Johnstownbridge Start the 2015 Kildare Senior Championship Campaign with Determination and Hard Work
Kildare Senior Football Championship Round 1
Saturday 9th May 2015 at Hawkfield
Johnstrownbridge 3-10 Monastervan 1-08
A huge amount has happened in the footballing world of Johnstownbridge GAA since we played our last Championship match under lights in Hawkfield’s Centre of Excellence back in September 2014, the night we were beaten by the team who subsequently went on to win the Championship outright – Moorefield. It must be said we gave a great account of ourselves that night too!
To mention just a few events – Daniel Flynn has come back from Port Adelaide after deciding the oval ball wasn’t for him although is currently out due to injury, Seán Hurley has since left to have a try at the same shaped ball with Freemantle and we wish him well. Paddy O’Donoghue has stepped down after a fantastic stint as our manager and handed the reins to Emmet McDonnell. Our team Captain Keith Cribbin sustained a cruel injury to his knee a couple of weeks back during a game against Athy, rendering him out of action for his Club and County for the season and as we all know a massive loss to both teams. Players who were on the fringes last year have since come of age and are ‘chomping at the bit’ to get at least a run if not expect to start league and championship games. All things considered we are in a good place, it’s not a perfect world; if it was, Meath would be in Division 4 and Kildare would be hammering Dublin in Croke Park year on year, we make the best of what we have – and we have lots!
Hawkfield’s pitches looked this afternoon as if they’d somehow avoided the downpours of rain that we’ve all witnessed in the past week; in our centre of excellence it was like May unlike the other 3 corners of the county where it was more in keeping with a week in or around February. The team warm-up went on as the crowd trundled into the stand at a steady flow nobody rushing, a nice atmosphere was building slowly. Club Championship is a special time in the GAA calendar and the supporters enjoyed the novelty and atmosphere. Keith went in for the toss even though he couldn’t take part in the game, which sent the right message, I’m not able to play but the Captain is here and I can still contribute if only from the side-line.
Both teams took to the field in sunny conditions and Monasterevan secured the first score after 3 minutes, a minute before they kicked the first wide. In the back of their minds they remembered the recent league defeat to JTB back in April when they lost out on a score of 2-10 to 0-05 points. Was there a worry that our lads could perhaps take their eye off things subconsciously and assume that it was a done deal? No – JTB don’t prepare that way and Monasterevan deserved as much respect as any team in the draw, this is Championship and league results go out the window. The ‘Bridge registered 3 wides in succession through Sam Doran, Paul Cribbin and then Eoin O’Donoghue who missed a kickable free (by his high standards). Monasterevan had another few wides before JTB registered their first score in the 9th minute through Kelvin McNally from a free kick taken out of the hands. His brother Cathal made a nuisance of himself to the opposing defence who had no option but to foul. Soon after, Cathal and Kelvin linked up well with a short 45 from Kelvin to Cotzy who set up Jimmy Farrell for the second score 2 minutes later JTB 0-02 Monasterevan 0-01. Jimmy tacked on the 3rd point in the 13th minute after a well worked move involving Seamus McNally, Des Holton, Cotzy and Sam who gave Jimmy the chance. Monastervan replied through Wayne Fitzpatrick in the 14th minute with a free from 46 yards bringing his team’s deficit to just one. Kelvin missed a 45 a minute later after Sam’s effort at a point took a deflection off a blue and white jersey. Three minutes later Paul burst out of the half-back line like a man possessed, picked out an inch perfect pass into Barry McNally who set up Vaughan the JTB serial goal scorer. Niall struck the ball with the outside of his right boot and the keeper was flat footed. His only choice to watch the ball slowly find its way to the back of the net to his left, JTB 1-03 Monasterevan 0-02.
