Teenager Whelan's opening-half strikes sink Sarsfields men

posted 19 May 2013, 15:26 by Unknown user

Battling Kinvara pull off surprising success in booking place in group stages of county senior championship

 Kinvara 2-13
Sarsfields 1-15

CONNACHT TRIBUNE REPORT by Cian O'Connell at Kenny Park, Sunday 12th May 2013

SINCE losing the 2007 County decider Kinvara have lurched from one disappointing campaign to the next, but there was finally a real sense of hope again for them following Sunday's merited and surprising win at Kenny Park.

This was arguably Kinvara's most impressive and important result since that adventure six years ago as they eked out a victory from an enjoyable match. While the intensity levels didn't scale the expected heights, this was a game that moved along at a nice clip and Kinvara's smashing opening period display meant Sarsfields were always playing second half catch up.

Sarsfields, true to their rich heritage and history, did come within a whisker of forcing a draw, but few would dispute that Kinvara didn't deserve this triumph. Resourceful from the outset, Kinvara coped with Sarsfields' key men and the decision to put Shane Quinn on the previously influential Joseph Cooney moments before the break was decisive.

Cooney had been immense, but when Kinvara switched their personnel it meant that the Galway player wasn't allowed control the contest in the classy and unfussy way he had been. Without Cooney at full tilt, the rest of the Sarsfields attack were contained.

Kerril Wade's frees did keep Sarsfields in contention, but Kinvara were never headed in the closing stages. Their senior status has been preserved for another year and Kinvara go into the group stages in bonus territory with nothing to lose and everything to gain.

An excellent tenth minute goal from Cooney had Sarsfields 1-1 to 0-2 ahead, but Kinvara recovered and were able to play most of the first half deep in enemy territory. Central to this was Tom O'Donovan's four points from distance which had a significant impact on proceedings because he wasn't the only Kinvara forward motoring well.

Conor Kavanagh was providing leadership and an accurate free taking presence inside, while in Conor Whelan, a minor again in 2014, they have unearthed an exciting and opportunistic attacker. In the 17th minute, Whelan drilled a sweet goal to make the Sarsfields net dance and from then on Kinvara were loaded with confidence.

Kinvara were generating momentum as Kavanagh and O'Donovan continued to rifle over scores. Leading by two points a minute before the break, Whelan then gathered a mammoth Ger Mahon clearance and tucked away his second goal following a polished fetch. Aidan Moylan briskly added a point and Kinvara went in 2-9 to 1-6 in front the the turnaround.

Having taken 11 out of 20 scoring chances, including two crucial goals, Kinvara were aware that they would need to be wholehearted when facing into the breeze. That is what they were as Sarsfields slowly, but surely, narrowed the gap.

Kinvara, coming nowhere near their earlier creation figures, only registered one point in 20 minutes from a Kavanagh free as Wage struck six to leave only the narrowest of margins between the teams. Under duress, Kinvara dealt with the Sarsfields revival and Kavanagh landed a vital free.

Niall Quinn brought Sarsfields to within a point again, but a Kavanagh free and a delightful David Huban point manufactured by a slice of Whelan skill sealed the deal. Sarsfields yearned for a goal, but Joseph Burke and Cooney mustered points and they weren't enough. 

A last gasp Darren Skehill shot from distance went wide as Sarsfields hopes and dreams of launching a bid for silverware were terminated. The fact that this Sarsfields crop defeated Portumna early in the summer a year ago will leave them with plenty to ponder because there appears to be more in this panel.

Escaping relegation was hardly their seasonal objective or on the to do list at the start of the spring, but that is the task Sarsfields must embrace now. Cathal Murray, Joseph Burke, Darren Skehill, Cooney and Wade will have significant roles to play for Sarsfields in the coming weeks and months.

Kinvara skip into the group stages encouraged by the manner of this success over highy regarded opponents. Colm Callanan, Tadhg Reynolds, Shane Kavanagh, Shane Quinn, Stevie Moylan, O'Donovan, Whelan and Conor Kavanagh can reflect with the utmost of satisfaction on how they guided Kinvara to a morale boasting result.

Kinvara: Colm Callanan, Tadhg Reynolds, Shane Kavanagh, Aidan Moylan (0-2), Colm Burke, Ger Mahon, Shane Quinn, Stevie Moylan, Mark Kavanagh, David Huban (0-1), Tom O'Donovan (0-3), Niall Bermingham, Conor Whelan (2-0), Conor Kavanagh (0-7, 0-5 frees, 0-2 65s), Alan Leech. Subs: Brian Carroll for M. Kavanagh (60mins).

Sarsfields: Fergal Hynes, Cathal Murray, Diarmuid Murray, Ciaran Dolan, Eamon Cleary, Kevin Hynes, Darren Skehill, Joseph Burke (0-1), Niall Quinn (0-1), Sean Kelly, Joseph Cooney (1-3), Ivan Kenny, Ian Skehill (0-1), Noel Kelly (0-1), Kerril Wade (0-8, 7fs): Subs: N. MOrrissey for Kenny (25mins), E. Cleary for D. Murray (44mins) T. Spellman for S. Kelly (54mins).

Referee: Alan Kelly