran Byrne; Conor Ryan, Shane Redmond, Adam Dunne; Cian Lawlor (0-1), Cathal Gaffney, John Paul Moore; Conor Byrne, Danny Moran (1-0, pen); Niall Lowry (0-3), Padraig Townsend (0-1), Conor O’Toole; Diarmuid Walshe (0-2), Keelan Gaffney, Cormac Walshe. Subs: Paul Broderick for K Gaffney, Peter Hennessy for N Lowry, Glen Doyle for C Byrne
Referee: John Hickey (Fenagh)