Cuchulainns pick up opening win over Rorys

Intermediate Football Championship

Cuchulainns 1-14

Belturbet 0-14

Paul Fitzpatrick at Kingspan Breffni

Cuchulainns passed a stern test from Belturbet in this intermediate opener on Sunday. The Cross-Mullagh men, full of running and displaying impressive fitness levels, played some sparkling football but never truly put the underdogs away, with the result that there was just a goal between the sides at the end of a match which Cuchulainns played on their own terms for the most part.

While the Rorys played with great spirit, typified by the industrious Enda Henry, they are in transition after a few years competing strongly at the top end of intermediate tanks and were just out-gunned on the day against a Cuchulainns side who have a wealth of attacking options.

Belturbet were reliant on Enda Henry frees, for the most part, to keep the scoreboard ticking over. At half-time, Cuchulainns held a five-point lead, 1-7 to 0-5, with Henry accounting for four of the Rorys’ points (three frees and a mark).

Henry and Bryan Magee traded frees early on; Henry (mark) and Sean Kenny then raised white flags before the goal arrived on 14 minutes. Conor Smith, Kenny and Magee were involved in a superb passing move which resulted in Adam O’Reilly walking it in for a great team goal.

Donal McDonald and Smith exchanged points but Cuchulainns then pulled away, Adam O’Reilly and Magee (two frees) each landing a brace to make it 1-7 to 0-4.

The Rorys, with sub Eoin McGuigan giving them an extra option in a target man role, cut the gap at the midway point with a Henry free.

Cuchulainns started the second half with a 40-metre point from the stylish O’Reilly and a fine score from Kenny; McDonald booted over another with the outside of the right for Belturbet but a left-footed O’Reilly effort and a point for Jamie Fitzgerald made it 1-11 to 0-7 as Cuchulainns seemed set to ease home.

However, Belturbet had other ideas. Fionnán O’Reilly got them going again – fit-again Evan Doughty curled in at the other end with his first touch but Belturbet landed two in succession from McDonald and a McGuigan mark.

Cuchulainns were creating chances, with Niall Carolan outstanding coming out of defence, but three wides on the trot meant the game wasn’t killed off and Belturbet dug deep in the closing stages with Henry landing two and sub Jason O’Reilly converting a free.

Magee steadied the nerves with a free; Henry did likewise at the other end as the Rorys tried to engineer a goalscoring opportunity but Cuchulainns were steadfast and held on for a deserved win.

Belturbet: Aaron Donohoe, Donal McDonald (0-3), Peter Shannon, Kevin McConnell, Shane Fitzpatrick, Stuart Dunne, John Cahill, Mark Lawlor, Cian Vaughan, Killian Murray, Fionnán O’Reilly (0-1), Brendan Vesey, Sean Óg Lawlor, Enda Henry (0-8, 5f, 1m), Jack O’Callaghan

Subs: Augustus Sailis for Murray (26 mins), Eoin McGuigan (0-1m) for O’Callaghan (30), Jason O’Reilly (0-1f) for McDonald (53), Andrew Dunne for Cahill (58)

Cuchulainns: Glenn Prendergast, Cian Donoghue, Eoghan McCabe, Philip Smyth, Niall Carolan, Ruairi O’Connell, Christopher Tully, Eoghan Donoghue, Mark Gilsenan (0-1), Jamie Fitzgerald, Adam O’Reilly (1-4), Killian Lynch, Sean Kenny (0-2), Bryan Magee (0-5f), Conor Smith (0-1)

Subs: Turlough Farrelly for Fitzgerald (22 mins, temp, reversed 25), Evan Doughty (0-1) for Smith (39), Michael Kenny for Fitzgerald (45), T Farrelly for Smyth (47), Conor Flanagan for O’Connell (47), Adrian Taite for Donoghue (63)