Carnaross ran out comprehensive winners in the end against a dogged Clonard side by a flattering 16 points in an immaculately presented Kildalkey pitch on Friday night. It was a welcome return to championship football after a 353 day hiatus.
Clonard began proceedings with a bang knocking over two exquisite long range efforts. In truth Carnaross struggled to match the intensity of their South Meath opponents in the first ten minutes. Frank O’Reilly drove at the heart of the opponent’s defence to register our first score to kick start the winners challenge
Clonard continued to pile on the pressure and it was level at 3 points apiece at the first water break. The Carnaross defence were struggling to contain Niall Smullen who gave an exhibition of football both in open play and from frees.
O’Reilly doubled his total with a free and Niall McDonnell levelled the teams after collecting the ball on the loop. The short 90 second water break had the desired effect on the Carnaross troops as they took control of proceedings.
Shane O’Reilly turned on a sixpence to expertly evade the Clonard rear guard and this was followed by Dillon Fox’s long range curled effort that caused consternation amongst the umpires.
The Hoops’ tails were up and a major blow was struck was Frank expertly picked out a surging Cian O’Reilly who calmly finshed the ball to the net. Clonard weren’t content to roll over and to their credit responded with 2 points to narrow the margin again before O’Reilly concluded the first half scoring with a well-executed pointfrom a mark. At half time The North Meath men lead by 1-7 to 0-5 after surviving their opponent’s early onslaught.
The second half began where the first half concluded: a Frank O’Reilly score from a placed ball. Paddy McDermott kept the scoreboard ticking over as the Carnaross attack found their rhythm.
One of the highlights of the game was the midfield battle between Adam Flanagan and Luke Gillic. Flanagan lorded the skies for the first quarter but as the game progressed, Gillic grew in confidence and together with his midfield partner Cian McGlynn, they wrestled control of the game with pure heart and doggedness.
This ensured that plentiful ball was being supplied into danger men Niall McDonnell who finished the competitiveness of the contest by reacting quickest to hammer a loose ball into the net.
The half back line of Carpenter, Fleming and O’Reilly made rampaging runs throughout the hour and O’Reilly added to his tally before the tireless Fleming added another. Niall McDonnell had a superb game finishing with 1-4 from play.
This impressive total included two outside of the boot efforts from either side of the goalposts, something he will never tire of reminiscing about. Clonard never gave up but luck was not on their side as countless chances ended up being intercepted or spurned. They might have secured a lifeline were it not for the smart double save by Conor Kenny in the Ross nets, denying about potential comeback. Cillian Comaskey split the posts after a mazy run as the game came to a conclusion
Overall the score line was flattering on Carnaross as Clonard were in contention with 20minutes remaining but the men in maroon and saffron converted their chances amicably taking control after Clonard raced out of the blocks. We now look forward to a Round 2 encounter with Boardsmill in 2weeks.
Carnaross: Conor Kenny, Ian Donoghue, Tomás Plunkett, Jack Roche, Peter Carpenter, Cian O’Reilly(1-1), Pierce Fleming(0-1), Cian McGlynn, Luke Gillic, Paddy McDermott(0-1), Dillon Fox(0-1), Shane O’Reilly(0-1), Cillian Comaskey(0-1), Frank O’Reilly(0-8), Niall McDonnell(1-4)