Athenry 2-14 Pearses 1-13: Two first half goals in this game, played in Duggan Park, were key to giving Athenry a nine-point lead going into the half-time break. With six minutes gone in the second-half the lead was out to eleven points and it wasn’t looking good for Pearses. Six points in-a-row reduced the gap to five with two minutes of normal time to play.
A goal at any stage in that Pearses revival would have made for a very interesting finish. However, Cian Burke, who had been excellent for Athenry throughout the game, tagged on a couple of pointed frees for Athenry. There was one late surge on the Athenry goal, when influential substitute Oisin Flannery bore down on goal, but he was taken out by Athenry keeper John Grealish. Referee Christy Brown had no hesitation in issuing a red card to the Athenry man. Emmet Ward buried the resulting penalty past replacement keeper Patrick Rabbitte, but time had run out to rescue a result.
Pearses lead briefly early on from an Emmet Ward free. The first Athenry goal arrived after just four minutes to put them in front. Eoin Caulfield reacted quickest when the ball came back off the post. Athenry were more clinical with their chances as the game progressed. Pearses were guilty of missed scoring opportunities.
After 24 minutes Athenry, led by Cian Burke, were ahead 1-5 to 0-4. Then two big scores arrived in the space of a minute for Athenry. An inspirational long range point from centre-back Conor Burke and a second goal, finished to the town-end net by Noel Keogh, making it 2-6 to 0-4. Athenry added three more points to Pearses’ two before the half-time whistle.
Emmet Ward opened the second half scoring but Athenry reeled off the next three points to make it 2-12 to 0-7. What followed was Pearses’ best spell of the game as they hit six points in-a-row, Ward with four of these, while Cyril Donnellan and Enda Cunniffe added their names to the scoresheet, 2-12 to 0-13. Two Cian Burke frees stemmed the Pearses tide before Emmet Ward’s late penalty.
The championship now enters its customary summer break with Round 3 to take place in the Autumn. Games against Beagh, Craughwell and Oranmore-Maree await for Pearses and it will be all to play for to see who will progress to the knockout stages.
Pearses: F Flannery; D Wynne, T Kenny, R Lally; K Donnellan, C Donnellan (0-1), E Cunniffe (0-1); C Fahey, R O’Neill; S Hardiman, E Ward (1-9), C Ward; G Lally, J Gelston (0-1), D Reilly (0-1). Subs used: O Flannery, R Flannery.
Athenry scorers: Cian Burke (0-10), N Keogh (1-0), E Caulfield (1-0), R Hardiman (0-1), Conor Burke (0-1), C Lawless (0-1). Referee: Christy Browne.