Caherlistrane’s spirit sees them over the lineJune 21, 2012 - 7:00am
Frank Farragher at Tuam Stadium
First round losers they might have been, but both sides tore into this senior qualifier at Tuam Stadium on Sunday evening with admirable gusto before the spirit of Caherlistrane eventually saw them through a most entertaining tie.
There were times, most notably at the end of the first half, when Claregalway’s extra inches and aerial power around the midfield sector looking like swinging the match their way, but just when they seemed most vulnerable, Caherlistrane would bounce back for life-injecting scores.
The prize now for Caherlistrane is a second round play-off against Milltown while Claregalway must lick their wounds and re-group for the relegation round-robin group – both sides though can look forward to their contrasting challenges in a reasonably positive frame of mind.
In the end, Caherlistrane prevailed because of an unflinching refusal to accept defeat and also because their scoring threat – although principally concentrated on Cormac Bane – still contained more menace around the fringes than Claregalway.
Claregalway’s main tactic was to leave space in front of Danny Cummins in the full-forward line and while the inter-county forward missed the target once or twice early on, he proceeded to give a great exhibition of point scoring both from play and frees over the hour.
When Cummins rattled off three points from play in a row, during a four minute spell during the third quarter – complemented by a close range Paul McGuinness effort – to put his side 0-8 to 0-5 ahead with the interval whistle looming, Eoin O’Donnellan’s side looked to be in a very strong position.
The scores reflected some powerful ball wins around the midfield sector by Barry Cullinane but in the three minute spell before referee Shane Hehir blew the interval whistle, Caherlistrane sounded a real note of defiance.
After Claregalway full-back Pat Stephens lost a ball coming out of defence, Ronan Conneely powered through for a neat point before Cormac Bane hit the target from a free – with virtually the last kick of the half, energetic wing-forward Shane O’Brien levelled the match at eight points apiece.
Three times in the earlier stages of the first half, the sides were level. Danny Cummins, Paul McGuinness and Conor Glynn were on target for Claregalway with Cormac Bane, Ciaran Murphy, Barry McCabe and Ronan Conneely replying for Caherlistrane.
Cummins struck two further early second half blows for Claregalway but Caherlistrane – whose influence around the fringes of midfield in hovering up breaking ball was increasing – hit back like a recoiled spring with points from Ciaran Murphy and Cormac Bane (2).
Although Barry Cullinane was still working hard to secure primary midfield possession for Claregalway, Caherlistrane just enjoyed that overall edge in industry, while the recall of Rory Glynn from attack to keep tabs on the elusive Cummins was also beginning to pay dividends.
Caherlistrane ‘keeper Brian Keane did well to finger-tip a long range effort from Joe Garrett over the bar but as the half progressed, Ronan Conneely was giving the Claregalway defence a lot of angst, kicking two critical points into the bargain.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.