Byrne leads Knockananna with a superb defensive performance
KNOCKANANNA'S Paddy Byrne was the star of the show in this Junior A football championship game against Barndarrig in Aughrim on Sunday morning.
Byrne was given the very difficult task of man-marking Michael Murphy and he managed to fulfil that task for the most part while also scoring and distributing ball from the half-back line and breaking up Barndarrig attacks with bravery and honesty.
Barndarrig will be very disappointed with their performance, especially in the second half, but the winners will also be extremely disappointed with the woeful shooting from their forwards in the second period.
Overall this was a poor game of football but one that Knockananna will be delighted to win after their bad start to the championship.
The attacking centre-half back, Johnny Waldron, from Barndarrig, got the scoring underway with a fine point after four minutes and added a second a moment later after a fine unchecked run from his own half-back line.
His marker, Johnny Wybrant, blazed wide soon after from the outside of his right boot but then Michael Murphy managed to lose the company of Paddy Byrne for a few seconds to bomb over Barndarrig's third score after eight minutes as Knockananna were really struggling to engage.
But when a team needs someone to step up it's harder to find a better candidate for the job than Paddy Byrne who ghosted up the field and bombed over from distance.
Full-forward Kevin Tyrell then watched as the space opened up in front of him but he opted to pass to Padraig Lancaster and the ball spilled out for a harmless wide.
Lancaster had been deployed from the start as a third midfielder but after their dreadful start, Knockananna returned him to the full-forward line and it was after this that Knockananna started to enjoy a more fruitful afternoon.
Michael Murphy struck back for Barndarrig with a fine effort and then Johnny Wybrant replied for Knockananna to leave the score at 0-04 to 0-02 in favour of Barndarrig.
Knockananna's Ronan Byrne then pulled Knockananna to within one with a great score having jinked on to his left boot and great work by Tristan Maher out the field set up Kevin Tyrell for the equalising score as Knockananna started to get on top.
Half-back John Foley fired wide before a super ball from Alan Humphries allowed Johnny Wybrant to fire over the lead score.
A Michael Murphy free dropped short to John Farrell and the ball was worked up the field where Paudge Lancaster popped over the ball to push Knockananna out to a two-point lead.
And another point from Ronan Byrne saw Knockananna retire at half-time leading by three despite the bad start.
From the restart Barndarrig switched full-back Kevin Dempsey with midfielder Hughie Doyle and points from Michael Murphy from a free and corner-forward Enda Dempsey pulled them back to within one until Darren Flynn replied for Knockananna after a superb catch from Ronan Byrne who had been drafted out the field from his corner-forward position.
A Kevin Tyrell free was followed by a Kevin Tyrell goal thanks to great work by Johnny Wybrant and that was pretty much that in terms of the game as a contest.
From here on in Knockananna conspired to kick a plethora of awful wides before Kevin Tyrell finally turned on the style with two sweet scores to close out the game after a Michael Murphy free kick for Barndarrig.
A good win for Knockananna but their shooting needs emergency treatment as soon as possible. One major positive for the Reds was the performance of goalkeeper John Farrell who pulled off two superb saves, one in each half, with the first one being really exceptional. A shot for goal from Barndarrig saw Farrell dive full length across the goal and he caught the ball and cleared.