In a game that was vital for both sides in the battle for a place in the Senior Football Championship quarter-finals the ingredients were there for a close and exciting Round 2 game at the Monaduff grounds, Drumlish on Saturday evening last.
Abbeylara were the most anxious, having lost their first round game agaunst Mullinalaghta, and a win was essential towards their progress to the knock-out stages while Dromard, who looked good in their three point victory over Clonguish, were seeking to add two more points to their standing in their group stage of the Connolly Cup.
The light rain that fell made the ground a little slippery and an added challenge to the skills of the Abbeylara and Dromard sides.
The game opened brightly for Abbeylara when inside the first 8 minutes they had two points each from Robbie Smyth and Conor Berry, the second of which was a great volley which the Dromard goalkeeper, Damien Sheridan, made an excellent save in stopping a goal and tipping the ball over the bar.
Dromard were finding it difficult to get into the game but in the 9th minute an excellent point from the lively Ross McNerney opened their account. From the resultant kick-out Bernard Sheridan won clean possession and set up Francis McGee for Dromard’s second score, leaving two between the sides, 0-4 to 0-2.
In the 11th minute, the ever alert referee, Derek Fahy, spotted Pauric McNerney foul Nigel Rabbitte and awarded a free to Abbeylara that Robbie Smyth tapped over. From the resultant kick out Dromard attacked and Diarmuid Masterson was fouled, leaving the accurate Ross McNerney to slot over his second point of the game.
In the 15th minute the determination of Conor Berry paid dividends when he won, lost and regained possession to set up James McEntire to extend the lead to three points.
At this early stage Abbeylara looked the hungrier side, winning most of the breaks and were sharp and crisp in their tackling. Their strategic placement of their team was paying off as Dromard, try as they might, were stifled at most opportunities and could not get a rhythm to their game.
Emmet Masterson then scored when sent through by Bernard Sheridan for Dromard’s fourth point. Abbeylara responded with a point when excellent play between William Crawford and Derek Smyth set up Conor Berry.
Both sides exchanged four points in the closing minutes of the first half and at the half-time whistle Dromard, despite struggling, were only two points in arrears, 0-8 to 0-6.
Dromard opened the second half in determined fashion. Within a minute they had halved the deficit to one point and in the next attack the strong running Diarmuid Masterson set up Francis McGee for the equalising score. 28 minutes to go and the attendance were expecting a battle royal right to the finish but Dromard only scored one more point during the remainder of the game.
In the 37th minute Fergal Battrim sent in a long ball which county minor Conor Berry won before rifling an unstoppable shot past Damien Sheridan. From there on Abbeylara were in total control and over the next 10 minutes they clocked up a further 1-3, the goal coming from another county minor, Nigel Rabbitte.
Between the 49th minute and the end of the game there was no further scores and the only thing of note was the black card received by Dromard player Ronan McEntire in the 56th minute.
The disappointing feature was the total fade out of Dromard during the second half in a match that was there for the taking.
ABBEYLARA: Damian O’Connor; Anthony McBrien (0-1), Fergal Battrim, Eamonn Gallagher; Colm P Smyth, Arthur O’Connor, Colm Dalton; Derek Smith, William Crawford; Nigel Rabbitte (1-0), James McEntire (0-3), Barry Smyth; Robbie Smyth (0-3, 3 frees), Conor Berry (1-3), Enda Ledwith.
Subs:- Jason Kelly (0-1) for D Smyth; Shane Mahon for W Crawford; Brian Smyth for N Rabbitte, Michael McHugh for C Dalton; Cormac Smyth for R Smyth.
DROMARD: Damien Sheridan; Pauric McNerney, Peter Reynolds, John Sheridan; Paul McGee, Jamsie Martin, Emmet Masterson (0-1); Bernard Sheridan, Ronan McEntire (0-1); Francis McGee (0-3), Peter Masterson, Cian Mimnagh (0-2); Declan Mimnagh, Diarmuid Masterson, Ross McNerney (0-2, one free).
Subs:- Kevin Donohoe for P Masterson; Niall Vance for P McNerney; Noel Reynolds for B Sheridan.
Referee: Derek Fahy