Stradbally had their chance to spring something of an upset here as they looked more than capable of turning over an in-form Arles-Kilcruise side in the sides’ Division 1 clash on Saturday afternoon, but the visiting Kilcruise men recovered from a very poor first half to chalk up what turned out to be a relatively straightforward victory.
Shorn of ten of the fifteen that comprised their championship side from last year, Stradbally’s current side had an experimental look to it but to be fair to the new faces they applied themselves admirably in the opening period and should have been ahead by more than their single point advantage that they had at the break. Kilcruise were out of sorts and with the home side enjoying the benefit of the breeze in that opening half hour they chalked up a series of well-worked scores to build up that lead.
Kilcruise did look the better side in the first few minutes and led early on with Kevin Meaney and two from David Conway edging them out in front. Stradbally got back on terms with scores from their entire half forward line of John Donoghue, Greg Ramsbottom and Gary Comerford and midway through the half they hit a further three on the bounce to open up some breathing space from the disjointed Kilcruise men.
The men in maroon allowed indiscipline and dissent to hamper their chances, with three first half frees being moved forward by referee Eamon Strong for backchat, and Strad took full advantage with conversions from Ramsbottom and two from Comerford punishing the ill-advised Kilcruise debates with the Emo official.
Two late points from David Conway and Frances Egan cut the lead from three to one before the half-time whistle and those scores would prove to be crucial as the visitors came out in the second half in flying form and Stradbally’s chances of recording a much needed win were dashed in no uncertain terms.
A long-range Colm Munnelly free with the wind aiding it on its way levelled the scores two minutes after the restart and three more on the trot via Munnelly and two fine efforts from Brendan Conway left Stradbally three points down before they had even got going. Greg Ramsbottom disrupted Kilcruise’s monopoly on the second half scoring with a well-taken point but that proved to be the only one that they would record in the half and Kilcruise eased to victory with relative ease.
Another Colm Munnelly point marked a fine performance from the busy centre-back, and with the hosts spurning a number of easy frees it was all plain sailing for the Arles men. Karl McDonald, David Conway and sub James Conway all increased the Kilcruise lead. With five minutes remaining they led by six and the game petered out from there without any further inroads on the scoreboard.
SCORERS - Arles-Kilcruise: David Conway 0-4 (one free), Colm Munnelly 0-3 (one free), Karl McDonald and Brendan Conway 0-2 each, Kevin Meaney, Frances Egan and James Conway 0-1 each; Stradbally: Gary Comerford (three frees) and Greg Ramsbottom (one free) 0-3 each, John Donohue and Cormac Delaney 0-1 each.
STRADBALLY: Robbie Moore; Richard Carolan, Paul Begley, Jeff Kennedy; Alan Mulhall, Podge Langton, Jamie Kavanagh; Wayne Comerford, Ger Byrne; John Donohue, Greg Ramsbottom, Gary Comerford; Damian Fitzpatrick, Colm Kelly, Cormac Delaney. Subs: Jody Dillon for Kelly (17 mins), Michael Skelly for W. Comerford (40 mins).
ARLES-KILCRUISE: Jimmy McDonald; Michael O’Shea, Podge Conway, Anthony McElroy; JP Conway, Colm Munnelly, Jason McLoughlin; Kevin Meaney, Rory Stynes; Frances Egan, David Conway, Karl McDonald; John Michael McDonald, Brendan Conway, Eoin Stynes. Subs: James Conway for JM McDonald (46 mins), Dermot Nolan for Egan (55 mins).
Referee: Eamon Strong (Emo)