James Hanley on the attack for Rathcline in evading the challenge of Sean Connolly's defender Tommy Keogh. Action from the Intermediate Football Championship Final on Sunday last. Photo: D Gilmore
Showing fierce resilience after their main man Shane Kenny was sent-off for a second yellow card offence with ten minutes gone in the second half at a stage when they trailed by two points, Rathcline eventually conquered Sean Connolly’s in the Intermediate Football Championship Final at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday last.
Rathcline . . . 1-10 Sean Connolly’s . . . 0-12
Kenny figured most prominently to fire over four points (three from play) in the first half, particularly when switched into the target man role at full-forward, and when he was dismissed it looked as though Rathcline were in big trouble and playing against a deceptive wind.
But the Lanesboro outfit are made of stern stuff and boosted by an immediate point from a free converted by James Hanley, they got the break they badly needed when powerful centre-half-back Shane Donohue (winner of the man of the match award) surged forward to set up Ronan Clyne for a cracking goal in the 42nd minute.
Clyne, operating as the extra defender until he was moved into the full-forward-line after the departure of Shane Kenny, made no mistake in blasting the ball to the back of the net. That was a huge lift for resolute Rathcline who enjoyed the greater share of the possession in producing a very determined team effort during the remainder of this tight match.
Connolly’s were also reduced to 14 players when Frank Reynolds was sent-off after receiving a second yellow card in the 44th minute and they fell further behind moments later when the revitalised Ronan Clyne landed a good point under considerable pressure.
Rathcline now led by 1-9 to 0-9 and while they failed to register another score until James Hanley shot over the bar in the 57th minute they done enough to register a fourth Intermediate title triumph and the second success in the space of three years in this championship.
Connolly’s had closed the gap with a well struck point from Joe Heaney and while Iarla O’Sullivan fisted the ball to the net in the 52nd minute, the Rathcline goal was disallowed after referee Patrick Maguire had already blown for a square infringement.
It might have been a different story for Connolly’s, bidding to win the Intermediate Championship for the first time since 1989, but for a tremendous save by the excellent Rathcline keeper David Mulvihill.
David stopped a shot from Stephen Lynch who got injured in the process of his close attempt to put the Ballinalee boys back in front with 55 minutes gone on the clock.
James Hanley then kicked his third point to leave Rathcline leading by 1-10 to 0-10 before substitute Trevor Murtagh got a score for Connolly’s who tried to engineer a couple of goal chances in stoppage time but all to no avail.
Dessie Reynolds did cut in from the right but his pass against the face of the goalmouth was intercepted by David Mulvihill and the danger was cleared.
Connolly’s had one last chance when they were awarded a close range free in the fourth minute of stoppage time but Dessie Reynolds blasted the ball over the bar in his bid to snatch a last gasp winning goal.
Direct from the kick-out the final whistle was blown and this was a great achievement for Rathcline, considering that they were forced to field without their captain Liam Connerton who sustained a serious knee injury against Ardagh/Moydow in the semi-final and the county player will be out of action for a long time.
A big attendance in the region of 1,500 converged on Pearse Park to witness the battle for the Gerry Hennessy Cup and while Connolly’s had the better of the exchanges in the first half they were left to rue the kicking of eight wides as compared to just three for Rathcline who held a slender 0-6 to 0-5 advantage at the break.
Connolly’s had started well with a brace of points from frees converted by Dessie Reynolds but only managed to add three more scores to their first half tally through Joe Heaney, Stephen Lynch (free) and wing back John McKenna.
Having said that, they were denied a goal in the 14th minute when opposing netminder David Mulvihill done well to block a point-blank effort from Daire Duggan but Rathcline also went close when Shane Kenny blasted the ball over the bar in the 12th minute.
Kenny had another goal attempt very well saved by Connolly’s keeper Stephen Murtagh in the 20th minute while the other two Rathcline scores in the first half were registered by James Hanley (opening their account in the 6th minute) and Aaron Madden (free).
Connolly’s came out with all guns blazing at the start of the second half and enjoyed a glorious spell that yielded four scores in a row - three (two frees) from midfielder Stephen Lynch who landed a magnificent long range point while Dessie Reynolds burst through to fist the ball over the bar.
So in the space of just six minutes Connolly’s came from being behind at the break to lead by 0-9 to 0-6 and looked the likely winners at this stage but there was a reprieve for Rathcline when Aaron Madden (the captain in the county final) kicked over a well struck point in the 38th minute.
But the picture changed after that as Rathcline recovered to outscore Connolly’s 1-3 to 0-3 from there until the finish, despite squandering a few decent chances, and came out on top mainly because they showed the greater will-to-win in the face of adversity.
Rathcline now advance to meet the Wexford champions at home in the Leinster Intermediate club first round game on Saturday October 21 while there is some consolation for Sean Connolly's who will represent Longford in the Leinster Junior club away to Offaly opponents Erin Rovers (Pullough) in the opening round on Saturday October 7.
RATHCLINE: David Mulvihill; Jack Rooney, Kevin Sorohan, Kevin Chapman; David Rooney, Shane Donohue, Derek Casserly; Shane Kenny (0-4, one from ‘45), Shane Casserly; Iarla O’Sullivan, James Hanley (0-3, one free), Michael Morrissey; Ryan Fallon, Aaron Madden (0-2, one free), Ronan Clyne (1-1).
Subs:- Michael Hanley for J Rooney (36 mins); Oisin O’Sullivan for R Fallon (53 mins); Niall Keane for D Rooney (black card, 58 mins).
SEAN CONNOLLY’S: Stephen Murtagh; Tommy Keogh, Ciaran MacEoin, Michael McGlynn; Greg Masterson, Dessie Reynolds (0-4, three frees), John McKenna (0-1); Stephen Lynch (0-4, three frees), Daire Duggan; Sean Kenny, Andy McNamee, Paddy O’Neill; Frank Reynolds, Paddy McDonnell, Joe Heaney (0-2).
Subs:- Eugene Murtagh for A McNamee (44 mins); Trevor Murtagh (0-1) for P O’Neill (48 mins); Daniel Collumb for S Kenny (50 mins); Brendan Treacy for S Lynch (injured, 57 mins).
Referee: Patrick Maguire (St Mary’s Granard).