Johnstownbridge Begin Their Senior Campaign with a Win over Confey
Senior Football Championship First Round Sun 11th May 2014 in Kilcock GAA
JTB 1-12 Confey 1-11
On an ambivalent afternoon in May, the weather not knowing what season to espouse to, dark clouds hovered over an immaculately laid out pitch by the hosts, Kilcock GAA, to their credit. Two North Kildare teams locked horns, the ‘Bridge North-West and Confey North-East. To the largely packed crowd’s fortune, the rain waited patiently until 3 minutes after the final whistle, before unleashing its misery.
From the throw-in Johnstownbridge reminded the onlookers that they had truly earned their right to contest the Senior Championship, the largest prize in Kildare Football. Many can argue this team should have been here sooner, but that is history now, history wouldn’t get scores on the board nor would turning up. This team was going to prove they weren’t promoted to make up the numbers, Gaelic Football in Johnstownbridge isn’t trivial, it means more to us than outsiders can understand, and everything must be left on the field, not for personal glory this is about the team, the club, the parish…..
From the throw in the gauntlet was laid down, within 30 seconds Cathal McNally was in possession and turning his man heading for a scoring position but pulled down by the Confey defence caught off guard, Seán Hurley took the 40 yard free which subsequently went to the left and wide. Less than a minute later Seán’s companion for the day Confey’s Hugh Lynch, had a shot from open play 45 yards out which too went wide. This novel Inter-County midfield pairing would perhaps decide the battle some onlookers felt. A few minutes later Cathal set up Keith Cribbin for a goal chance which was saved by the Confey netminder, Brian Corscadden after a super run by Jimmy Farrell making space on the right flank.
The stalemate was over after 5 minutes when Hugh Lynch pointed to break the deadlock. Less than a minute later Derek Donegan collected a ball from Keith 25 yards out and made no mistake sending it over the bar, the sides were level. Confey and JTB exchanged wides through two county men, Lynch and Paul Cribbin respectively before Keith made it 2 points from a 45 won by an effort from the boot of Ian McKeon 12 mins in. The teams were sizing each other up not wanting to show their hand too early. Confey’s tactic at this point was to flood the midfield and stem the supply of ball into the forward line, it was working so far.
Jimmy Farrell’s unceasing efforts were rewarded soon after in the 14th minute with a point from play after Keith had won a breaking ball in midfield and employed Eoin O’Donoghue to release Cathal finding the seemingly un-markable Jimmy. Confey pulled one back through Frank Barry to leave the score JTB 0-03 Confey 0-02 just seconds later. James Gately levelled the game from a free given away lightly for handling the ball on the ground 25 yards out, 16mins on the clock and the sides were level.
A minute later Keith won a ball in the middle of the field and sent a clever pass over to the left wing to find his brother Paul in a nicely worked position, Paul broke the tackle and took his point. Derek had a near goal chance minutes later but to be fair Corscadden was in the right spot again to deny the effort. Luke Flynn won a free 20 yards out from the Confey goal after a great run out of his resident full back line, Cotzy took the free from his hands to get the Bridge 2 ahead with the first half 19 minutes old. A goal followed from none other than the industrious Jimmy Farrell after 22 minutes after receiving a pass from Cotzy, the momentum was building and the shackles were off, the nerves of entering the Senior ranks were gone, left in the dressing room beside the gearbags and mobile phones JTB 1-05 Confey 0-03. Every breaking ball in midfield was being won by the men from the North-west of the county, Seán went on a run through midfield found Paul with a pass who laid it off to Keith, and Keith fisted it over the bar to leave 6 points between the teams. Cotzy put another point on the board in the 24th minute from another free after after Jimmy was brought down again by the Confey defence who could get to grips with his running the score now JTB 1-07 to 0-03. Confey upped their intensity and fought back getting a point on the board through James Gately in the 27th minute. Confey threw everything at Johnstownbridge coming up to the 30th minute but couldn’t unlock the superb defending along the 50 yard mark which forced the Liffey-siders to pass laterally across the pitch looking for a weak spot that wouldn’t reveal itself. Just before the break we were treated to a cameo appearance by the Kildare Hurling Captain Paul Divilly who came on as a blood substitute in the dying minutes of the half.
