The quest to win the elusive Oscar Traynor trophy begins again. The team Jimmy Nolan has assembled is representative of over 40 clubs in the county yet 10 minutes before kick-off you could count the number of spectators in Terryland Park on one hand. The numbers eventually swelled to maybe 60, but the question has to be asked – is anyone bothered about this once revered competition?
Not that Nolan will be too bothered by it. Given the nature of the preparations, this was always going to be a tough assignment. Faced by a side who had beaten them earlier this year and then gone on to the semi-finals before narrowly losing out to Limerick, a win of any sort was always going to be gratefully accepted.
Nolan expressed his satisfaction with his charges afterwards yet knows more work will be needed to advance to the latter stages. “We got a good start and then gave away two sloppy goals unfortunately in the first half after working so hard to get our own two. In the second half we weathered the storm for about 20 minutes alright.
“Once we got the lead goal I thought we took over from there on in. We kept possession of the ball, we weren’t panicking. It’s great to start with a win anyway. You always want more time with the players, but their clubs have to get the time as well so we try and divide it as equally as we can.
The rearrangement of the tie, that kind of speeded things up a bit too much, but apart from that everything went well and everyone is eager to play, that’s the best part about it.”
For possibly the first time, a town team began their campaign without a player from either Mervue United or Salthill Devon in the starting XI, as both clubs’ priorities have shifted towards Eircom League duty in recent times. Nolan is still confident that a strong team can be produced for the challenges ahead.
“We’ve had a few players who’ve had to cry off through injury and stuff, so there’s still a few more players to come into the squad. There’s a great pool of talent out there, it’s just to go and find them all. Hopefully we can find one or two more.”
One that he has unearthed is Oranmore’s Brian Mannion who put in a tireless 90 minutes effort and was rewarded for a fine debut with a brace of goals as well as a hand in Conor Clery’s first. “I’ve seen Brian a couple of times. He’s very strong, very quick, very intelligent too when he gets the ball as you saw. He took his goals very well, as did Conor Clery.”