Connellan’s class act

Ruby Oil Senior Football Championship Kilmore 0-12 St. Faithleach’s 0-6 If a game can change in the blink of an eye, then three weeks is obviously a long time in football. Riding high on the crest on a wave after an impressive win over Castlerea St. Kevin’s in the opening round, St. Faithleach’s were brought back down to earth with a bang at Kilmore on last Sunday evening last – and boy did the fall hurt.   Last year’s county finalists were comprehensively beaten by last season’s Intermediate champions in a result which has announced Kilmore’s re-emergence as a force to be reckoned with in the senior ranks in club football in the county – and one that will make everybody sit up and take notice of a team very much on the up.  It is certainly an achievement of note for the Kilmore men. Having regained their status in the top flight last year they have now beaten one of many people’s dark horses for this year’s Championship, and quite convincingly too might I add.  It was the home side’s impressive second half performance which handed Kilmore this deserved win. In the final quarter, they totally out-played, outclassed and most importantly out-scored the opponents to secure a remarkable win for the North Roscommon team.   It was not all plain sailing for Kilmore throughout the game though. An evenly-contested first half saw only one point separate the sides at the interval with St. Fiathleach’s holding their own in the opening thirty minutes.   Indeed it wasn’t until Derek Connellan began pulling the strings for Kilmore midway through the second half that you got an inkling it was going to be the home side’s day. The Inter-county star turned on the style at this point in the contest and inspired his team-mates to greater efforts. He also scored five points overall in the game – three of them being crucial frees in the second period to rubber-stamp this outstanding win.   St. Faithleach’s, on the other hand, will be disappointed with their performance over the sixty minutes. A return of six points over the course of the games is hardly championship contention form and they will now hope that Kilmore will draw or even beat Castlerea next week to ensure their safe passage through to the quarter-finals.   Admittedly they were still very much in this game at half-time. They gave as much as they got in the first half and indeed made an encouraging start with Gary Cox finding the target twice in the opening minutes – once from play after only ten seconds and the other a converted free five minutes in.   The Kilmore response came through the Connellan brothers. Firstly Gary opened his side’s account for the day and then Derek levelled proceedings on the quarter-hour.   Exchanges were tough at this stage in the contest as both teams dared not to concede any ground to each other. There was very little between the teams at this stage and points from Darragh Hussey, Tom Ryan and Aidan Dooney were cancelled out by scores from Derek Connellan and Pat Caslin (2) which tied up the contest with half-time approaching.   It was full-forward Caslin who had the last say in the opening period with a point to edge the home side in front as his goal-bound shot somehow rebounded off St. Faithleach’s goalkeeper Derek Thompson and went over the bar.    St. Faithleach’s recorded the first score of the second half through a Gary Cox free in the 40 th minute – remarkably it was to be their last score in the game as Kilmore assumed control of proceedings.   Derek Connellan kicked a free in the 12 th minute of the second period and the same player converted yet again five minutes later as the home side dominated throughout.  At this stage their backs were well on top and were putting their team on the front foot time and time again. They lorded midfield and secured vital possession for their forwards where Derek Connellan was at his best.   Don Connellan added two further points for the Kilmore side, one from play and the other a ’45 as the St. Faithleach’s challenge faded without as much as a whimper.   To make matters worse for the Ballyleague side, they had Enda Kenny dismissed in the 61 st minute for a foul which was born out of pure frustration.   It was fitting that the best player on display over the course of the game got the final score in the contest. A Derek Connellan free deep into injury-time brought proceedings to a close and capped a memorable win for the Kilmore side.   It’s a win which completely opens up the group and if Castlerea manage to beat Kilmore in their next outing, then it certainly makes things very interesting. Kilmore will be confident it will not boil down to this and who can blame them – if they produce another performance of this magnitude next week in O’Rourke Park they will most certainly be in contention. Sunday will tell the tale.  St. Faithleachs: Derek Thompson; D. Murray, A. McCormack, Diarmuid Thompson; A. Murtagh, R. Cox, S. Ormsby; S. O’Grady, M. Reynolds; T. Ryan (0-1), G. Cox (0-3, one free), H. Kenny; A. Dooney (0-1), E. Kenny, D. Hussey (0-1). Subs used: P. Wallace, G. Conneer, P. Mahon, P. Cox. Kilmore: Alan Glancy; L. Caslin, D. Carroll, Emet Glancy; C. Garvey, S. Sharkey, D. Foley; Don Connellan (0-2, one ’45), Gary Connellan (0-1); D. Dorr, J. McEvoy, Derek Connellan (0-5, four frees); P. Garvey, P. Caslin (0-4, one free), R. Caslin. Subs  used: A. Reynolds. Referee: V. Hardiman.