The teams went into the break JTB 1-07 Confey 0-04. This was a good place to be as there was a slight breeze in our favour for the opening half. The sun came out in all its glory during the break after a murky launch to the proceedings, to the delight of the spectators, officials and players alike. The only shadow now cast, was the limping of the midfield giant Seán Hurley who kept Lynch silent for long spells.
The second half began with sides unchanged. The first ball won in midfield by Seamus McNally who found Cathal who immediately was held back and given a free kick, nothing came of the free and Confey pointed seconds later from James Gately. A minute later Jimmy Farrell took a pinpoint pass from Seamus and pointed even though Confey seemed to foul him several times unnoticed by the officials. The gap remained at 6 points. Confey created several chances but their finishing was letting them down notwithstanding the efforts by the ‘Bridge defence who worked tirelessly on and off the ball to cut out moves from various angles. Derek pointed in the 9th minute of the half after Keith came bursting through from the half backline making 50 yards before giving Jimmy a pass, Jimmy sent in high ball to Derek to leave the score 1-09 to 0-05. Confey’s Donal McLean was shown a black card for a cynical challenge on Eoin, and replaced by Graham Caffery. Keith pointed from the ground with a wonderfully curled placed effort. Colm Chan for Confey was yellow carded in place of John O’Neill in a case of mistaken identity for a challenge on Cotzy off the ball. Confey followed with a well worked point from Lynch after the Confey playmaker Cawley created the chance JTB 1-10 Confey 0-06. Cotzy pointed with the score of the game 15 mins in to the second period with an effort from play on his left boot sending the ball over from a tough angle using serious curl to force the ball between the uprights to put 8 points between the teams. Jimmy Farrell again proving elusive drew a foul from Niall Cawley and a yellow card into the bargain, Keith unfortunately missed the chance pulling it left of the target. Seán Hurley was found lying in the centre of the field moments later after trying to run off the earlier knock, his game was over with twelve minutes to go. Confey pointed through Savage immediately after to leave 7 points between the sides. At this point Niall Vaughan was trying to get on as a replacement but the referee wasn’t letting him enter the fray for reasons unclear. Hugh Lynch made strides without Seán on the field using his height to win possession unchallenged at times, although Jimmy Farrell (not the tallest man on the pitch) made his presence felt to Hugh and received a yellow card from referee Brendan Cawley. Confey scored through Gately from the subsequent free and felt they could pull it back pushing hard 1-11 to 0-08 points. Niall eventually made his way on almost 4 mins later slotting in at full forward with Cotzy coming out into the midfield battle.
Confey got their act together and began stamp their authority on the match with another free pointed by Gately leaving 5 between the sides. Keith missed a difficult free before Ian McKeon also kicked a wide. Cotzy scored another great point from the left boot and JTBs last score of the game with 5 mins left on the clock 1-12 to 0-09. Gately points from a free with 3 mins to go before Lynch scores a free after a challenge from his county teammate Cotzy. Gately then goals with a minute to go soccer style from the ground leaving only a point between the sides 1-12 to 1-11. JTB held on well to reach the final whistle with 2 mins of injury time played. It could have been more comfortable but all credit to Confey, they never gave up and tested the ‘Bridge men perhaps helping to galvanise future efforts when the pressure comes on.
Well done lads it’s great to see Johnstownbridge giving a big performance on the big stage. There were no passengers on the field every single player gave it their all.
We all look forward to the next Championship game, and of course division 1 matches to come in the next few weeks and months ahead.
Confey 1 B Corscadden, 2 J O’Neill, 3 F Ryder, 4 C Chan, 5 N Cawley, 6 P Griffen, 7 T McCann, 8 H Lynch 0-03, 9 J Gately 1-05 (3 frees), 10 D Slattery, 11 G Savage 0-02, 12 C Jennings, 13 D McLean, 14 F Barry 0-01, 15 J Keogh 0-03 Subs Caffery for McLean (BC) McKiernan for Jennings
Johnstownbridge 1 I Farrell, 2 J O’Connor, 3 L Flynn, 4 P Mooney, 5 J Morrin, 6 Cian Farrell, 7 E O’Donoghue, 8 S McNally, 9 S Hurley, 10 I McKeon, 11 K Cribbin 0-03 (2 frees), 12 P Cribbin 0-01, 13 J Farrell 1-02, 14 C McNally 0-04 (2 frees), 15 D Donegan 0-02 0-03.
Subs Niall Vaughan for Seán Hurley