For the second week in a row, Eslin recorded a straight forward victory in the GWP Intermediate Championship despite being reduced to 14 men in the opening half and once again it was full-forward Conor Beirne who was instrumental to Eslin’s cause as he finished with a tally of 3-11.
Last Saturday in Ballinamore, it was Aughavas who were unable to deal with the threat posed by Conor and his brother Tomas and it is Eslin who advance to the quarter-finals while Aughavas are left facing the prospect of a relegation semi-final.
Having seen Dermot Reynolds given his marching orders, the Eslin faithful may have been concerned but as had been the case against Drumkeerin the extra man proved to be of little benefit as too much emphasis was put on marking Conor Beirne rather than preventing the ball coming to him.
After a relatively tight first half, Eslin ran riot in the second half and two Conor Beirne goals within a minute all but ended the game as a contest.
Eslin’s second half dominance was in contrast to how the game began with Aughavas taking the game to their opponents with Kieran Moran opening the scoring from a well struck 45 in the opening minute. After both sides saw efforts go wide, Conor Beirne gave the first indication of his attacking abilities as he brushed off the attention of three defenders before pointing.
The free flowing nature of the opening half saw Aughavas respond with frees from Kevin Keegan while Eslin kept in touch with a further Conor Beirne point.
With Kieran Moran and John Conefry more than holding their own in midfield, Aughavas established a two point lead when Kevin Keegan pointed but that was soon cancelled out by a Conor Beirne free and moments later Eslin should came close to taking the lead for the first time when Barry McLoughlin got the better of his marker only to be denied by an excellent save from Enda Turbitt.
The resulting 45 was converted by Ronan Reynolds and a minute later Eslin edged in front courtesy of Tomas Beirne who surged through the middle, shrugging off would be challengers with ease before pointing. With just nine minutes of the first half remaining Aughavas registered their first point from play when Gavin Farrelly applied the finishing touch.
Moments later Aughavas’ chances seemed to be given a major boost when Dermot Reynolds was issued with a yellow card. Not impressed with the referee’s decision Reynolds made his feelings known but the protests went to far for the liking of referee Derek Moran who issued the Eslin man with a red card. To make matters worse for Eslin the resulting free was converted by Kevin Keegan.
Despite the numerical disadvantage it was Eslin who finished the half the stronger with John O’Flynn’s point followed by two Conor Beirne points, one of which was a free, to give Eslin a 0-8 to 0-6 lead at the interval.
Aughavas’ came close to the perfect start when the game restarted. Straight from the throw-in Gavin Farrelly and Sean McKiernan combined to find Kevin Keegan but with the goal in sight, his shot was blasted wide.
That miss proved to be crucial as when Eslin took complete control of the contest.
A magnificent score from Tomas Beirne from all off 45 metres put Eslin three points clear and a minute later his brother Conor struck for the game’s opening goal. His physical strength saw him beat his marker and he then struck with a perfect finish to the bottom corner of the goal.
Less than a minute later Conor Beirne struck for his and Eslin’s second goal. Tomas Beirne launched a dangerous ball towards the Aughavas goal which was plucked from the sky by Conor who turned quickly and dispatched his shot past Gary Shortt.
Aughavas refused to accept that the game was beyond them, and two Kevin Keegan points were followed by Aughavas’ first goal. David Charles searching delivery was knocked down by Gavin Farrelly into the path of Keegan who was on hand for an easy finish. But Aughavas’s momentum was brought to a halt with Conor Beirne converting two frees either side of another excellent Tomas Beirne point.
Two further Beirne points (one free) either side of a Keegan free left eight points between the sides but as the game entered its closing stages the outcome was looking increasingly inevitable.
Aughavas supporters were given reason to find their voice when their side found the Eslin goal for the second time when Peter McBrien won a high ball and quickly played it in to the path of Gavin Farrelly who found the Eslin goal.
Ultimately it was the Eslin supporters who had the last laugh with Conor Beirne finding the Aughavas net for the third time and the same player completed the afternoon’s scoring with a point to bring to an end a fine team performance from Eslin and an outstanding display from Conor Beirne.
Next weekend Eslin face Dromahair in the quarter finals of the Intermediate Championship where Eslin will surely face a tougher challenge. However, the form of the Beirne brothers coupled with fine performances from the likes of Padraic McNulty, John O’Flynn, Ronan Reynolds and Paul Kilcrann in recent games suggests Eslin are a team that deserve to be taken very seriously as the championship begins to get towards the business end.
Enda Turbitt, Ronan Reynolds (0-1), Barry Bohan, Padraic McNulty, Dermot Reynolds, Mark McLoughlin, Cormac Duignan, Tomas Beirne (0-3), John O’Flynn, Tommy McLoughlin, Paul Kilcrann, Barry McLoughlin, Emmet Higgins, Conor Beirne (3-11), David Reynolds. Subs: Peter Reynolds for McLoughlin (25 mins), Paul Reynolds for D. Reynolds (60 mins).
Gary Shortt, Eoin Brennan, Niall Maguire, Enda Shortt, Trevor Farrelly, Derek Maguire, Conor McKiernan, John Conefry, Kieran Moran (0-2), Sean McKiernan, David Charles, Michael Moran, Ray McBrien, Gavin Farrelly (1-1), Kevin Keegan (1-6). Subs: Francis McLoughlin for Conefry (39 mins), Peter McBrien for Moran (50 mins), Dan O’Brien for R McBrien (54 mins), Francis McLoughlin for E. Brennan (56 mins),
Referee: Derek Moran