By Eamon Kelly
Brendan’s 2-11, Parnell’s 1-9
St. Brendan’s ambition to recapture the Central division senior football title they last held in 2000 got off to a winning start last Sunday at Gaelic Park with an unimpressive victory over Parnells. For 40 minutes of this mediocre game played in ideal weather conditions it looked as if Parnells were going to create a second consecutive shock result following their three-point win over North American Board champions Wolfe Tones in the opening game the previous Sunday. It took positional changes and superb goalkeeping by Gordon Gallagher in the final quarter for Brendan’s to pull off this unflattering victory. The switching of Kerryman Killean Burns to fullback to mark Parnell’s top forward, Phillip Smyth (Cavan), and later the movement of Laoisman Paul Delaney from corner to full forward paid dividends.
In addition, a much improved second half performance by Kildare star Nial Buckley, whose kicking and passing were poor in the opening 30 minutes, contributed to their success.
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Parnell’s, a much improved team from last year, are well positioned to challenge Chicago’s two top teams for the divisional championship.
Despite sharing the spoils with St. Brendan’s (1-2 to 0-5) Parnells were by far the most impressive side in the first half, with Smyth providing the highlights, registering all of his teams scores. A superb goal by Smyth in the opening minute was a tremendous tonic for the underdogs. Even though Parnell’s dominated proceedings for the remainder of the first quarter, the Brendan’s managed to tie the game with points from Shane Brodrick and Martin Delaney. After Smyth put his side in front again with a delightful long-range point, Delaney decided to guide a penalty kick over rather than under the bar to tie the game at halftime.
Parnell’s continued to dominate in the early stages of the second half, forging in front by two points with scores from Smyth and Neil Gallagher. With Burns containing Smyth to a certain extent and Buckley gaining ground at centerfield, the Brendan’s took control and went in front with a fine goal by Buckley. Parnell’s generated a tremendous rally in the final moments that should have resulted in at least two goals but for the heroics of the St. Brendan’s goalkeeper. With just two points between the sides and as many minutes to go, Delaney converted a penalty kick under rather than over the bar.
Erin’s Own 2-16, Boland’s 3-9
Current Central Division senior hurling champions Erin’s Own maintained their undefeated record with an impressive 4-point win over Harry Boland’s in a lively game at Gaelic Park last Sunday. The champions gave every indication that they have the talent and determination to retain the title with this victory. The Bolands were expected to provide a much stiffer challenge to following their easy win over a weak Limerick team the previous week, but their overall performance last Sunday was a big disappointment.
Such was the control Erin’s Own had over their opponents in the opening half they conceded only one point from play while the majority of their scores (2-7) came from play. Much credit for this victory must go to a solid half-back trio of Danny Scanlon, Gerry McNeill and Alan Coffee, who continuously cut off ball supply to the Boland’s inside forwards. To their credit, Harry Boland’s, who were trailing by nine points at the beginning of the final quarter, generated a gallant late rally that resulted in the scoring of two goals against what could be best described as a complacent opponent.
Erin’s Own dominated the early stages of the game and let 2-3 to 0-1 by the end of the first quarter with their three top forwards, Paul Mulcahy (1-1), Owen O’Donovan (1-1) and David Burke (0-1) providing the scores. After Kevin Horan registered Harry Boland’s first point, a soft goal from a 70 by Paul Hoyne narrowed the gap to five points.Points by Burke, Mulcahy and Tadhg Slevin enhanced Erin’s Own lead until Liam Hogan pointed a free just before half time to leave the interval score Erin’s Own 2-7, Harry Boland’s 1-2.
While the Bolands were first to strike on the turnover with a nice point by Lennie Higgins, Erin’s Own responded with similar scores from Burke, McNeill, Mulcahy and Slevin. Both teams exchange points in a slow paced fourth quarter until Harry Bolands late rally which resulted in excellent goals from Paul and Liam Hogan but too late to have any impact on the results.