Maigh Cuilinn back in senior football after solid win

Moycullen's Mark Lydon lifts the cup after defeating Athenry in the Galway County Intermediate football final at Pearse Stadium on Sunday.            Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy

Moycullen's Mark Lydon lifts the cup after defeating Athenry in the Galway County Intermediate football final at Pearse Stadium on Sunday. Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy

The Maigh Cuilinn footballers were too strong for a hard-working Athenry outfit last Sunday at Pearse Stadium in the county intermediate football final.

Moycullen, who last won this title in 2007, were a good bit better than Athenry last weekend.

The final score was 1-10 to 0-9, but Moycullen probably should have won by more than four points had they pushed on in the second half.

Michael Donnellan's side led by 0-7 to 0-2 at half time with full-forward Dessie Connelly, who is only 17 years old, their star player in that period, kicking three points from play and giving a really tough time to the Athenry full-back line.

Any time the ball went  in his direction, the youngster, who is from the parish of Oldtown, had far too much raw pace and ball control for his direct marker and he kicked Moycullen's first two scores from play to put them on the path to victory. 

Both were fine points and really settled his side. He also kicked their last point of the first half and was the best forward on either side in the first 30 minutes. 

Athenry started poorly and found themselves 0-4 to 0-0 down after only eight minutes, and by the time they shot their first point, a free from their best forward by a considerable distance, Cathal Fahy, they were already in serious trouble.

The Moycullen management team of Michael Donnellan, Ciarán Murphy, Noel Daly, Brian Hanley and Tadhg Bohan opted to play wing-forward Tomas Higgins as a sweeper at the back and go with five forwards up front, and it worked a treat.

Higgins played that role really well and some of his foot passing out of defence in the first half in particular was one of the highlights of the game.

Walsh and Wynne top class

Athenry found it hard to break down the Moycullen defence where Eoin Walsh and David Wynne both produced top-class displays. Former county u-21 star Walsh was  composed in possession and he linked an awful lot of play from centre-back.

Team captain Mark Lydon and Peter Cooke were also in wonderful form and they really dominated the midfield sector, with Lydon catching a world of kick-outs and being the game's top fielder around the middle.

Young Cooke also caught the eye and he hit a few nice points, as well as working  hard and getting a lot of possession in both halves. He is developing nicely and is probably a player whom county manager Kevin Walsh will want to see more of in 2016.

Conor Bohan, not for the first time in a big game, hit his side's decisive goal when he powered through early in the second half and slammed the ball past Athenry custodian Thomas Dolan, who had no chance with the crisp finish.

Others who did well for the Connemara side were goalkeeper Seamus Friel, who kicked out astutely and brought off one important save in the last few minutes.

Maitiú O' Donoghue was powerful in the full-back role and wing-back Gareth Bradshaw was on a lot of ball without making any of his distinctive lung busting drives from the back. Young Sean Kelly also did some good work and rarely makes a mistake in possession. 

Athenry manager Niall Sunderland and his selectors will be bitterly disappointed their side took so long to get going in the game and kicked a few wides in the first period.

However, their overdependence on corner forward Cathal Fahy for scores was a major issue for them. He kicked 0-7 (0-5fs ) of their total, with only impressive wing-back Mark Healy and county player Tom Flynn helping him out in the scoring stakes.

They had other good performances from their confident and adventurous goalie Thomas Dolan, wing-back Mark Healy, and centre-back James Divilly. Tom Flynn worked hard at midfield, as did Niall Gibbons, but Flynn did not have the influence he would have liked and he was monitored carefully by Peter Cooke who was never going to let him go for a good gallop down the middle of the Moycullen defence.

The last time Moycullen won the Galway intermediate title in 2007 they went on to win the All-Ireland club title too. They have a good few players still on the panel who were there eight years ago, and they will fancy their chances of going on a good provincial championship run at the  least over the following few weeks.

Scorers for Athenry: C Fahy (0-7, 5fs ), T Flynn and M Healy 0-1 each

Scorers for Maigh Cuilinn: P Cooke (0-4, 2fs ), D Connelly (0-3 ), C Bohan (1-0 ), P Lydon (0-2, 2fs ) and B Faherty.

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