Munster Club Junior Football Championship Quarter-Final:
KNOCKNAGREE (Cork) 5-15 0-8 KNOCKAVILLA DONASKEIGH KICKHAMS (Tipperary)
An historic first-ever foray into the Munster Club Championship for the Knockavilla Donaskeigh Kickhams club ended in a chastening 22-points defeat for their junior footballers against Cork champions Knocknagree at Mallow on Sunday.
In essence this was a mismatch in terms of quality, for on the evidence of this display the North Cork side wouldn’t look out of place against some of the senior clubs in Tipperary such was the quality of their performance. The game in effect was over after only 20 minutes when a second goal for Knocknagree gave them an unassailable 2-9 to 0-3 lead. Thereafter it was a long afternoon for the West Tipperary side and when the full-time whistle did come 40 minutes later it brought a welcome conclusion to a very disappointing day.
Having said that, even in this heavy defeat there was still plenty to admire about the efforts of the Kickhams who manfully from start to finish stuck to their task. Right throughout they matched the opposition in terms of effort and commitment to the cause, and for a few brief periods here and there looked a match for the Cork side. But overall they were clearly punching above their weight in this contest against the Cork/Kerry border side who on the previous weekend had captured the Cork county crown with a hard-fought win over Erin’s Own.
Right from the outset Knocknagree went about their business taking control with their counter attacking style of play. They were already 0-4 to 0-1 ahead when disaster struck for Kickhams. A promising move for the Tipp side presented Walter O’Carroll with a point-scoring opportunity but his hesistancy was seized upon and in a lightning-fast move via the hands of a few players Padraig Collins was presented with the easiest of chances to ram home the first goal from the edge of the square.
With a dangerous looking forward division getting up to speed, further points from Donagh Moynihan, Karl Daly and John F. Daly had Knocknagree 1-7 to 0-1 up after just 13 minutes; David Butler’s early free being the Tipp’s side only reply.
Two points in quick succession from Ger Browne and Brendan Ryan boosted the Kickhams but the reprieve was but temporary.
Corner-forwards Matthew Dilworth and Fintan O’Connor responded before the second goal arrived in the 20th minute. Once again the inter-passing at speed from a counter attack caught out Kickhams with Chris White, Danny Cooper and Eoghan McSweeney involved in the build-up to Fintan O’Connor’s goal. At 2-9 to 0-3 it was game over as far as a contest was concerned.
Such was the economy and accuracy of the Corkmen in the opening period that it was 23 minutes into the game before they recorded a wide; Kickhams on the other hand were wasteful with seven bad misses in the first half. Knocknagree wanted to make sure with every chance; Kickhams against a water-tight rearguard were forced to kick from distance too often.
Five minutes into the second half Knockavilla Kickhams suffered the concession of their third goal. Derek Breen was caught in possession coming from defence and the error was punished brutally when Fintan O’Connor played Chris White through to give Kenneth Horgan no chance.
Horgan had a busy day between the posts and could do little about the goals conceded but he did pull off one marvellous save midway through the second period when denying James Dennehy after another defence-splitting Knocknagree attack carved open Knockavilla.
Kickhams had to wait 14 minutes into the second period for a score when the hard-working Shane Morrissey kicked a good point. Four minutes later they had a second when Gavin McCormack finished a chance that David Horgan and Eoin McCormack had combined to create.
With the game well and truly over the fourth goal arrived eight minutes from time, again following a turnover by an under-pressure defence. This time the impressive Dilworth and Daniel Murphy combined for substitute David O’Connor to net. The Cork bench all clearly out to impress with their opportunities of game time.
Kickhams' Shane Morrisey then ran a long way through the middle to score his second point of the day seven minutes from time and the same player earned a free a few minutes later which the always-honest David Butler converted to leave the score at 4-14 to 0-7 with time almost up.
In time added-on Knocknagree added their fifth and final goal scored by corner-back Gary O’Connor with subs Sean Twomey and David O’Connor both involved in the build-up.
Tipp minor Ger Browne had the final say with the game’s last score, a small reward for the young star's never-say-die attitude on a testing day. He also had his side's only real goal chance halfway through the second period when a run in from the right wing saw his shot go just wide.
The victors, in boxing parlance, were a weight or two above the Kickhams and will take some beating in this competition. They possess a solid defence which counter-attacks at pace and in midfielders Danny Cooper and Padraig Collins they look solid and strong. But it is in the forward line that the Cork side have plenty of options with the likes of John F. Daly, Eoghan McSweeney, Matthew Dilworth and Fintan O’Connor proven scoretakers.
Beaten in the Tipp county final by Loughmore/Castleiney last weekend, Knockavilla represented their county with heart and couldn’t be faulted for their honest endeavour all through. The absence of the injured Paul Breen further hampered their cause on Sunday last. In defence Eoin McCormack, Derek Breen and especially Brendan Ryan stood out. Shane Morrissey ably manned the midfield area assisted by Elliot Thompson and Michael Shanahan at different stages. Up front Shane Morrissey and David Butler took the game as best they could to their opponents.
Knockavilla/Donaskeigh Kickhams: Kenneth Horgan, Kevin Fitzgerald, Cathal Morrissey, Eoin McCormack, Brendan Ryan (0-1), Derek Breen, Michael McCormack, Elliot Thompson, Ger Browne (0-2), Michael Shanahan, Shane Morrissey (0-2), Walter O’Carroll, Joe Griffey, David Butler (0-2F), Dean Thompson.
Subs: Nathan Ryan for O’Carroll (29); Gerry Horgan (Capt.) for Griffey (HT); Killian Loughman for M. McCormack (36); Gavin McCormack (0-1) for Fitzgerald (38); David Horgan for D. Thompson (44); Padraig Hickey for B. Ryan (48).
Knocknagree: P. Doyle, P. O’Connor, S. Daly, G. O’Connor (1-0); K. Daly (0-1), K. Buckley, D. Moynihan (0-1); D. Cooper (0-1), P. Collins (1-0), James Dennehy, E. McSweeney (0-5, 0-4F), Chris White (1-0); M. Dilworth (0-3), J.F. Daly (0-2), F. O’Connor (1-2).
Subs: T. Coopery for P. Collins (36); C. O’Leary for Buckley (38); T. Long for F. O’Connor (41); D. O’Connor (1-0) for McSweeney (47); D. Murphy for P. O’Connor (black card, 51); S. Twomey for Dennehy (53).
Referee: Eamonn Moran (Kerry).