Castletown triumph in a game of two halves
Castletown won the quintessential game of two halves against Fethard in the quarter-finals of the Tom Doyle Supplies Senior Football Championship at Bellefield on Saturday afternoon last.
Castletown 2-12 Fethard 1-9
The Gorey district side were excellent in the first half, built an impressive lead against the breeze and showed all the hallmarks of realistic contenders for the title. In the second half they did not look good at all.
Intensity is a big thing at this time of year. Who can maintain it, or even increase it, when it's needed. Castletown are operating in fits and starts at the moment and there has to be big question marks over whether they have a sixty minute performance in them.
A little of that comes from having a handful of 'experienced' members in the team. Yet it's more down to the evidence. All season they have been mixing splendid football with tired, disjointed sludge. That said, it's proved successful six straight times.
Fethard didn't really have the confidence to take advantage of any weakness their opponents might have shown. They didn't exactly waltz to this stage, stuttering through with wins against strugglers Adamstown and Sarsfields.
In recent weeks they had played some indifferent football and that continued in the first half. They did open the scoring when John Tubritt kicked a close-range point in the opening minute but Andy Merrigan quickly cancelled out that score.
Richie Waters knocked over his first free of the day from a couple of yards short of the '45 to make it 0-2 to 0-1. However, against the breeze, Castletown dealt a crushing blow when Donnacha Holmes played a one-two with Jody O'Shaughnessy and shot to the net off the foot of the post.
After Mikie Dwyer popped over a free, the county minor was involved again, this time linking up with Ruairi Tubrid. He sent Adam Swan away through the middle but Niall Hempsenstall did brilliantly to smother the corner-forwards low strike.
That proved even more costly when, just three minutes later, James Holmes linked-up with brother Donnacha on the right, again he fed and went with O'Shaughnessy before forcing his shot home at the second attempt.
Leading 2-1 to 0-3, things were going swimmingly for Castletown. Points from Donnacha Holmes and Stephen Moloney increased the lead to six before Tubritt and Conor Carty traded frees. It left Fethard up against it heading into the second half, trailing 2-4 to 0-4.
Right from the throw-in it was evident that the flow of the game had been altered by the interval. Castletown were flat, playing like their work had pretty much been done. Fethard suddenly found their rhythm and put some good moves together.
Six points still separated the sides until Richie Waters and Mikie Dwyer combined on the right, fed the ball across goal to where Ruairi Tubrid was lurking to punch to the rigging.
Dwyer wasted little time in kicking a super point to leave two in it (2-5 to 1-6).
Ross Bealin responded at the other end as Castletown took a three point lead into the final quarter. Twice Waters kicked frees to close the margin to two but those scores were a real struggle to manufacture.
One advantage Castletown have on other sides is that, even if they are not firing on all cylinders, they can make it difficult for their opponents to prosper. That's what they managed to do before Anthony Masterson added two points in three minutes to ease the tension.
Dwyer put three between the sides again, two minutes into added-time but in the final eight minutes of football Castletown kept them at arm's length. The victors kicked the last three points with Yusuf Frih, Pierce Maxwell and Brendan Halpin all on target to round out the win.
Both sides also had players 'on target' in a flashpoint deep into added-time, referee Billy Dodd handed out a couple of yellow cards but a few players will be happy enough if the video of that particular incident 'disappears' before it gets distributed.
CASTLETOWN: Niall Hempenstall; Joe Aherne, Danny Gardiner (capt), Joe Gardiner; Colin Kennedy, Noel Morris, Colm Morris; Richard Farrell (0-1), Jody O'Shaughnessy; Andy Merrigan (0-1), Brendan Halpin (0-2), Stephen Moloney (0-1 '45); Donnacha Holmes (2-1), Conor Carty (0-1 free), James Holmes. Subs. - David Deering for J. Gardiner (27), Ross Bealin (0-1) for Merrigan (38), Pierce Maxwell (0-1) for Merrigan (40), Anthony Masterson (0-2) for Moloney (54), Yusif Frih (0-1) for J. Holmes (60), Risteard Kinsella for Aherne, inj (60+9).
FETHARD: William Doyle; Martin Power, Graham O'Grady, Sean Donohoe; Mark Wallace (0-1), Joe Sutton, Christopher Molloy; Michael Roche, Garrett Foley; Kevin Rowe, Ruairi Tubrid (1-0), Richard Waters (0-3 frees); Adam Swan, John Tubritt (0-2), Mikie Dwyer (0-3, 1 free). Subs. - Martin Doyle for Roche (31), Ricky Rowe for Sutton (46).
REFEREE: Billy Dodd (Sarsfields).