Carna Caiseal men return to top flight after final victoryOctober 11, 2012 - 7:00am
Cian O’Connell at Pearse Stadium
THESE are interesting times for Carna-Caiseal who capped a splendid year with a fully merited County Intermediate Football final win over Athenry at Pearse Stadium on Sunday.
Carna-Caiseal controlled the tempo of this contest from the outset and while Athenry were rugged for the first quarter, the Connemara outfit eventually found their range. That meant Athenry were forced to chase the game and they aren't built for that with Carna-Caiseal expertly exploiting the uncertainty.
Athenry brought their usual cocktail of courage and commitment to Salthill, but in deciders an extra bit of attacking class can be decisive and it was. Ultimately Carna-Caiseal had a far more potent forward unit and not even Athenry's organisation could thwart Seán Ó Cualain's charges.
Initially Athenry were everything the decent crowd expected them to be: solid and resourceful, dropping men behind the ball, and their pluck did frustrate Carna-Caiseal for a spell. Bizarrely neither team managed a score until Michael Ó Cathasaigh clipped a sweet 14th minute point and from that juncture on Athenry's grit was overcome by Carna-Caiseal's power and pace.
Physically imposing and adopting a smart running approach from the back, Carna-Caiseal also had the option of ferrying direct ball inside too where their star turn Niall Coyne was influential. The cute way Carna-Caiseal mixed the short and long style meant that Athenry were in distress and their industry didn't carry as much value as it had earlier in the competition.
This fixture was always going to be decided by Carna-Caiseal's mindset and the favourites were primed, ready, and able for the battle. Others might have got frustrated by the tough start considering Athenry were willing to get down and dirty, but Carna-Caiseal remained defiant.
Ó Cathasaigh's first score was followed by an excellent Stiofán Ó Currín point. Declan Beirne, one of the few Athenry attackers to pose a threat, replied in the 17th minute, but Carna-Caiseal seized the initiative.
Four points in as many minutes gave them a commanding advantage and it badly damaged Athenry's prospects. Their intention was to keep it low scoring, but Carna-Caiseal's flurry was a significant statement.
Coyne, executing the target man role effectively, landed vital efforts either side of a fine point from captain Seosamh Seoige, who delivered several important cameos in the latter stages of the championship. Michael Ó Cathasaigh ended a fine Carna-Caiseal burst nudging them 0-6 to 0-1 ahead in the 24th minute, but Athenry were resilient.
Cathal Fahy, similar to Beirne was starved of quality possession, but he did wriggle clear to kick a point which was followed by a Ronan O'Reilly free. Suddenly questions were being posed of Carna-Caiseal again, but a settling pre interval score from Seoige off his weaker right foot gave them a 0-7 to 0-3 half-time cushion.
In a scrappy match it was quite a healthy buffer, but Carna-Caiseal wanted to inflict further damage during the third quarter. That is precisely what they did. Within nine seconds of the restart Seoige nailed a delightful score and then moments later added a free.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.