A slightly overcast but bright and dry evening gave us ideal conditions for this second round match in the 2019 Westmeath senior football championship. Shandonagh started the game playing from left to right as we sit in the stand in Cusack Park.
Noticeable from the start was the absence of our usual big man in the middle David Duffy but he was ably replaced by Jeremiah Scully and Ben Treanor who started midfield for Shandonagh. The throw in was well won by Jeremiah who was fouled in possession and quickly took the free himself finding Mickey Boyle making a good run out from the full forward line. The ball is eventually sent in the direction of Cormac Coyne who gets the first score of the game by winning the ball well with his marker close on his back, running a few yards towards goals and then tapping it over the bar.
The next 10 minutes were Killucans as Shandonagh struggled to settle into their usual pattern of play. Shandonagh were not clicking into the right formations for the kick outs as the support players are missing from around the catcher. Killucan were finding routes up the field too easy but were not capitalising on the chances that came to them and struck a number of shots wide. The Shandonagh backs were giving their men too much room and up the other end of the field the forwards were not running with the nippiness we are used to seeing from them. Indeed an early Wednesday evening game for players from all of our county clubs can only be a tough challenge with the heat and pressures of work that many of them face.
Alan Hickey did start very well and his own sense of positioning was a great help anytime Killucan came up the field. In the 8th minute Daire Conway gave a direct pass into Mickey Boyle who was fouled and Brian Kavanagh was just wide with the resultant free. A short while afterwards Conway made a great interception when Killucan were working the ball towards the Shandonagh goal.
With 10 minutes gone and score is 2 points to 1 in favour of Killucan with the leading team moving the ball easier down the field into their forwards but their shooting letting them down and they should be ahead by more.
Shandonaghs second score came from another great ball by Daire Conway up to Mickey Boyle who turned sharply and went straight through towards the goal but was fouled and Brian Kavanagh converted the resultant free. Mickey Boyle himself was then unlucky when he did very well to win the ball and stepped through two Killucan backs to shoot with his left boot but the ball went wide. Shandonaghs third point was a super score from the left foot of Gareth Carr who put the ball over the bar after getting a pass from Cormac Coyne.
Killucan then struck by getting a goal in the 16th minute when a loose defence gave them too much room and the ball was blasted past Conor Craig into the bottom left corner giving the keeper little chance.
Shandonagh started to then slowly settle into the game and in the 18th minute Daire Conway pulled off another great rob gaining possession back for Shandonagh. The backs also got stuck in exemplified by super defending by Cathal Craig who battled in a very physical tussle with his man to gain possession of the ball in the corner and relieve the pressure on his defence. Jenson Nagle then made one of his trademark gallops up the field and was fouled when a heavy fist into his midriff is used to tackle him.
In the 22nd minute with the score Shandonagh 0:04, Killucan 1:03 Brian Kavanagh sent a pass into Cormac Coyne who was fouled and Jeremiah Scully converted the free with a lovely stroke of the ball with his left foot. With the resultant kick out Gareth Carr demonstrated his aerial agility again as he fetched the ball from the skies.
Brian Kavanagh was in possession and needed to be inch perfect with his kick pass through the eye of the needle into Ciaran Shanley and he was but then Shanley was fouled 40 meters out on the right of the middle. The resultant free kick from Jeremiah Scully dropped short into the Killucan goalie who fumbled possession but no Shandonagh man was on hand to get a boot or fist to the ball missing the opportunity for a score.
Killucan then came back down the right hand wing and had us momentarily worried with their corner back in possession and heading towards goals but Shandonagh exerted enough pressure to ensure his kick went wide. Shandonagh moved the ball back up the field and Kevin Boyle worked hard to keep the ball in when a shot came off the left upright but his kick for a point went right and wide.
On the 30 minute mark Shandonagh were forced to make a substitution with Aaron Flanagan coming on for the injured Jeremiah Scully. The first half ended with Shandonagh being very lucky with the amount of wides Killucan are kicking and the Shandonagh players look like they are stuck in 2nd gear and have not hit cruising speed at all yet.
Half time score
In the 2nd half Shandonagh are playing from right to left towards the Harbour Place Shopping Centre end of the pitch. Killucan won the throw in but Shandonagh regained possession very quickly with Christy Coyne then launching a long pass into Mickey Boyle who turned and put it over the bar for the first score of the second half.
It would be safe to assume some choice words were said to the under-performing Shandonagh team at half time and they definitely hit home as displayed by Gareth Carr who showed total commitment football by bravely diving in on a low ball and intercepting a Killucan pass with scant regard for anything or his own safety except regaining possession for Shandonagh. Brian Kavanagh was very unlucky in the 3rd minute with his left footed kick coming off the right hand upright and out wide. Daire Conway was timing his interceptions to perfection getting the ball back for Shandonagh and storming up the field.
