By Cathal Ryan
Senior Football Championship
JK Bracken’s 0-9
A timely late surge secured victory for Loughmore Castleiney over JK Brackens in Friday night’s Senior Football Championship encounter held in Templetouhy. In damp and dreary conditions the game had almost descended into darkness before three late points lit the path to victory for 11 time county champions.
Struggling to convert their chances was the theme in this game for Loughmore but they managed to execute with devastating consequences late in both halves. In the 29th minute of the contest they manufactured a beautiful attack as Cian Hennessey collected possession 35 yards out from goal and turning he hand passed to Liam McGrath. The classy young full forward held possession for a split second before returning the pass to Hennessey who had continued his run at full throttle stealing a march on any potential challenge leaving him with only the keeper to beat. He dropped the ball to his right foot and nonchalantly stroked it past the keeper raising a green flag and a warning sign for their opponents.
JK Brackens rallied with vigour in the final ten minutes after seemingly weathering the storm from their opposition they drew level through Shane Scully. The dynamic wing forward always looked like the best outlook in attack for the Templemore men and he converted superbly off his left foot in the 51st minute and guided over a free off his right four minutes later to level the contest.
With a minute remaining a draw appeared to be a likely outcome, but Loughmore went to the well once more and found a new gear in attack. John McGrath gathered possession 21 yards out and just to the left of the target. He made an early decision to drive past his opponent and after a brief struggle he broke through and fired over off his right. In the very next attack Liam McGrath found a yard of space and floated a shot high and accurately. The onslaught continued when Shane Hennessey converted a free to secure victory.
Other than one effort in the first half that clattered the post Brackens never penetrated the Loughmore defensive line and picked off their scores from frees and difficult shots from outside a defender. Their efforts were noble and possibly thought they could have won it when they drew level with only minutes remaining but ultimately they were flummoxed by the final flurry of points.
In retrospect Loughmore would have been kicking themselves if they had let this one slip away. They kicked sixteen wides to their opponents two in the match and dominated for 20 minutes after half time holding the Templemore men not only scoreless but without shot.
The first half was an even contest with Evan Sweeney opening the scoring in the second minute of play sailing a well measured shot over the bar from 30 yards out off his right boot. An Alan O Riordan free levelled matters soon after from an acute angle. Both sides traded further points in the following minutes, Liam McGrath manufactured just enough of space in front of goal to kick left footed over his shoulder to score while in response Cathal Scully launched a massive right footed shot from 45 yards to leave the scores tied with a quarter of the dual elapsed.
JK Brackens enjoyed their best period of dominance from this point to the Hennessey goal outscoring Loughmore three points to one and with a substantial percentage of possession in their favour. Shane Scully landed a free, Lorcan Egan linked up with Dean McEnroe before kicking over on the run off his left and Alan O Riordan added his second of the game.
Loughmore then fired the sucker punch in the shape of the goal and left the scores tied at the interval 0-6 to 1-3.
Whatever was said in the changing room worked as the men in green and red began the second half with a new sense of purpose. They piled forward with relentless waves of attack but couldn’t manage to convert due to some courageous defence but also due to very poor finishing. Eventually they registered as Ciaran McGrath joined the attack from centre back. Another defender Tom King then registered the point of the match with an amazing long range effort that hung up in the air giving the illusion of slow motion before landing on top of the net. The Brackens revival ensued but to no avail as Loughmore closed the game in fantastic fashion. Brackens were awarded one final free but needing a goal with men on the line was going to be a tough task and Shane Scully’s effort was tipped over.
Loughmore Castleiney: David McGrath; Tommy Long, Eddie Connolly, Willie Eviston; Tom King (0-1), Ciaran McGrath (0-1), Aidan McGrath; Noel McGrath, John McGrath (0-1); Evan Sweeney (0-2), Liam Treacy, Eamon Connolly; Cian Hennessy (1-0), Liam McGrath (0-2), Shane Hennessy (0-1, 1F). Subs: Mossy McGrath for Eamon Connolly (h/t).
JK Brackens: James Farrelly; Killian O Neill, David Ryan, Keith Kennedy; Tommy Kennedy, Kevin O Riordan, James Bergin; Michael Lynagh, Cathal Scully (0-2); Eoin Fitzpatrick, Lorcan Egan (0-1), Shane Scully (0-4, 3F); Alan O Riordan (0-2, 1F), John Dunne, Dean McEnroe. Subs: Tom Byrnes for E. Fitzpatrick (38), Damian McBride for D. McEnroe (38), Johnny Nevin for M. Lynagh (47), David Murphy (52).
Referee: Denis Curtis.