Kilmeena 3-9 Ballintubber 1-12
Kilmeena storm to opening day victory
Kilmeena travelled to this opening fixture more in hope than expectation against a fancied Ballintubber outfit, and minus a number of senior players who were ruled out through injury and holidays. However, what unfolded was a display of sheer bloody mindedness that belied the youth and inexperience of the 15 players who togged out on the day.
From the throw in, Kilmeena were immediately under pressure and within three minutes, we were down by a goal and a point. The signs looked ominous, but two Johnny McGlynn frees steadied the ship. Ballintubber stretched the margin out to three again, but then a driving move through the middle ended with John Ryan rounding the keeper and tucking the ball into the net. Incredibly the boys in black and white were one point ahead after another score from Mcglynn at the end of the first quarter. But then Ballintubber stepped on the gas, and in the next quarter they slotted over six points, with the only response being a Johnny McGlynn free at the end of the half
half time Kilmeena 1-4 Ballintubber 1-8
Despite being four points down at the short whistle, the boys knew that this game was there for the taking and on the restart set about dismantling Ballintubbers confidence. A steady start saw another McGlynn free cancelled out by a Ballintubber point, and then the fun and games began. Johnny McGlynn slotted over a fine composed score followed very quickly by a Niall Feehan point, and then a minute later in a move which carved opened up the home defence Ryan McGonagle slotted to the net, and this was quickly followed by an outrageous free from distance from Chris Heanue. In the space of five minutes, Kilmeena had gone from four points down to two points up. There followed a period of Ballintubber pressure where Andrew Grealis in goals pulled off two outstanding saves, and then defying all the odds Kilmeena swept upfield and after excellent work from Keith Joyce, Alex O'Riain found the bottom corner. With ten minutes left, it was now very much a case of the walking wounded having to soldier on in a tough uncompromising battle, and battle on they did. Going into the last five minutes, Ballintubber reduced the margin to three. They were now driving on looking for the equalising goal, but the best they could muster was a point from a placed ball. There was more left in this battling Kilmeena team, and they built again from the back for Bailey Nevin to point from distance at the final whistle.
This was one of those games that goes down as a great one to win, and a bad one to lose. The sheer will to win was evident in a team that had no respect for the reputation of their opponents, and in their leaders they had individuals who were determined to ensure there was only one outcome to the game.
Best for Kilmeena were Niall Feehan, Andrew Grealis, Conor Madden, Chris Heanue
Scorers Johnny McGlynn 0-6(4f), John Ryan 1-0, Ryan McGonagle 1-0, Alex O'Riain 1-0, Niall Feehan 0-1, Chris Heanue 0-1(1f), Bailey Nevin 0-1
Match Report: John Doherty