Cormac Coyne battled to retain possession on the half forward line and got in a shot towards goals but his resultant kick was too low and intercepted by the Killucan corner back.
In the 7th minute Gareth Carr took a quick free finding Aaron Flanagan coming out on a great run from full forward, Flanagan offloaded to Alan Hickey who put the ball over the bar.
Ciaran Shanley was next up kicking a great point from out on the 45 and displaying his scoring abilities. With 10 minutes gone Shandonagh have definitely upped their performance from the first half display and are getting more into the game with the score now 1:06 to Killucan and 0:09 to Shandonagh. It was end to end football now with both teams defending well.
A brief moment of madness then as Shandonagh won a sideline ball on their own 45 but the ball was crossed straight into the middle and easily intercepted by the Killucan full forward who offloaded to his team mate who ran unopposed straight towards goals. How Killucan didn't score another goal we're not sure as it was a one on one then with the Shandonagh keeper but fair play to Conor Craig for his timing on coming out on that forward and putting him off on taking the shot before his reinforcements arrived back to help.
Philip Smith then came on for Christy Coyne 15 minutes into the second half. Shandonagh were still struggling to pick up the breaks from their own kick outs at this stage. In the 17th minute Alan Hughes came on to replace Damian Moran who looked exhausted coming off the pitch. In the 18th minute of the second half Kevin Boyle then got his first score of the game when Brian Kavanagh ran through the Killucan defence passing to Kevin who kicked it over the bar. Brian Kavanagh then converted a free won by Mickey Boyle who was sandwiched between two Killucan defenders.
In the 21st minute Brian Kavanagh received a harsh black card when he forgot to tackle with the near hand and the Killucan runner grabs the hand he puts in and goes down just inside the Shandonagh 45. David Scahill came on for the sidelined Kavanagh.
Daire Conway then made another great run up the field but his kick went just right and wide. Aaron Flanagan, who had looked eager since he came on, then made a great run out the field to win the ball and offloading it to Ciaran Shanley. Shanley then miscued his kick and launched a garryowen into the air but no need to worry as the hands of Gareth Carr were underneath it and he regained possession again.
Moments later Philip Smith came upfield and launched one of his usual over or wide rockets but it came straight back off the right hand post with no Shandonagh man nearby to react.
Ben Treanors athleticism was then very evident as he made a sublime tackle on the Shandonagh 45 dispossessing the Killucan speedster who was heading for the Shandonagh goals. A short while later Kevin Boyle was fouled and the referee brought the resultant free kick forward 13 meters due to mouthing and Boyle converted it himself. Ben Treanor came again with another great interception as he put the hand up at the perfect time breaking up a Killucan attack.
Gareth Carr then fired a dangerous ball into the Killucan square but the Shandonagh forwards were just pipped by the Killucan defence in getting to the ball. Cormac Coyne was confined out near the sideline on the Killucan 21 meter line but still managed to put a great ball across to Gareth Carr who was unlucky with his kick just hitting the right side of his boot and going right and wide.
A bit of tiredness was setting into both teams at this stage but Shandonagh definitely had more spring left in them. A great cross field ball by Alan Hickey found Alan Hughes who stroked the ball straight over the bar from just inside the 45. Shandonagh came very close to getting a goal then as Kevin Boyle wen at the Killucan goalie and let fly but the ball was a half meter off the ground with enough height that the keepers body saved it but the keeper definitely felt that rocket of a kick.
Next was a great forwards move with Mickey Boyle first sprinting straight towards the Killucan goal when he offloaded to Aaron Flanagan who took up a great inside position and Flanagans unselfish pass across the goals is an easy palm into the net for Ciaran Shanley - brilliant goal. Kevin Duffy came on for Daire Conway with a minute to go in normal time.
Killucan got the last 2 points of the game to leave them 3 points down with injury time nearly up. The end was helter skelter as Shandonagh defended the balls being lobbed in with Killucan looking for the goal but the Shandonagh defence was well able to handle it. Killucan could feel aggrieved at not winning this game but fair play to Shandonagh as it takes a good team to keep battling and come out with the win when the are not firing on all cylinders.
Full time score
Conor Craig, Cathal Craig, Daire Conway, Jenson Nagle, Gareth Carr, Alan Hickey, Christy Coyne, Ben Treanor, Jeremiah Scully, Damian Moran, Kevin Boyle, Ciaran Shanley, Brian Kavanagh, Cormac Coyne, Micky Boyle
Aaron Flanagan for Jeremiah Scully, Philip Smyth for Christy Coyne, Alan Hughes for Damien Moran, David Duffy for Brian Kavanagh, Kevin Duffy for Daire Conway