Slane 1-08 Cortown 0-17

Cortown navigated their way through the Ledwidge Country on Wednesday evening, successfully resisting the temptation to venture into one of the many pubs on the journey.

Cortown were without the services of captain/sergeant Brían Smith and brother Daragh whilst Slane were missing several key men who were part of the team that defeated Cortown in the Championship last year. Sporting a glorious new jersey, the men in yellow wind assisted were quick to stamp their authority on the game with Davy Rispin curling over to open the scoring. Big Richie Flanagan’s two-minute cameo on the 40 was cut short due to injury with the inked assassin replaced by the impact sub and former Meath Minor Daragh O’Halloran who gladly took his place in the full forward line.

Captain for the night Tommy Smith doubled Cortown’s lead soon after with a well-taken point on his supposed weaker right foot. Slane responded briefly but Rispin would cut inside and lash over from range after good work from top Jockey Lukey Carberry. A glorious defense splitting ball from Hugh Staunton would find Rispin who called a mark with the legendary Gus Martyn on hand to clarify. The resulting ball was sent over.

A rare defensive lapse in the Cortown back line enabled Matty Tully to point a free for the Slane men but Cortown were well on top all over with the backline outstanding – Mikey Rennicks, Johnny McGearty, Lover Boy Cormac Lindsay and Barry Canning all making key contributions. Ryan O’Rourke’s distribution on the main was top notch and he found the impressive debutant Luca Brady on occasions to great effect.

Tommy would soon add to his tally with another improvised score as the visitors led 6-2 at the first water break. Slane did improve after the break but another brace of long range Rispin scores along with a Staunton free would keep the hosts at bay despite the best efforts of Eanna Mooney in the middle of the park who was their best player. The final act of the first period was a routine free for Rispin to tap over after enterprising work from Leaving Cert student Ciaran Keating. It was Dalton’s men who led at the break, 0-9 to 0-4.

The second half didn’t have the same pace or intensity as the first with the rock-hard pitch and clammy conditions making things more a war of attrition. In saying that, Cortown’s game management was top notch with Lindsay departing his centre-half birth to split the posts just like a good Fly Half in rugby! Slane struggled to reduce the deficit anymore and Smith would land his fourth of the evening with a second mark of the night after a wonderful ball from Brady.

The superb Staunton would weave his way through soon after and get a sufficient connection as the ball dropped agonizingly over Darren Berrill’s crossbar. Berrill himself hit a couple of outstanding trademark points from long range over the bar, just as he’s been doing for some time now. Rispin would break the mini-sequence with a free after the growing influential Keating was fouled on the edge of the D.

Dalton would unload the substitutes in the final Quarter with the game in the bag and Big Odhran Henry who replaced impact sub-O’Halloran, would belt over from close range after a beautiful sweeping move from Cortown despite the ball nearly landing in Drogheda. 42-year-old Ivor O’Halloran was then replaced after a typically industrious performance, despite being 25 years older than Brady on his flank who made a significant contribution on the night.

Ironically with the game and time almost up, Slane did hit their purple patch late in the day notching 1-3 in the last 5 minutes but it was all academic. O’Rourke made a splendid stop at the expense of a point to ensure it wouldn’t be a grand stand finish. Staunton caressed a free inside the near hand upright to bring a close to the scoring.

Overall, this was a very pleasing opening outing of the year with plenty still to work on but a win in the ledger and 2 valuable points in the bag. Decky Clarke complemented Staunton very well in the middle with the half backline’s influencing growing as the game went on whilst the full forward line looked potent throughout. Cortown now can look forward to an appetizing encounter with Kilmainhamwood in Cortown next Wednesday with both looking to maintain their 100% record.

Cortown: Ryan O’Rourke, John McGearty, Barry Canning, Mikey Rennicks, Stevie Clarke, Cormac Lindsay (0-1), Luca Brady, Hugh Staunton (0-3,2fs), Decky Clarke, Luke Carberry, Richie Flanagan, Ivor O’Halloran, Davy Rispin (0-8,3fs,1m), Tommy Smith (0-4,1m), Ciaran Keating.

Subs: Daragh O’Halloran for Richie Flanagan, Odhran Henry (0-1) for D O’Halloran, Ryan Henry for I O’Halloran, Conor Mulroe for Carberry, Mickey Costello for S Clarke.