Much of the talk aboutthis year’s Connacht Gold Senior Championship title has focused around Glencar/Manorhamilton’s bid for a five in a row and Melvin Gaels’ quest for a senior title at their first year back that grade. However, Mohill are another team that any team with serious aspirations of glory will be keeping a close eye over the coming weeks.
While it is difficult to fully assess their title credentials on the back of last Saturday’s victory over Carrigallen, the seven point victory margin does not flatter Mohill and had they found the kind of intensity they will be hoping for in the coming weeks, that margin could have been significantly more.
It was a tough evening’s work for a Carrigallen side who have been hit as hard as anyone with the loss of players in recent times and ultimately it was too much for the Carrigallen players to match a Mohill side who have been impressive this year in division 1 while Carrigallen are in danger of relegation from the same division.
At both ends of the pitch, Mohill were very strong - the full-back line of Paul Bannon, Michael McGuinness and Daniel Beck all had fine games while midfielders Shane Quinn & Stephen Conaty had too much for their opposite numbers and when it came to scoring, there are numerous players on the Mohill team as well as several more on the bench who know exactly where the posts are.
As is often the case with the opening round of the championship, neither side was fully up to speed in the opening stages and the only noteworthy moment in the opening 10 minutes was Alan McLoughlin’s point that opened the scoring. Mohill doubled their lead through Gavin Kelly after clever build up play involving Ronan Kennedy and Alan McLoughlin.
Carrigallen made life difficult for Mohill, hassling and harrying wherever they could and ensuring no easy chances were presented to the Mohill forwards. The Carrigallen players, although aware they were severely weakened, certainly did not just turn to accept the inevitable.
Andrew McManus’ point midway through the half left just a point between the sides and with 10 minutes of the half remaining, there was still just a point to separate the sides after Stephen Flynn & Sean McCabe (free) exchanged points.
The low scoreline was reflective of a tight and scrappy encounter with as many players booked as there were scores during the opening 25 minutes. John McGuinness, Ciaran Kennedy and Daniel Beck were yellow carded for Mohill while Barry Reilly and JP McManus were cautioned for Carrigallen.
In the closing minutes of the half Mohill gave an indication of their attacking abilities as Ronan Kennedy’s free was quickly followed by a Gavin Kelly point and just before half time Ronan Kennedy’s goal chance went agonisingly wide.
A three point lead (05 to 0-2) at the break may not have been comprehensive but there had plenty of signs that Mohill would continue to cause the Carrigallen defence plenty of headaches.
Mohill began the second half with the same conviction they ended the first and points from John McGuinness and Ronan Kennedy extended Mohill’s lead. In fact the lead could have been greater but Carrigallen goalkeeper Enda Lyons made a great save to deny Alan McLoughlin.
There was some comfort for Mohill to be taken as the ball was then played back to Johnny Mulligan who pointed and a minute later Stephen Flynn pointed to put seven between the sides. Even though the second half was just four minutes old the game already seemed over as a contest.
The lead was extended after Alan McLoughlin’s accurate shot flew between the uprights. The one sided nature of the second half saw Carrigallen struggle for large parts to trouble the Mohill defence but points from Benny O’Rourke (free) and Andrew McManus issued a reminder that Carrigallen were not prepared to lie down without a fight.
But any hopes of a Carrigallen comeback were quickly dismissed as Mohill, as they did throughout the match, upped the intensity exactly when it was needed and registered three points in the space of two minutes through Ciaran Kennedy, Stephen Conaty and Colm Beirne.
Carrigallen made the scoreline look slightly more respectable with points from McManus & O’Rourke (2).
Undoubtedly there will be tougher tests ahead for Mohill but they will be pleased with their opening days work while Carrigallen will be hoping the fighting qualities they demonstrated in the opening half will be enough to prevent them from being dragged into a relegation dogfight.
Alan Armstrong, Paul Bannon, Michael McGuinness, Daniel Beck, Johnny Mulligan (0-1), Paul Earley, Ciaran Kennedy (0-1), Shane Quinn, Stephen Conaty (0-1), Ronan Kennedy (0-2), Donal Flynn, Stephen Flynn (0-2), Alan McLoughlin (0-2), Gavin Kelly (0-2), John McGuinness (0-2). Subs: Colm Beirne (0-1) for R. Kennedy (44 mins), Shane Canning for Flynn (44 mins), Padraig Tighe & Barry Lupton for J. McGuinness & Kelly (52 mins), Eanna Madden for Beck (59 mins).
Enda Lyons, JP McManus, Francis O’Rourke, Karl Ward, Barry Dolan, Derek Reilly, Barry Reilly, Clifford Richardson, Gary Reilly, Sean McCabe (0-1), Eamon Dolan, Conor Doonan, Andrew McManus (0-3), Thiernan O’Rourke, Padraig Doyle. Subs: Eamonn O’Malley for McCabe (HT), Benny O’Rourke (0-3) for G. Reilly (42 mins), Darren Reilly for Doyle (34 mins), Aaron Beirne & Gerald Percival for Doonan & E. Dolan (52 mins).
Referee: Noel Flynn.