Intermediate Championship: Clonmore 0-15 St Andrews 1-11

November 8, 2018

It is always vital to get off to a winning start to the Championship, but this year is even more important as there are only three games in the Group and there is no margin for error.

Every team goes into the First Round with high hopes and comes out with all guns blazing, This was certainly the case with St Andrews tonight as they left their poor League form behind them to push Clonmore all the way.

In a tense battle, the Clonmore lads made light of the atrocious weather conditions to produce an assured and spirited performance, fighting back on a couple of occasions when it looked like the game was slipping away.

The outstanding Shane McGrath opened the scoring wth a point in the first minute to settle the nerves. However, St Andrews kicked three points in a row to put them 0-3 to 0-1 ahead on 15 minutes. David Mulvany had a very influential game at midfield and kicked two excellent long range points in the first half. A well struck free by Con Murphy levelled matters at 0-3 apiece before half backs Jordan Kane and Gavin Byrne raced forward to land a couple of lovely scores. Crock, Shock and little P added points to leave us 0-8 to 0-6 ahead at half-time.

Paddy Byrne pulled of a great save in a one-to-one with the Saint's dangerous full-forward, John Doyle, at a vital stage in the first half, when a goal for them would have given them great encouragement.

Clonmore again opened brightly in the second half with Niall Humphries and Shane McGrath slotting over points but we could never pull away from the Bagenalstown men and Andrew Beaton and John Doyle (2) knocked over points to leave just one between the teams on 40 minutes: 0-10 to 0-9. Then came a blow to Clonmore's hopes when the ever threatening Craig Doyle raced through the middle of our defence to score a well taken goal to make it 1-9 to 0-10.

But this young Clonmore team refused to buckle and came charging back to score the next five points without reply – from Collie McGrath, Shock (free), Adam Byrne (two excellent points off the outside of his boot) and what proved to be the winner from Niall Humphries on the 56th minute to make it 0-15 to 1-9.

The last few minutes was "heart in mouth" time as St Andrews closed the gap to a point and had two chances to equalise from frees. The first from John Miley took a dangerous low trajectory and would have found the net but for Paddy Byrne's finger tips pushing it against the crossbar. The second free was the last kick of the game but instead of being taken by the right footed Miley (who had just been black carded), it was taken by the left footed Andrew Beaton who found the angle too difficult to the relief of the Clonmore supporters.

This was a very good team performance. The backs battling tenaciously throughout, especially John Kelly who had his hands full with John Doyle, and the half-backs who were up against a strong St Andrews line. At midfield David Mulvany was outstanding and in the forwards they all showed for every ball and combined well to score 15 points, an impressive tally in such bad conditions.

The next game is on Friday evening next against O'Hanrahans in Bagenalstown at 7.30pm.

TEAM: Paddy Byrne, Mick Smith, John Kelly, Andrew Byrne, Paddy Gahan, Gavin Byrne (0-1), Jordan Kane (0-1), David Mulvany (0-2), Willie Byrne, Niall Humphries (0-2),Colin McGrath (0-1), Adam Byrne (0-2), Con Murphy (0-1,f),  Shane McGrath (0-4,2f), PJ Byrne (0-1), Subs: Dale McNamara for PJ (40mins), Anthony Byrne for Paddy Gahan (42mins).

PHOTO: Shane McGrath was a constant threat up front for the Intermediates against St Andrews, scoring four points.