Sean Connolly’s overcome Granard

Sean Connolly’s recorded a crucial win over St. Mary’s in the opening round of the Senior Football Championship at Oliver Lynch Park, Abbeylara on Friday evening last and even at this early stage the Granard side are under serious pressure to avoid relegation.

Sean Connolly’s recorded a crucial win over St. Mary’s in the opening round of the Senior Football Championship at Oliver Lynch Park, Abbeylara on Friday evening last and even at this early stage the Granard side are under serious pressure to avoid relegation.

Peter Hanley Motors Senior Football Championship Group 3 - Round 1 - Sean Connolly’s 0-11, Granard St. Mary’s 0-8

The game could have gone either way with St. Mary’s failing to convert a penalty in the first half and entering the final five minutes of this tight contest there was just one point between the teams. In the end Connolly’s came out on top with two late points from Stephen Lynch and Martin Brady clinching the victory.

St. Mary’s will wonder where it went wrong for them. They started the game brightly, played some lovely football but their possession wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard while they felt that some dubious decisions went against them.

Sean Connolly’s were dealt a blow before the start of the game when three players got injured in the warm-up and they had to re-shuffle their side and this affected them as they were slow to settle.

Inside the opening 10 minutes Granard registered three points with the scores coming from Darren Gallagher, Fergus Kelly and Paul Smyth, the latter on target following a well-worked move.

A free from Enda Dalton in the 12th minute opened the Connolly’s account and while that was followed with a point from Brendan Treacy, a beautiful score from Liam O’Rourke put St. Mary’s ahead by two.

In the 16th minute Treacy was penalised for fouling Darren Gallagher in the small square and Granard were awarded a penalty but Derek Sheridan struck the kick off the butt of the post.

It was a major let-off for Connolly’s and two scores in quick succession from Paddy McDonnell and Enda Dalton saw them level matters. Another fine point from O’Rourke edged Granard back in front and they led by the minimum of margins at half-time, 0-5 to 0-4.

Two minutes after the break Connolly’s were back on level terms again with a point from Trevor Murtagh and minutes later they took the lead for the first time with a point from Stephen Lynch. While Granard had a lot of the ball they gave away possession too easily on occasions.

The sides were all square again in the 38th minute when Liam O’Rourke shot over the bar in finishing off a move that also involved Darren Gallagher and Derek Sheridan. In the 44th minute the impressive Brian Sheridan was fouled and found Ian Small with a quick free. Small was fouled in a dangerous position and O’Rourke duly pointed the free to put Granard ahead again.

Connolly’s got back on level terms courtesy of a controversial ’45 in the 47th minute. It looked as if a Connolly’s player had punched the ball wide but the umpire saw otherwise and Stephen Lynch fired over the kick.

Connolly’s were awarded a free in the 50th minute and it was converted by Martin Brady and they stretched their lead to two points a couple of minutes later when Trevor Murtagh shot over the bar.

Another Liam O’Rourke free in the 54th minute left a point between the sides but Connolly’s finished the stronger with a brace of scores through Stephen Lynch and Martin Brady to make a winning start to their championship campaign.

SEAN CONNOLLY’S: James McKenna; Gregory Masterson, Paddy McDonnell (0-1), Paddy O’Neill; Andy McNamee, Michael McGlynn, Trevor Murtagh (0-2); Martin Brady (0-2, one free), Frank Reynolds; Eugene Murtagh, Ciaran McEoin, Mark Diffley; Brendan Treacy (0-1), Stephen Lynch (0-3, one ’45), Enda Dalton (0-2, one free)

Subs:- Paul Martin for E Murtagh (injured, 6 mins); Adrian Brady for P Martin (41 mins).

GRANARD ST. MARY’S: Eoghan Mallon; Joseph Connolly, Brian Sheridan, Paddy McGivney; Kevin McGauran, Sean Duggan, Paul Smyth (0-1); Charlie Martin, Thomas Gallagher; Darren Gallagher (0-1), Bernard Clyne, Liam O’Rourke (0-5, two frees); Thomas Devaney, Fergus Kelly (0-1), Derek Sheridan.

Subs: - Ian Small for T Devaney (38 mins); Declan Hynes for F Kelly (44 mins); Gene Kearney for K McGauran (48 mins); James Cassidy for C Martin (54 mins).

Referee: John Bannon

(Legan Sarsfields).