Any game that produces 38 scores, that is nip-and-tuck throughout, that produces two individual scoring masterclasses, and that is only won in the final period of extra-time, has a lot to recommend it. That’s what Kildress and Stewartstown delivered today in very difficult conditions in a perfectly set up Plunkett Park, Pomeroy, with The Tones finally prevailing by 0-24 to 3-11 in this LCC GROUP Intermediate Championship First Round tie.
The scoring masterclasses came from Matty McGuigan (who rattled up a huge 0-14, including one outrageous sideline ball from the 13m line) and Gareth Devlin who shook Kildress to the roots with 2-6, 2-4 of it bagged from play in the first half alone.
The game was almost score-about for the opening 20 minutes but then wonderful points from distance by Enda McAleer, Matty McGuigan and Caolan McNamee put Kildress 0-8 to 0-5 ahead. That seemed like a signal for Gareth Devlin and he buried two quick shots to the Kildress net, the second created by his own so-crafty dummy/side-step. His brilliance put his side 2-5 to 0-10 ahead at the break, despite having played into the strong wind.
The Harps got the first score of the second-half but up stepped McGuigan in turn to fire over six of Kildress’ next eight points. Meanwhile Stewartstown had grabbed another goal and point to leave the result still in the balance. Kildress tried hard to see the game out with possession football but Stewartstown wouldn’t give up and who else but Gareth Devlin drove over a difficult 40 metre free to level things up right at the death.
The first half of extra time was ‘point about’, leaving things all-square at 3-11 to 0-20 at the break. And whilst the final ten minutes saw little between them in terms of play and effort, Kildress, with Adam Connolly prominent, scored the four points that eventually saw off a Harps team that had given everything, including playing a man short for 20 minutes because of two black cards.
The Kildress defence overall was sound, with Jonny Connolly and Callum Holland driving forward well once the threat of Gareth Devlin was come to terms with after half-time. The McAleer brothers were very important to their team and whilst Matty McGuigan’s 14 points speak for themselves, and for him, Kildress were also sound all round up front. This was without doubt a team victory.
Brian McCallion’s outstanding refereeing was a central part of what was just an epic afternoon’s entertainment.
Kildress: | Gerard Grimes | Aaron Loughran, Dean McNally, Tiernan McNamee | Jonny Connolly, Callum Holland (0-1), Marty Loughran | Conor Quinn, Enda McAleer (0-1) | Stephen Loughran (0-2), Marty Grimes (0-2), Shea Quinn | Matty McGuigan (0-14), Caolan McNamee, Conor McAleer | Shea Loughran, Adam Connolly (0-2), Eoin Brannigan, Stephen McGurk
Kildress Ladies too had a good Championship victory today, overcoming The Rock by 6-11 to 2-2 on a wintry evening at Gortacladdy. The Tones led by 5-6 to no score at the break and whilst it might have seemed like it was ‘game over’, The Rock rallied well in the second half, and actually drew it on the score-board.
Kildress now move on to meet Clonoe.
Gary Gormley was an excellent referee.