Murphy hits over 15 points as Coolera see off Coolaney
Coolaney/Mullinabreena 1-10 Coolera/Strandhill 1-17
Niall Murphy was the hero for Coolera/Strandhill as his 15 point tally saw them overcome Coolaney/Mullinabreen by seven points.
Bunninaden was the venue or this showdown between the two beaten semi finalists from last years iteration of the Belfry Senior Football Championship, as Coolera/Strandhill looked to bounce back from an opening weekend defeat to Carly/St. Joseph's against a Coolaney/Mullinabreena team hoping to open their account with a win.
It was the south Sligo team that started the brighter, with brothers Gavin and Barry Gorman each scoring two points to open the scoring for the day.
Coolera/Strandhill responded through a pair of free kicks from one Niall Murphy, whose eye for the posts would become the dominant theme running throughout the game.
The start went from good to great for Coolaney/Mullinabreena, and the Gorman family in particular, as midfielder Sean Gorman found cousin Barry inside on the square, who smartly finished past Coolera keeper Keelan Harte into the empty net.
Followed by yet another Gorman effort, this time from Gavin, going over the bar, the score was 1.05 to 0-02, and the boys in blue were well in the driver seat.
Coolera/Strandhill were nit about to lie down however, and in a display of place kicking that would put Johnny Wilkinson to shame, Murphy eliminated the deficit completely, with the scores level going into the dressing room at halftime,1-05 to 0-08.
The second half was a story of red and white, as Murphy's white-hot form was not to be diminished by the 15 minute cool off period, nor the swirling breeze around Buninadden as 2 more scores put Coolera/Strandhill in the ascendancy.
Though Mullinabreena did reduce the margin to one through full forward Darren Coleman, they were very much hanging onto the coattails of Coolera/Strandhill, though they were not helped when full back David Barrett was sent off for a second bookable offence, the stern words of both referee Barry Judge and his compatriot Niall Murphy ringing in his ears as he went to the dug out.
With a another score from Coolera/Strandhill, whose scorer should hold little intrigue, pushed the score to 1.08 to 0-11 points, where the gap stayed for some time, as tempers frayed on both sides of the fence, best exemplified when Coolera's/Strandhill's 27 year old full forward Barry 'O' Mahony was dismissed by the referee.
Coolaney/Mullinabreena seemed to be struggling to deal with the admittedly capricious conditions, as they struggled to work the ball outside of their own 45, though the introduction of Kevin 'O' Kennedy did remedy that somewhat.
Perhaps the bigger factor in their endeavours was the excellent fielding on behalf of Coolera/Strandhill, whose wing forwards and backs worked seamlessly to devour the breaking ball, so often broken by midfielders Kevin Banks and Barry Doyle, a man whose seen many a Championship Sunday, or Saturday in this case.
Yet one man's performance stood tall among the rest, as Niall Murphy showed exactly why he's has represented Ireland in Australian Rules series, and why Paul Taylor entrusted him with the captaincy of the Senior inter county side.
Form his fleeted footed movement to his thumping finishes, Coolera/Strand hill's No.15 was everywhere, and his impact in truly reflected in the mammoth 15 points he put on the scoreboard.
Through all this Coolaney/Mullinabreena were game in their efforts, but one feels as if they were caught cold coming out of the changing room, maybe a result of a first week bye in the group stages.
Any hope of a comeback was snuffed out when centre forward Keelan Cawley scord a goal past Ryan McAuley in the Coolaney/Mullinabreena net, but in truth the game was over long before that, as when Barry Judge blew the final whistle, the score was Coolaney/Mullinabreena 1-10 to Coolera/Strandhill1.17
Ryan McAuley, Stephan Barrett, David Barrett, Eamonn Gorman (subbed Kevin O'Kennedy), Shane Gormalley, Cian 'O' Dowd, Conor McCormack (subbed Anthony Walsh), Sean Gorman, Declan McCormack, Niall Connolly, Nathan Mullen, Stephan Connolly (subbed Raymond Connolly), Gavin Gorman 0-04, Darren Coleman 0-01f ( subbed Shane O Brien 0-01f), Barry Gorman 1-04,3f.
Keelan Harte, Enda Mitchell, Gary Cawley, Mark Comerford, Sean Murphy, Conor McDonagh, Eoin Comerford, Barry Doyle, Kevin Banks (0-1), Colm Parke (subbed for David McGee), Keelan Cawley 1-0, Peter Laffey(subbed Karol 'O' Neill 0-01), Barry O'Mahony, Ciaran Prior, Niall Murphy 0-15.