Martin O’Connell managed Walterstown scraped over the line in what was a tense and close opening round to group B of the Intermediate Football Championship in Carlanstown on Friday evening.
Going into the game O’Connell’s charges were favourites to take victory but they had it anything but all their own way on a sunny evening at St Michael’s.
Having been annihilated by Trim in the league the previous Wednesday, Walterstown welcomed back Cathal Hennelly and Conor Farrelly in defence, while captain Alban Crosbie also returned to the starting XV. Their attack was bolstered by the inclusion of Robbie Cunningham and Ruairi O’Dowd but it was the opposition who drew first blood on Friday.
Moylagh went two points in front early on when the impressive Tomas O’Reilly sent over a free and midfield man Sean Reilly split the posts. In fact Moylagh started extremely well and completely dominated the early possession.
Walterstown were hampered by the fact that full back Cathal Hennelly received a black card early on but luckily for the Blacks they found their rhythm, began to get on top and finished out the first half well.
Stalwart Alban Crosbie opened their account when he sent over a free and in the 11th minute Sam McCabe rose to win Aengus Fanning’s kick out before he carried and split the posts to leave his side trailing (0-3 to 0-2) at the midway point of the first half.
Walterstown restored parity three minutes later when Crosbie rose highest and from the resulting mark he picked out Ruairi O’Dowd who fired over the bar.
Moylagh responded well however and nudged in front again by the 19th minute thanks to another converted free from O’Reilly. For the remainder of the half though, it was Walterstown who were on top.
A superb pass from Davy Donnellan picked out full forward Brian O’Connell and he offloaded to his brother Barry who struck over to level proceedings (0-4 to 0-4) with ten minutes of the half left to play. Sam McCabe doubled his tally when he raised a white flag after collecting possession from wing back Aron McLoughlin and for the first time in the game the Blacks found themselves in front.
Despite losing Conor Farrelly to a thigh injury, Walterstown remained strong in the run up to the break. Alban Crosbie sent two frees and Farrelly’s replacement Mark McCormack also split the posts. However, Moylagh did add to their tally before the interlude when Tomas O’Reilly bagged a point from play to leave the scoreboard ready 0-8 to 0-5 at the break.
Just 30 seconds after the turnaround an absolute beaut of a point from Ruairi O’Dowd saw Walterstown stretch their lead to four but it was quickly cancelled out by a point from Joe Melia to leave the score at 0-9 to 0-5.
Moylagh were soon back on level terms though when full back Darren Gibney hit the back of the net. In a sweeping move Gibney picked out Tomas O’Reilly with a pass and he offloaded to Sean Reilly. Gibney continued his run and collected the pass from Reilly before striking past John Davis in the Walterstown goal to leave the score at 0-9 to 1-6 after 34 minutes.
Three on the trot for the Blacks, courtesy of Crosbie (two frees) and O’Dowd left them leading 0-12 to 1-6 at the midway point of the second half.
Walterstown were guilty of some poor shooting and errors in the minutes that followed however and were punished when when O’Reilly sent over a free to reduce the deficit to just two by the 49th minute but Crosbie did manage to settle the nerves with a converted free with five minutes of normal time left on the clock.
Cathal Hennelly received a red card in the 57th minute and Moylagh took that as their opportunity to really put the pressure on the Walterstown rearguard. O’Reilly sent over another free to reduced the deficit to two but Davy Donnellan cancelled it out with a point down the other end.
Adam Treanor saw his shot on goal superbly saved by Angus Fanning and the insurance point came from the boot of Brian O’Connell in the third minute of stoppage time.
Moylagh were persistent however, and by God they did they try hard for a goal during the closing stages. But they had to be content with two points in the end as Walterstown clung on for the two point victory.
Up next for the Blacks is a second round meeting with St Patrick’s in Duleek on August 14, while Moylagh take on St Michael’s in Carnaross.
SCORERS: Walterstown – Alban Crosbie 0-6 (5f), Ruairi O’Dowd 0-3, Sam McCabe 0-2, Barry O’Connell 0-2, Mark McCormack 0-1, Davy Donnellan 0-1, Brian O’Connell 0-1.
Moylagh – Tomas O’Reilly 0-6 (5f), Darren Gibney 1-0, Rory Gibney 0-2, Sean Reilly 0-2 (1f), Joe Melia 0-1.
WALTERSTOWN: John Davis; Peter Reynolds, Cathal Hennelly, Eoin O’Mahony; Conor Farrelly, Colin McGrane, Aron McLoughlin; Conor O’Sullivan, Barry O’Connell; Robbie Cunningham, Alban Crosbie, Sam McCabe; Davy Donnellan, Brian O’Connell, Ruairi O’Dowd. SUBS: Mark McCormack replaced C Farrelly (inj) 28 mins, Adam Treanor replaced S McCabe 44 mins.
MOYLAGH: Aengus Fanning; Shane Gibney, Darren Gibney, Aaron Hand; Alan McCann, Padraic Traynor, Sean Peyton; Sean Reilly, Joe Melia; Niall McLarney, Tomas O’Reilly, Ciaran Burke; Rory Gibney, Colm Fionnin, Peter Fox. SUB: Ciaran Hannon replaced R Gibney 37 mins.
REFEREE: Keith Sheerin.