A minute later Gary Kelly pointed for Monasterevan to get back to a position where the goal only separated the two teams. Sam Doran got his name on the board after Kelvin gave him a lovely opportunity and he finished well off his left boot over the bar as the clock registered 20 minutes. From the kick out from this score, Seamus Mc won the ball and sent it straight into his brother Cotzy who was making more runs than their defence could handle, he took it off his left and it was never in doubt JTB 1-05 Monasterevan 0-03. Again Cotzy pointed after Barry linked up with Seamus who again gave in a pass to engineer the score. The four McNally brothers were on fire to which Monasterevan had no answer.
The teams exchanged wides, two from both teams before Niall again hit the net this time with a fisted effort after Kelvin secured the ball in midfield gave it to Barry who found Niall then playing a one-two with Cotzy before raising the green flag, JTB 2-06 Monasterevan 0-03 with just a minute left to play in the first half. Paul Kelly added to the Monastervan score before the break from play 20 yards out to go in at half time JTB 2-06 Monasterevan 0-04.
The second half began with a new slower rhythm, Monasterevan the first to score in the second period after 5 minutes with another Fitzpatrick free. Cotzy won another free 3 minutes later which Kelvin kicked from the hands just outside the D to get things back again to an eight point gap. Soon after Monasterevan dug deep to their credit, and a well worked move ending with Christy Dempsey finding Wayne Fitzpatrick who rattled the net to pull back the score and ensure the game wasn’t out of their sights JTB 2-06 Monasterevan 1-05.
Just before Kelvin pointed again from a free to bring the gap to six again, Paul Cribbin’s number 9 jersey had a lump torn out of it which tells its own story, O’Neills the only ones who’ll profit from this as Paul was moving at high speed even when there was extra baggage attached to his shirt.
Kelvin pointed again from play after the McNally brothers again mounted an assault which was neutralized by Paul Kelly moments later in the 47th minute. The Monasterevan captain Eoin Stapleton scored an unorthodox point a minute later after winning clean possession in midfield kicked in a long ball, the ball bounced in front of Christy Dempsey and his marshal Luke Flynn. Both players misjudged the bounce and it ended up going over our goalkeeper Ian Farrell’s head for a point, they all count! Monasterevan registered two wides before Cotzy won a nice ball 25 yards out with only his own marker to beat to get through on goal. His marker rugby tackled him to the turf and a black card was the only fair result. A yellow was shown. How often have we witnessed an obvious black card magically turning yellow? Last year in our 2nd round replay against Allenwood, Cotzy received one which was if anything a yellow, yet the black was yielded. You just need to get on with it, in reality it didn’t have an impact on proceedings but some day it will and our association need to improve on this at once.
Kelvin pointed from the free to leave the scores at JTB 2-10 Monasterevan 1-07 with nine minutes left on the clock.
In the 55th minute of the game Sam was substituted for his brother Glen. Glen was on the field about 30 seconds and straight away profited from a ‘McNally Brothers’ move, Kelvin found Cotzy who set him up for a goal chance and to be fair to Glen he made no mistake and the keeper had no chance. Monasterevan added another score before the final whistle through Paul Kelly to leave the final score JTB 3-10 Monasterevan 1-08.
A good solid start to the Championship for our lads, there were things to improve on as always but there were more positives. The work rate was unquestionable in every quarter of the field. There were spells when the opposition couldn’t get out of their own 45 such was the tenacity and enthusiasm of the pressure being heaped upon them and the tight marking coupled with closing down of options by the lads in green white and blue. The first box has been ticked, Senior status is secured but this team won’t settle for that, there’s another few chapters to be written yet.
The Club Championship is on hold now until the Kildare team exit the All-Ireland Series.
Johnstownbridge 1 I Farrell, 2 Des Holton, 3 L Flynn, 4 M Donnelly, 5 S McNally, 6 J O’Connor, 7 I McKeown, 8 B McNally, 9 P Cribbin, 21 S Doran 0-01, 11 E O’Donoghue 0-01, 12 K McNally 0-04 (3 frees) 13 N Vaughan 2-00, 14 C McNally 0-02 15 Jimmy Farrell 0-02 Subs 10 G Doran (1-00) for S Doran 18 D Donegan for J Farrell 20 P Haslam for J O’Connor