Mullagh 2-11 Pádraig Pearses 0-15
Report by Ivan Smyth, Connacht Tribune
Injury time points from Ronan Glennon and Finian Coone helped Mullagh secure an invalu- able opening round triumph at Duggan Park on Friday evening.
Mullagh appeared to be in trouble when they saw their four point lead eradicated entering addi- tional time. Glennon’s quick-fire 1- 2 had given them their biggest advantage of the game, but two Emmet Ward frees coupled with Ronan Bellew and Oisín Flannery points saw Pádraig Pearses level the contest after 59 minutes.
Davy Glennon failed to register a score with Mark Hennelly doing a fine man marking job, but the Westmeath player did manage to earn Mullagh a free entering the third minute of injury time. Despite arguments over where the free should be struck from, Ronan Glennon managed to stay composed and fire over the placed ball from 40m out with the Mullagh captain only inches in from the sideline.
Mullagh entered the contest without the services of the now retired Cathal Dervan and after being dragged in to a relegation dogfight last year, they knew the importance of an opening round win.
In a nervy opening half, Pearses created the first goal chance when Dean Reilly cut inside Mullagh’s Cathal Kennedy but the former Galway minor fired his effort wide of the mark. This miss may have been due to Kennedy throwing his hurl at Reilly, with the Mullagh defender receiving a yellow card and conceding a close range free in the process.
Mullagh shot seven first half wides compared to Pearses’ two as they looked set to be behind at the break due to their inaccuracies. After the sides were level at four points apiece, the Ballymacward-Gurteen side took control with two Reilly points and a Ronan Bellew effort helping them lead by three.
Keith Coen’s point reduced the gap before Mullagh hit the front Ronan Glennon fed Shane Connaughton who cut through the Pearses defence before offloading to Sean Callanan, and he struck a fierce effort past Fearghal Flannery. This helped Mullagh lead 1- 5 to 0-7 at half time.
Pearses looked the sharper side in the third quarter with Ronan Bellew, Colm Raftery, Dean Reilly and Tomás Flannery all firing over to help them lead 0-12 to 1-7. Once more, Mullagh found a response when needed most and unsurprisingly it was Ronan Glennon who came up trumps. He pointed two frees while he also plundered the decisive second goal as he flicked Sean Hardiman’s long delivery to the net.
This helped Mullagh lead 2-9 to 0-11 but Anthony Kenny’s side weren’t going down without a fight as two Ward frees, a Tomás Flannery point and an inspira- tional Oisín Flannery score lev- elled the contest heading into injury time.
The momentum appeared to be with Pearses but when Davy Glennon was fouled, his brother Ronan stepped up to fire over the free. Finian Coone then pointed to seal a valuable win for a Mullagh side who showed admirable grit to grind out this result.
For the winners, Ronan Glennon brought his Galway form back to his club while Johnny Rafferty cleared a mountain of ball in defence. Sean Hardiman’s influence at centre back grew as the game progressed while Keith Coen was sharp up front. Al- though below his best, Davy Glennon produced some important moments in the final quarter.
Pádraig Pearses produced a valiant effort with Emmet Ward, Mark Hennelly, Oisín Flannery, Ronan Bellew and Dean Reilly their best on show.
Mullagh: P. Hardiman; N. Coen, J. Rafferty, C. Kennedy; O. Coen, S. Hardiman, S. O’Brien; R. Glennon (1-7, 0-7 frees), P. Kennedy; S. Connaughton, D. Monaghan (0-1), F. Coone (0-1); K. Coen (0-2), S. Callanan (1-0), D. Glennon. Subs: D. Finnerty for S. Callanan (46 mins).
Pádraig Pearses: F. Flannery; M. Hennelly, T. Kenny, R. Carr; J. Barrett, O. Flannery (0-1), T. McDonagh; E. Cunniffe, C. Raftery (0-1); G. Lally, R. Bellew (0-3), E. Ward (0-6, 0-4 frees); L. Mitchell, T. Flannery (0-1), D. Reilly (0-3). Subs: D. Fahey for L. Mitchell (50 mins), J. Gelston for G. Lally (55 mins).
Referee: N. Quinn.