SEPTEMBER 5, 2020: Cill na Martra 7-11 Knocknagree 0-13
OF the 100-plus football championship games played across the four grades in 2020 this produced one of the stand-out score lines.
It wasn’t that Cill na Marta wrapped up their section in the Bon Secours Premier Intermediate with a 100% record more the fact that they scored seven goals.
Most observers expected this to be a tight game with the pressure on Knocknagree, the former All-Ireland junior champions, who were walking a tight-rope in terms of progressing from the group if results went against them.
They came into the game on three points, two clear of Naomh Aban, who would have expected to take care of business against the group’s bottom club St Vincent’s.
Sure, the popular thinking was that even if Knocknagree suffered a defeat and the Ballyvourney club won they’d still advance on scoring difference.
The head-to-head wouldn’t have counted because that ended level at 0-14 apiece, but what unfolded in Mourneabbey and Cloughduv graphically illustrated the unpredictability of sport.
Cill na Martra secured their spot in the semi-final by scoring three goals in a wind-assisted opening half and four more on the resumption for an unexpected 19-point rout.
The Gaeltacht club stunned their opponents with the power, pace and quality of their play right from the moment Chris Maher pointed inside 25 seconds.
They regularly made inroads on goalkeeper Patrick Doyle with mesmerising inter-play, featuring quick distribution of the leather to better-placed colleagues and their finishing was from the top drawer.
Doyle stopped Damien Harrington’s initial effort with a brilliant save, but his defence couldn’t complete the clearance, allowing Harrington goal after only two minutes.
A minute later Cill na Martra were in again after Cork defender Tadhg Corkery dispossessed his county colleague, Eoghan McSweeney, and Harrington pounced for his second goal.
John Fintan Daly was denied by Cill na Martra keeper Anthony O’Connell before they struck a third time after only 11 minutes with a super individual goal from midfielder Gerry Golden.
It was 3-6 to 0-3 at the first water-break and while Fintan O’Connor pointed three frees for Knocknagree, they still trailed by 3-9 to 0-7 at the break.
And any slight hopes of mounting a major revival died within 70 seconds of the resumption, when Ciaran Dineen grabbed the fourth goal after Noel O’Leary made a spectacular catch at the other end.
Just before the second water-break Cill na Martra scored goal number five, the magnificent Dan Dineen obliging for 5-11 to 0-8.
There was no respite for the Duhallow club as Ciaran Dineen walking in the sixth goal before captain Shane Dineen completed the rout.
Scorers for Cill na Martra: C O Duinnin 2-2, D O hUrdail 2-1, D O Duinnin 1-4, S O Duinnin 1-3, G O Goillidhe 1-0, C O Meachair 0-1.
Knocknagree: F O’Connor 0-5 f, JF Daly 0-3, E McSweeney, M Doyle, P O’Connor 0-1 each, P Doyle 0-1 45, D O’Connor 0-1 f.
CILL NA MARTRA: A Ó Conaill; D MacLochlainn, G Ó Mocháin, E Ó Loingsigh; D Ó Conaill, T Ó Corcora, N Ó Laoire; G Ó Goillidhe, S Ó Foirréidh; C Ó Duinnín, M Ó Deasúna, C Ó Meachair; D Ó hUrdail, D Ó Duinnín, S Ó Duinnín, captain.
Subs: J O Ceilleachair for O hUrdail 46, O hUrdail for O Mochain injured 58
KNOCKNAGREE: P Doyle; G O’Connor, D O’Mahony, M Doyle; D Cooper, K Buckley, M Mahony; David O’Connor, D Moynihan; G Looney, E McSweeney, F O’Connor; Denis O’Connor, JF Daly, M Dilworth.
Subs: J Dennehy for Looney, half-time, P O’Connor for David O’Connor, 37, K Daly for Moynihan 47, A Sheehan for G O’Connor 50
Referee: C Egan (St Nick’s).
Dramatically, Knocknagree’s scoring difference plummeted deep into the red, minus 13, which made the outcome in Cloughduv all the more relevant now.
And when news filtered through of a St Vincent’s victory by a point, Knocknagree’s season had been saved by the city club’s stunning upset.
Manager John Fintan Daly adopted a philosophical approach in the aftermath of a crazy hour’s play.
“Did we deserve the chance to go again? It doesn’t really matter because that’s how it went. We did get three points from six and it was enough to get us through,” he said.
“Cill na Martra are a tremendous team and are where we would like to be going. Clearly, though, we have a lot to learn and a bit of work to do.
“However, we haven’t lost faith in the group and we’re not making any apology to anyone.
“This is a work in progress. We always knew it was. We’ll just go to the next game.”
Knocknagree learned a valuable lesson because they didn’t concede a goal in the one-point quarter-final and semi-final victories over Nemo Rangers’ second string and neighbours Newmarket respectively.
Now, they await Kanturk, one-point winners over Cill na Martra, in the final, maybe in March.