Drumalee finish strongly to down Munchies by six

Junior Football Championship Round 2

Drumalee 1-11

Munterconnaught 0-8

Paul Fitzpatrick at Kingspan Breffni

A powerful last quarter made the difference here as Drumalee picked up their first win of the championship.

The sides were level at 0-7 apiece with 47 minutes played before Ciaran O’Malley’s charges upped the ante and they ran out comfortable winners in the end against a Munterconnaught outfit who tried hard but made too many errors, particularly up front where they registered 10 wides.

Drumalee came into this game off the back of a good performance in defeat against Templeport in the Division 3 league final and a championship opening round loss to Knockbride in which they rallied late on to lose by three.

Munterconnaught, for their part, had made the league semi-final, and had a handy win over Swanlinbar in their opener. The Munchies lost that semi-final to Drumalee by six and that result was replicated here.

At half-time, Drumalee were leading by double scores, 0-6 to 0-3. In very warm conditions on a beautiful sod, neither side had their shooting boots with them in the opening half hour, with defences on top.

Munterconnaught opened the scoring with a free from full-forward Enda O’Shea in the fourth minute but they would register just twice more in the first half as they found a mean and resolute Drumalee defence hard to break down.

Cian Byrne slotted over a 45 after Gary Rock saved well from Tomás O’Keeffe and quickly added a point from play. Munterconnaught’s next score was another Enda O’Shea free, sandwiched between three wides, but Drumalee responded well with the best score of the half, a long-range belter from Tommy Walsh, in the 16th minute.

Sean O’Kane, from play, and a Byrne free made it 0-5 to 0-2; Stephen Sheridan replied for the Ryefield men and 10 scoreless minutes followed as Drumalee went in leading by three.

Both sides recorded wides on the restart before Corey Gilsenan took a pass from Paddy Matthews and showed good pace around the outside to point.

A Tomás O’Keeffe point, from half a goal chance, made it 0-7 to 0-4 but Munterconnaught then rallied and drew level.

Their fifth point came after brave defending from Sean Clarke to thwart Leigh Dunne; that launched a counter-attack which was finished by a long-range Eoin O’Shea score.

Buoyed by this, they added two more from Sean Nolan in the space of a minute. For the first, he gathered off the shoulder from sub Fionn O’Reilly and blasted over from 40 metres and, after good work from Danny Nolan, Gilsenan and Enda O’Shea, he fired over again less than a minute later.

That tied the game just as the water break was called but on the resumption, it was all Drumalee. O’Kane won a free which Byrne curled over well.

From the resulting kick-out came the all-important score. Andy Fallon fielded well, Byrne played it long to Sammy Brady and the ball was worked to O’Keeffe, whose powerful finish was perfect.

Soon afterwards, Drumalee were on the mark again when Byrne showed deft skill to create and finish a chance.

Munterconnaught responded with an Enda O’Shea free but Drumalee weren’t done yet and in injury time, they recorded two more well-taken points from sub Eamon Quinn and Byrne to win going away.

This was an impressive victory for Drumalee, who are possibly the most improved team in the county at present. They are a vastly experienced side who have been re-energised by their management this year and are performing well to a defined game plan built on strong defence and quick ball to the likes of Byrne, O’Kane and target man O’Keeffe.

Munterconnaught, who, on paper, have a nice blend of youth and experience, have been knocking on the door for some time but have a bit to go yet if they are to make a splash in this competition.

Drumalee: Brian Coombes, Daire Donohoe, Philip McArdle, Eoin Donohoe, Kieran Lynch, Enda McCormick, David O’Keeffe, Greg Duffy, Andy Fallon, Tommy Walsh (0-1), Sean O’Kane (0-2), Leigh Dunne, Gerard Reilly, Tomás O’Keeffe (1-1), Cian Byrne (0-6, 2f, 45)

Subs: Sammy Brady for G Duffy (43 mins), Aidan Lee for K Lynch (47), Eamon Quinn (0-1) for L Dunne (49), Jamie Heffernan for T O’Keeffe (59), Dean Sherlock for G Reilly (60)

Munterconnaught: Gary Rock, Cejay Reilly, Sean Clarke, Fergal Keoghan, Stephen Gargan, Conor Meehan, Cian O’Shea, Danny Nolan, Eoin O’Shea (0-1), Stephen Sheridan (0-1), Sean Nolan (0-2), Paddy Matthews, Corey Gilsenan (0-1), Enda O’Shea (0-3f), Oscar Erickson

Subs: Fionn O’Reilly for Erickson (ht), Samuel Ajala for S Sheridan (46)

Ref: Harry Conaty