Brilliant Byrne lifts Coolkenno
A SUPERB scoring performance from Cormac Byrne helped Coolkenno to hold on for a precious win against Aughrim in the Junior C championship in Arklow last Sunday evening.
This was a real battle from start to finish and the tension, the drama, and the relief at the end was proof, if there was any needed, of what the game meant to both teams.
On a very serious note this was also a game that had the potential to flare up into an ugly brawl and at one stage an incident involving an Aughrim and Coolkenno player resulted in a large group of players and spectators converging near the sideline with a lot of pushing and shoving taking place but, thankfully, nobody lost the cool.
Amazingly, neither player received a card of any colour following the incident where it looked from the bank that the Aughrim player had dived in the most ridiculous fashion in a bid to get the Coolkenno player, who had just been booked from another incident, sent off, while the Coolkenno had appeared to strike the player on the ground at least three times.
At this point both teams were becoming very irate towards referee Gerry Corbett who didn't seem to be fully in control but the moment passed and both sides got back down to football.
Aughrim's Frank Byrne bagged the game's first score after 60 seconds after a quick free from Bobby Newsome and this was replied too by the very impressive Mark Farrell at full-forward for Collkenno two minutes later after a good move up the field.
It would be Farrell's only score but his work to win ball and battle for his team was obvious throughout the entire game.
Padraig O'Connell returned a strong looking Aughrim team to the front with a nice point before Cormac Byrne bagged the first point of his mighty scoring tally after he took a quick 45 to John Gregan who returned the pass and Byrne did the rest.
Aughrim seemed to take control of proceedings then for a brief period. Midfielder Willie Kavanagh fired wide but his partner in the middle, Peter Quigley, would make no such mistake and he fired over a sweet score before the hard-working Bobby Newsome added a free to make it 0-04 to 0-02 in favour of Aughrim after 20 minutes.
But Coolkenno were not fading in the slightest and one move showed exactly what they could do when they wanted to as Owen Byrne linked up with Billy Lucas who found John Gregan and he did the honours.
Cormac Byrne's first goal came soon after when he pounced on a parried ball by Aughrim goalkeeper, Paddy Gannon. Aughrim recovered well with two good points but Byrne struck again at the death of half-time when his speculative shot wasn't dealth with by either corner-back Paddy Byrne nor Gannon and it dropped harmlessly into the Aughrim net.
Things started to turn a little nasty not long after the break as both sides traded point for point. The Aughrim men were becoming increasingly frustrated at referee Gerry Corbett but once that potentially dangerous situation had calmed down Cormac Byrne rattled home his hat-trick to really sicken the Aughrim team.
But credit to them they battled back. Eugene O'Brien took over the frees and he popped over a few, Bobby Newsome added three points but Coolkenno always seemed able to break up the field and reply with one of their own and as a torrential downpour lashed down on the pitch in Arklow Aughrim came looking for at least a draw.
Half-back John Keenan added one close to the end and then Aughrim won a free and they handed the ball to Eugene O'Brien whose wicked shot was saved at the near post and the ball spilled to John Keenan who pulled the trigger but his shot blazed over the bar giving Coolkenno a two-point victory of the sweetest kind.
Scorers - Coolkenno: Cormac Byrne 3-3, Karl Timmins 0-1, Chris Bowes 0-2, John Gregan 0-1 and Mark Farrell 0-1.
Aughrim: Eugene O'Brien 0-04 (3f); Bobby Newsome 0-04; John Keenan 0-02; Willie Kavanagh 0-01; Peter Quigley 0-01; Padraig O'Connell 0-01; Frank Byrne 0-01; David Dunne 0-01.