Portumna will be hoping Joe Canning’s return from injury later in the year can salvage their season after another harrowing Group 1 defeat makes them the current favourites to drop down to Senior B.
Castlegar struck for their goals at the start and end of a game that they never looked like losing, despite Portumna being competitive for three-quarters before their main scoring threat Ronan O’Meara was sent off after an off-the-ball incident.
Enda Concannon’s early goal gave Castlegar a tonic start, and while O’Meara’s frees kept Portumna in touch, Oisín Connolly appears to be a ready-made replacement for dead-ball specialist Ger Farragher, clipping over seven from seven in the opening period.
With Donal Barry and Matthew Kilgannon driving them on from midfield, Castlegar always looked the more potent side, and they could have opened a more comfortable lead had Seán Neary converted a penalty after Jack Coyne was fouled on 23 minutes, but Ivan Canning made a good stop.
Portumna had a decent tally of 0-10 on the board by the break, eight of those coming from O’Meara frees, but their shooting had also been wayward too often. Castlegar led by seven thanks to a late scoring spree that included excellent scores by Dean Higgins, Neary, and Kevin Keane.
Portumna ate into that deficit when O’Meara drove a close range free to the net, but Castlegar’s response was swift as Oisín Connolly grabbed two fine points from play. After O’Meara’s exit, Portumna battled gamely, but there was only ever going to be one winner as Castlegar cruised to a victory that boosts their scoring difference in a tight group.
Elsewhere, Turloughmore continued their good form as Daithí Burke returned to action with a 1-20 to 2-11 win over Liam Mellows, while Conor Cooney made a quicker than expected recovery from his ankle injury to help St Thomas to a 2-15 to 1-8 win over Tommy Larkins that leaves Group 1 delicately poised.
In Group 2, Gort erased a nine-point half time deficit via two Ger O’Donoghue goals to draw with Loughrea on a 2-14 apiece scoreline, while Joseph Cooney’s return from Australia and his excellent form was the big news as Sarsfields played out a thrilling 1-19 to 3-13 draw against Kilnadeema-Leitrim.
Cappataggle also recorded their first win as a rousing final quarter saw them defeat Tynagh Abbey-Duniry by 3-17 to 2-13, while in Senior B Group 1 Athenry continue to set the pace after a four-point win over Padraig Pearses. Oranmore-Maree drew with Ahascragh-Fohenagh in a low-scoring contest to continue their positive start, while Craughwell were comfortable winners over Beagh.
In Group 2, Killimordaly and Clarinbridge both have two wins from two after defeating Abbeyknockmoy and Ballinderreen respectively. Davy Glennon goalled for Mullagh as they defeated Ardrahan by 13 points, with all sides must now going into hibernation until September when a wide-open championship will resume.
CASTLEGAR: L. O’Reilly; B. Hartnett, C. Ryan, S. Thomas; M. Connolly, T. Mannion (0-2 ), D. McGreal; D. Barry (0-1 ), M. Kilgannon; S. Neary (0-3 ), O. Connolly (0-13, 10fs ), K. Keane (0-1 ); E. Concannon (1-2 ), J. Coyne, D. Higgins (0-2 ). Subs: M. Fahy (1-0 ) for Kilgannon (43 mins ), T. Kimball (0-1 ) for Coyne (50 mins ), A. Tummon for Higgins (60 mins ).
PORTUMNA: I. Canning; T. Quinn, P. Smith, S. Heagney; D. Hayes, M. Dolphin, S. Tuohy; O. O’Sullivan (0-1 ), A. Smith (0-4, 3fs ); N. Connelly, R. O’Meara (1-10, 1-8fs ), G. Lynch; D. Donoghue (0-1 ), K. Hayes, O. Canning. Subs: S. Brien for O. Canning (27 mins ), D. O’Meara for Lynch (30 mins ).
REFEREE: S. Hynes.