The opening weekend of the senior football championship threw up a few welcome new plotlines

The opening weekend of the senior football championship threw up a few welcome new plotlines
Kiskeam's Tomás Dennehy gets away from Mallow's Pa Herlihy. Picture: Gavin Browne

CHECKLIST for the opening weekend of senior football championship.

Nemo being Nemo and ruthlessly hammering some misfortunes who weren’t quite at that level yet.

The county champs moving onto another level.

A few desperate beatings that has everyone asking for re-grading, which at least is coming.

And yet there were stories, old and new.

1. Ok, so Castlehaven didn’t have Brian Hurley or Michael Hurley starting and they’ve a new management team bedding in anyway and they were down to 14 men for a long part of the game and it’s only early April.

But still, it was the story of the first weekend and still the sort of game and win that means a lot to a club like Fermoy, beating one of the elite football clubs in their first game up senior (I remember Ilen Rovers doing something similar and saying it felt like they’d properly arrived).

It was interesting especially to see Fermoy’s approach to the whole thing, where their manager mentioned their reaction to the draw when it was made as one of proper excitement to be facing the challenge (funnily enough, Mick Hennessy namechecked Castlehaven way back when they won the premier intermediate as one of the clubs they wanted to measure themselves against) and openly stated their ambitions of making some kind of impact at senior level, at not being happy to make up numbers or spend a few years settling in and how they more expected to put themselves in positions to win games rather than hoped.

You could see it in the flow of the game, where Fermoy made the running from early on, in how they reacted to being pegged back and then won the game again with Martin Brennan’s point.

It was there in the matter of factness about the win as well. Kieran Morrison scored Fermoy’s first goal in championship football since the 60s and isn’t inclined to get carried away but it’s hardly been an overnight success either, built upon years of winning games through grades and slowly making each step up.

Morrison referenced minor and U21 teams that played and competed with (and lost to) Castlehaven over the years as the bulk of the current Fermoy group and mentions the strength and conditioning work done first by Tomas Shinnick and now by Paul Howard as vital for their ability to compete physically, the one difference he notes to senior football.

Otherwise, Fermoy prepared for the game as any other, will switch to hurling for the next few weeks and carry on like all dual clubs.

Mark Collins, Castlehaven, battles Shane Aherne, Fermoy. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Mark Collins, Castlehaven, battles Shane Aherne, Fermoy. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

2. At one point in the first half in Dunmanway last Saturday evening where there was a sense that Clon were struggling a little to properly take control of the game against Newcestown, they spent a good chunk of one play handpassing back and across the pitch and it was difficult to tell if they were being patient and probing for openings or lacked responsibility to take a shot on.

Midfielder, Timmy Anglin stood in the pocket at one stage outside the Newcestown 45, handpassed the ball onto the next guy and maybe fifteen seconds later, after the ball passed quickly and cleverly through the hands of David Lowney, Thomas Clancy and Gearoid Barry, there was Timmy Anglin again at the end of the move, a perfectly-timed glide into the spaces from nowhere really to finish the move to the net.

It was the standout move of the game.

Clonakilty's Timmy Anglin celebrates his goal against Newcestown. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Clonakilty's Timmy Anglin celebrates his goal against Newcestown. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Ask Anglin and he’ll say he spotted the space opening as the Clon players were handpassing and the Newcestown defence shifted out to press and there was something of the statement about the goal, a reminder that Clon were capable of opening that running game when necessary to punch holes.

It was also one of those glimpses into the mix of what can go into a score put together by a club team, a young team of legs and running (Sean White scored the other goal with one of those runs where he looks capable of destroying teams) combining with a guy who’s been around a lot longer.

It’s 10 years now since Anglin crept into a similar space in a county final with the Barrs to score Clon’s only goal that day.

It’s 16 summers since he scored his first senior championship goal v Youghal.

For one moment it didn’t seem that long ago.

3. In Glantane, there was something different happening as well.

Mallow and Kiskeam met for the second year in a row and the game was streamed on the Examiner Youtube channel with commentary and analysis and it seemed the most natural idea in the world to be able to watch a local championship game on your computer on a weekend that even the most nerdy of GAA heads wouldn’t get around the county grounds.

Eoin Stanton wins the ball midair against Kiskeam. Picture: Gavin Browne
Eoin Stanton wins the ball midair against Kiskeam. Picture: Gavin Browne

Kiskeam didn’t know until after the game (they thought the cameras were Mallow’s video analysis) so there weren’t any Friday night lights kind of nerves.

They did pick up the win though with some decent scoring, some decent performances and a positive result at last after a dodgy season last time out.

Their second goal wasn’t exactly a work of art (the goalscorer himself says it wasn’t quite Owen Mulligan) but there was something in the cleverness in the way it was put together.

A Kiskeam player was fouled around the forty-five and you could see Adrian Carroll sprinting to the ball for the quick free, looking twice quickly in the direction of the corner-forward position, pointing into the space and then planting a lovely pass over the Mallow corner-back for the Kiskeam number 15 to palm pass the onrushing goalie.

Michael Herlihy, the goalscorer, explained that he made a run out to open the space and then back in behind as he knew that Carroll would have a go at making that pass if it was on — he gambled and Kiskeam won.

Kiskeam needed that win, had targeted and been motivated for the win by losing to Mallow in last year’s championshiop, worked up some form with good wins in Division One of the league (even though Herlihy admits some of the teams playing without Cork players make games difficult to assess, they’re still wins over top clubs) and approached the year fresh with a new manager in charge and a new start for everyone.

They move on with positive vibes.

The idea of streaming local championship action gets a thumbs up – ok there were patches of play that won’t be making highlights reels for quality, some of the shooting especially – and feels like a decent addition.

The championship moves on as always.

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