Killannin and Salthill/Knocknacarra played out a high quality 0-13 to 1-10 draw on Saturday evening at Moycullen pitch in the first round of the senior club championship.
For long periods of this enjoyable encounter Killannin looked the more likely victors and they led at 0-8 to 0-3 at half-time.
In that first period the quality and strong running of Johnny Heaney, Cathal Sweeney, team captain Niall Walsh and Patrick Sweeney were key factors in an impressive 30 minutes of football.
However just before half-time a rash and uncharacteristic decision from Killannin defender Ruairí Greene when he led with the elbow and received a straight red card from referee Austin O’Connell was to have a key bearing on the game.
With Killannin reduced to 14 men for the entire second half and playing into a solid breeze, the game swung in the city side’s favour, and Salthill’s managment team of Anthony Finnerty and Maurice Sheridan allocated their extra man wisely to attack Shane Sheridan’s kickouts and put the Connemara men on the back foot.
Armstrong’s goal crucial
The score which ensured Salthill grabbed a football in the game was a well-taken goal by Sean Armstrong, who lined out at centre-forward.
The county man took a pass on the run and raced through before planting the ball expertly into the back of the Killanin net. That three-pointer left the score at 0-11 to 1-04, but it provided much needed oxygen to Salthill’s challenge. Despite two more super points from Patrick Sweeney, there was always a feeling Salthill could catch them if there was sufficent time.
Former county minor star Robert Finnerty also lofted a good point off his left foot and Seamie Crowe popped a lovely score with the minimum of fuss to leave Salthill within touching distance of a tiring Killannin outfit.
Salthill ran their bench to gain a little more momentum, and a crunching tackle by Gearoid Armstrong on Cathal Sweeney near the sideline also led to a Salthill score.
With time almost up, and Salthill a point behind, they were awarded a contentious late free from distance. Their new recruit – county goalkeeper Ruairí Lavelle, who is a big addition to their squad, ambled forward to take the shot.
The Boffin man hit it really well and on target, forcing Killannin goalkeeper Shane Sheridan to parry it up over the bar for the equalising score.
On reflection, Sheridan would probably acknowledge he could have caught the ball, and if he had, perhaps it would have led to a win for his side.
Killannin had led for almost the entire game and their management team of David Melia and selectors Marvin Lee, Peter O’Halloran and Rob Lee will be disappointed they did not close out the game to sneak a win.
They had good performers in Ronan Caldwell, David Walsh, the two Sweeneys, Johnny Heaney (first half ) and Enda Kelly, who kicked a few frees.
Lavelle kicked out very well for Salthill, whihle Gavin Duffy got on a good bit of ball at the back. Evan Wynne worked hard in tracking Heaney, John Maher did some good things around the middle, and up front Seán Armstrong was their most dangerous forward, with good support from his brother Gearoid, Brian Conlon, Robert Finnerty and impact sub Seamie Crowe.
Corofin's Michael Lundy and Conor Kelly of Claregalway in action from the opening round of the Senior football Championship games at Tuam Stadium on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy
Annaghdown's Adam Quirke comes under pressure from Tuam Stars Seamus Kelly and Paul Collins in action from the opening round of the Senior football Championship games at Tuam Stadium on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy
Ciaran Duggan Annaghdown and Cian McNamara Tuam Stars in action from the opening round of the Senior football Championship games at Tuam Stadium on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy