Mullingar Shamrocks and reigning champions Garrycastle are this week preparing for an intriguing county final clash on October 3. Shamrocks proved too strong for The Downs in the first of the two semi-finals played in Cusack Park last Sunday. Garrycastle’s ability to score goals proved decisive in the second game as they overcame Killucan on a scoreline of 3-12 to 1-13 in a proverbial game of two halves.
Mullingar Shamrocks 2-08
The Downs 0-10
Cian O’Leary bagged two goals for the Mullingar men and in many ways they proved to be the difference between the sides in the end. Controversy surrounded his second major after 40 minutes with The Downs adamant that it was a square ball. The goal stood and try as they might there was no way back for the Black and Ambers from there on.
While Shamrocks always looked the most likely winners and enjoyed a four point lead at half time they were not as impressive as I was expecting. Perhaps the fact that both sides knew each other so well played a part in the fact that the game never sparked to life.
The Downs have put last year’s disastrous year well and truly behind them and can be pleased with their efforts in 2010. They needed at least one goal as the game progressed but were unable to breach the Shamrock’s rearguard. There were times when they would surely have benefited from being a bit more direct with their delivery to the full-forward line.
Ray Smyth is back in familiar territory in a county final, this time with Mullingar Shamrocks. He will be only too well aware that a repeat performance would not be enough to dethrone the reigning champions. However he will also have confidence that he has the material to seriously worry Anthony Cunningham’s men. Denis Corroon was introduced last Sunday and made a difference and will surely play a bigger part come county final day. Kieran Gavin who along with Corroon summered in the States will also hoping to see action on October 3. It promises to be one hell of a final.
Killucan looked to be well on their way to causing one of the biggest upsets in years as they carried a five-point led into the break against favourites Garrycastle. Indeed having led by seven points at one stage during the opening half and having squandered two glorious goal opportunities, Dermot Brady and Aidan Lennons men could have been even further ahead at the break.
Garrycastle were totally outplayed by a livelier Killucan outfit in that opening half. Yet whatever was said at half time certainly had the desired effect as they were a transformed outfit on the resumption. Justin McAteer who had a big performance throughout pointed shortly after the restart to kickstart the comeback. Goals from Mark McCallan and Conor Cosgrove swung the tie firmly in the green and reds’ favour and when Cosgrove raised his second green flag in impressive style with 10 minutes remaining there was only going to be one winner.
Killucan certainly made their mark on this year’s championship and while things looked remarkably good for them at half time they can have no doubts that they were beaten by a better team on the day.
Anthony Cunningham, whose Galway u21 hurlers went down badly to Tipperary the previous evening in the All-Ireland decider, must have been a worried man at the break. The introduction of Enda Mulvihill at the break strengthened them at the back and gradually they took control throughout the field. Being able to call on players like Aidan Browne, Shane Mulvihill, and ‘Dollar’ Daly is a luxury which not every club can enjoy.
Garrycastle will be favourites to retain their crown and on last weekend’s second half display look like they will be a tough nut to crack again. October 3 is D-day and I for one am looking forward to it.