David Conway holds possession for Arles-Kilcruise against Stradbally on Wednesday night. Pic: Alf Harvey.
The 2018 Championship got off to a flying start in O’Moore Park on Wednesday evening as Arles-Kilcruise pipped Stradbally in the fourth minute of injury-time to edge a one-point victory in a dramatic conclusion.
Stradbally opened the scoring in O’Moore Park on Wednesday evening with just over a minute played when they patiently probed the Arles-Kilcruise defence before Colm Kelly swung over the first score of the 2018 Championship.
Arles-Kilcruise set themselves underway a minute later when David Conway chased down the terrace flank before splitting the posts, paving the way for Kilcruise to fire a brace through Ross Munnelly and a Chris Conway free, before Munnelly latched onto David Conway’s pin-point pass over the top of the Stradbally defence from fifty metres out to net the first goal of the day.
Stradbally stemmed the Kilcruise tide with Colm Kelly pulling a point back only for Munnelly to nail a free from the forty-five. However, Stradbally were rewarded with a fortunate goal moments later when Darragh Mulhall latched onto Kelly’s dropped shot and rolled the ball into the net to bring it back to a two point game with twelves minutes elapsed.
Jody Dillon’s pace was becoming an issue for the Kilcruise defence as he raced through to fire two points in as many minutes, but David Conway and Munnelly were on hand to keep their lead at two before Conway turned on a sixpence to clip over and push their lead to three with twenty-one minutes played.
Stradbally closed out their account for the half with Kelly landing a booming score before Colm Begley and Jack Deegan combined to see the latter bring them within a point with four minutes left in the half.
Lar Wall’s men finished strong with Caomhan Brennan landing an audacious score and Munnelly sending over his fourth point of the half to see them lead by three at the break on a scoreline of 1-9 to 1-6.
Arles-Kilcruise claimed the opening score after the restart, a green flag, when Chris Conway worked the ball into Munnelly who let fly from the deck on the edge of the square - and Kevin Meaney got the final fist to steer into the Stradbally net for their second goal.
Darragh Mulhall pulled one back for Stradbally, but Kilcruise would score the next two through a Chris Conway free and Stephen Miller’s fisted effort as they went seven up ten minutes into the half.
Colm Kelly and Chris Conway exchanged points before Stradbally fired three without reply from Dillon (2) and Langton to close the deficit with just over ten minutes left to play.
David Conway again finished a darting run with a composed point, but Stradbally went straight back on the attack and landed big scores from Kelly and Conor Delaney - and then with five minutes to go and three points between the sides, Darragh Mulhall was dragged down in the box and Eddie Kinsella pointed to the penalty spot.
Jody Dillon sent Colm Munnelly the wrong way from the spot kick and suddenly it was all square in O’Moore Park.
Kilcruise edged in front with a close-range Chris Conway free two minutes from time, but a minute later Colm Kelly somehow got his shot away to level the sides on the sixty-minute mark.
Stradbally almost got their noses in front when Colm Begley’s effort following a sizzling run tailed off to the right in the third minute of additional time - but there was still time for Fran Egan to feed Kevin Meaney who fisted over to seal a narrow victory for the Kilcruise men.
Scorers: Ross Munnelly 1-4 (0-1 free), Kevin Meaney 1-1, David Conway and Chris Conway (0-3 frees) 0-4 each, Caomhan Brennan and Stephen Miller 0-1 each.
Team: Colm Munnelly; Cialann Mulhall, Ciaran Lawlor, Padge Conway; JP Conway, Mikey Wall, Mark Wall; Kevin Meaney, Stephen Miller; PJ Lawlor, David Conway, Fran Egan; Chris Conway, Caomhan Brennan, Ross Munnelly. Subs: Anthony McElroy for P Conway (BC, 44 mins), Dermot Nolan for JP Conway (Inj, 61 mins)
Scorers: Jody Dillon 1-4 (1-0 penalty), Colm Kelly 0-6 (0-1 free), Darragh Mulhall 1-1, Jack Deegan, Jack Langton and Conor Delaney 0-1 each.
Team: Wayne Comerford; Colin Beale, Liam Knowles, Jamie Kavanagh; Justin Lalor, Conor Delaney, Damien Murphy; Colm Begley, Darren Maher; Jack Deegan, Tom Shiel, Jody Dillon; Podge Fitzpatrick, Darragh Mulhall, Colm Kelly. Subs: Greg Ramsbottom for Maher (Inj, 6 mins), Jack Langton for Ramsbottom (41 mins), Joe Lacey for Beale (50 mins).
REFEREE: Eddie Kinsella (Courtwood)