Friday 18 January 2019

Kiskeam fall short against a dominant St Nicks

County SFC Round 1: St Nicks 3-11 Kiskeam 1-14

Pictured before their first round game were Adam Lynch, St. Nicks and Donal Linehan, Kiskeam. Photo by Jim Coughlan
Pictured before their first round game were Adam Lynch, St. Nicks and Donal Linehan, Kiskeam. Photo by Jim Coughlan

John Tarrant, Mallow GAA Complex

At the end of the hour, a dominant St. Nicks were made to sweat by a below par Kiskeam in the opening round to the County SFC in Mallow on Sunday.

The Duhallow side had the margin pared back to only two points and came in search of a retrieve . However, their hopes faded as a clearly more determined St Nicks launched a counter attack for Liam Coughlan shoot the insurance point.

In truth, the honours went where they belonged , outsiders St. Nicks made a bold statement, raising their game to levels where Kiskeam failed to reach. Time and again, St. Nicks had been forced in relegation battles to maintain their status, their best run came three seasons ago, recovering from defeats in Rounds 1 and 2 to better Clonakilty and Dohenys only to enjoy two wins and ultimately be ousted by Nemo Rangers in a quarter-final.

Kiskeam entered the fare as firm favourites to succeed only to produce a flat performance and apart from a late intervention, they laboured in most departments with little reward. Indeed, Kiskeam will need a big improvement to maintain an interest in the championship where Mallow will provide the opposition in Round 2.

Apart from an early exchange of points, Kiskeam were always chasing the game, St Nicks called the shots and evident in the fifth minute from a goal netted by Glen Kennefick.

The city side held sway in general play only for Kiskeam rise to the challenge mainly through good possession won by Michael Herlihy and effective full-forward Seán O'Sullivan obliging with a pair of back to back points.

However, the Nicks regained control, owing to the play of Dave Dunlea, Adam O'Donovan and Adam Lynch establishing control in defence, Dean Brosnan and Robert Downey held sway at midfield, well supported by David Busteed.

Significantly the inside line created problems for Kiskeam, that full forward division amassed all of St Nicks scoring tally. Their prospects were enhanced in the 23rd minute, Coughlan's 45 was broken into the path of David Dooling to rifle a rasper to the net before the accurate Coughlan followed up to point from both play and frees to extend St. Nicks position to forge ahead 2-6 to 0-5 at the break.

The expectations of a major Kiskeam assault failed to gain traction on the restart, though O'Sullivan pointed, again St. Nicks held the bite between their teeth, Coughlan and Kennefick bisected the uprights, the latter score surfaced from an acute angle.

That contrasted to an out of sorts Kiskeam, not always prolific when it came to chances, St. Nicks 'keeper Eddie Fuller averting the possibility of a few dangerous situations.

And at the opposite end, St. Nicks were all the time tightening their grip on the contest, their efforts again rewarded in the 43rd min, Kennefick netting a surperb goal that pushed his side into a commanding 3-8 to 0-8 position.

It appeared Kiskeam were left with an impossible hill to climb yet for all their shortcomings, they were never going down without a brave fight thanks to the encouraging efforts of Seán Meehan in addition to the capabilities of Herlihy and O'Sullivan on finding the target.

Chipping away at the deficit, the margin was down to six points, Kiskeam attempted to drag themselves further into contention and at the end of regulation time, a tug on the jersey of Gene Casey won a penalty that O'Sullivan tucked away the resultant spot kick to the corner of the net. That gave Kiskeam a lifeline and now coming forward in waves, a pointed free from O'Sullivan had the margin down to two,

Time remained for another assault or two, St Nicks had retreated in numbers only to compose themselves in a counter attack to break at pace and the highly influencial Coughlan was on the end of a move to punch over the insurance point.

There in laid the prime difference between the sides, St. Nicks desire, better teamwork and an ability to utilise possession more efficiently swung the outcome in favour of victors who can safely look ahead to round 3 later in the season.

ST. NICKS: E Fuller; D Dunlea, K McCarthy Coade, A Hosford; A O'Donovan, T Spain, A Lynch; D Brosnan, R Downey; R McCarthy Coade, S Kennefick, D Busteed; G Kennefick 2-2, D Dooling 1-0, L Coughlan 0-9 (0-6f) Subs: C Horgan (52), J Morrissey for O'Donovan (52)

KISKEAM: A Casey; D Casey, D Lenihan, K O'Connor; T O'Sullivan, J Dennehy, M Casey; A Carroll, T Dennehy; A J O'Connor, M Herlihy 0-3, S Meehan; D Scannell, S O'Sullivan 1-11 (1-0p, 0-3f), G Casey Subs: S Linehan for D Linehan (43), M Casey for T O'Sullivan (45), D Fitzgerald for T Dennehy (48)

Referee: P O'Driscoll (Bride Rovers).