A confident Knocknagree suggests a productive run is on the cards in the 2021 Bon Secours County Senior A Football Championship after a surprisingly one sided victory over neighbours Kiskeam at Boherbue last Sunday.
Expectations of a close encounter had been anticipated to a contest labelled as Duhallow bragging rights, but on this occasion, the reigning County Premier IFC holders possessed too much power, teamwork and scoring ability.
At the end of the hour, Kiskeam had little complaints, their overall performance levels well down on what many expect from the men in black. That said injuries and suspension decimated the Kiskeam line up with key men such as Seán Meehan and Daniel Fitzgerald heavily strapped, their play restricted and the duo failing to complete the game.
Likewise, Knocknagree were impacted by injuries, regulars such as Danny Cooper, Pádraig Collins and Matthew Dilworth absent from the action. Still Knocknagree possessed fitting replacements, their greater balance highlighted by the spread of scorers, six players registering for the victors with just two for Kiskeam.
A scoreless opening 10 minutes proved nervy, perhaps both sides understandably slow to settle given the hype surrounding the contest. Poor handling and mistakes put a dampener on constructive play and it required Knocknagree 'keeper Pa Doyle to break the deadlock from a converted '45.
That score gave Knocknagree impetus and on 15 minutes, a Kiskeam back pass went astray, the ball picked up by Fintan O'Connor to drill low to the net with county player Eoghan McSweeney tacking on a well struck point for a 1-2 to 0-0 advantage at the water break.
An out of sorts Kiskeam waited to the 21st minute to open their account courtesy of a welcome point by Gene Casey. Still Knocknagree held a dominance, at the back, Andrew Sheehan, Daniel O’Mahony, Michael Doyle and Michael Mahoney presided with authority with David O'Connor availing of assistance from Donough Moynihan in the centre.
And up front, the attacking flair of McSweeney was too hot to handle, two massive points and another by wing back Mahoney swept Knocknagee into a clear 1-5 to 0-1 advantage at the interval.
On the resumption, Knocknagree drew further encouragement from a Fintan O'Connor point, Kiskeam's cause not helped by anchor man Meehan limping out of the action. In fairness to Kiskeam, they sparked a comeback through the promptings of Adrian Carroll, Thomas Casey and substitute Rob Carroll.
That brought about an improvement for a brief spell, Seán O'Sullivan set up Casey for a welcome goal and a follow up point by Gene Casey had halved the arrears to four. However, the prospect of Kiskeam further throwing down the gauntlet was nipped in the bud by Knocknagree who failed to be impacted by the sin binning of Gearóid Looney.
Going forward, Knocknagree made the most of their opportunities with James Dennehy and O'Connor followed by another pair from distance put light between the sides, Knocknagee 1-10 to 1-3 to the fore at the second water break.
As the tempo dropped only one result was on the cards, Knocknagree continued to hold the edge, points from Mahoney, David and Fintan O'Connor outscored a couple of consolation points from Thomas Casey with a David O'Connor goal ruled out for an infringement,
Another stepping stone for Knocknagree on their maiden journey at Senior A ranks, a remarkable run of success began with the 2017 County Munster and All Ireland JAFC followed by Intermediate and Premier Intermediate glory much to the satisfaction of manager John Fintan Daly.
“We have lost only two of our last 25 games, there is momentum, belief, and ambition in a very small parish. Momentum means a lot, you get into a winning habit and you believe you can achieve anything,” he said.
“We wanted to make a statement that we could stay in senior, hopefully we can build on this. Kiskeam weren't at their best but they are capable of turning matters around, its so important that local rivalries are maintained, that builds up public interest and excitement,” he concluded.
For both Duhallow sides, city opponents provide the next action, Knocknagree taking on Bishopstown with Kiskeam pitted against St. Michaels.
KNOCKNAGREE: P Doyle 0-1'45; A Sheehan, D O’Mahony, G O’Connor; M Doyle, K Buckley, M Mahoney 0-2; David O’Connor 0-1, D Moynihan; J Dennehy 0-1, E McSweeney 0-5, F O’Connor 1-3 (0-2f); Denis O’Connor, J F Daly, G Looney
KISKEAM: A Casey; J Daly, AJ O’Connor, J O’Connor; K O’Connor, S Meehan, M Casey; T Dennehy, A Carroll; M Herlihy, G Casey 0-2, C Murphy; D Fitzgerald, S O'Sullivan, T Casey 1-3 Subs: R Carroll for M Herlihy (ht); D Linehan for S Meehan (36, inj); A Dennehy for D Fitzgerald (39 inj).
REFEREE: C Lane (Banteer/Lyre)