Naomh Conaill got their season up and running with a comfortable seven point win over Division One new boys, Milford, in Davy Brennan Memorial Park this evening.
Naomh Conaill 2-13
Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy and Leon Thompson scored the goals, one in each for locals, who lined out without County U-21 Ethan O’Donnell.
While there were seven points between the sides in the end, Milford led by a point at half-time and deservedly so.
Milford played at times with 13 and sometimes 14 in defence, and with Joey Cullen and Luke Barrett working hard in the midfield, they broke at pace.
And the quick ball into the Black brothers, Kyle and Darragh and Pauric Curley, caused Naomh Conaill problems.
Darragh Black, in particular, was a real thorn up front and hit three of his side’s ten first half points as Milford recovered from a fourth minute Dermot Molloy goal to come from 1-1 to 0-1 down in the first five minutes to draw level by the ten minute mark.
And with Black in form, the Sky Blues had opened up a two point lead, 0-7 to 1-2, by the end of the first quarter. Black scored two of the points and the impressive Tony McNamee added the other.
The visitors continued to frustrate the Naomh Conaill attack with their packed defence.
And they added three more points as they led 0-10 to 1-6 at half-time.
And when they went three up thanks to a Tony McNamee special inside a minute of the restart, the upset was looking possible.
But Martin Regan had rejigged at half-time. Eunan Doherty was employed as a sweeper in front of the Black brothers on the resumption.
And Jeaic McKelvey, who had replaced the injured Johnny McLoone late in the first half, grew into the game.
The youngster, who had a fine game in the middle of the field, along with Ciaran Thompson took a firm grip on the game.
And two quick points from McKelvey and Aaron Thompson tied up the contest on 34 minutes.
They pinned Milford back in their own half and with John O’Malley and Aaron and Ciaran Thompson finding the range, the locals had opened up a three point lead, 1-11 to 0-11, by the end of the third quarter.
Pauric Curley kicked a good point to reduce the margin to two. But this proved to be Milford’s last score and the game as a contest when Leon Thompson polished off a sweeping move to tap home goal number two for a 2-11 to 0-12.
That was on 48 minutes and it was all Naomh Conaill from then to the finish as the game fizzled out as a contest.
Apart from Ethan O’Donnell, Naomh Conaill lined out without Leo McLoone, Anthony Thompson, Marty Boyle, Eoghan McGettigan and Seamus Corcoran, all injured.
NAOMH CONAILL: Stephen McGrath; Aaron Thompson (0-2), Jason Campbell, Ultan Doherty; Eunan Doherty, Kevin McGettigan, Eoin Waide; Ciaran Thompson (0-2), Johnny McLoone; Ethan O'Donnell, Dermot 'Brick' Molloy (1-2,1f), John O'Malley (0-4,4f); Brendan McDyer, Paul McGuinness, Leon Thompson (1-2).
Subs: Jeaic McKelvey (0-1) for J McLoone 24, inj; Logan Quinn for P McGuinness 41; Cathal Ellis for E O'Donnell 50; Ciaran Gallagher for L Thompson 56; Hugh Gallagher for J O'Malley 57; Charles McGuinness for E Waide 58.
MILFORD: Caolan McGettigan; Conor McNulty, Barry McNulty, Thomas Evesson (0-1); Tony McNamee (0-2), Paddy Peoples, Joey Cullen, Luke Barrett; Gary Merritt, Chris Barrett (0-1), Cathal McGettigan (0-2,1f, 1’45’); Kyle Black (0-1), Padraig Curley (0-2), Darragh Black (0-3).
Subs: Kane Barrett for C Barrett 49; Gavin Grier for P Curley, Kieran Sheridan for C McNulty, both 50.
REFEREE: Mark Brown (Four Masters)