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Ruschitzko Rescues A Point As Group Remains Wide Open

Brian O'Donoghue
September 2, 2023

Clonmore 1-6

Naomh Eoin 0-9

Most of the time in a drawn game the saying that neither side deserved to lose is adequate to describe the outcome. In this intermediate clash, neither side deserved to win. 

Naomh Eoin were somewhat rudderless and wasteful with the possession they had, they kicked 11 wides, including two kickable frees and dropped balls short on the Clonmore keeper Jordan Kane. 

The Clonmore lads must have been at nothing during the day on Thursday, because they seemed intent on making incredibly hard work for themselves on Thursday night. 

Both sides were very guilty of some very poor hand passing and not holding on to possession in general. Yes, the conditions were very wet and a heavy shower of rain that fell just before throw-in didn’t make things simple. however, leaving a ten metre hand pass five metre short is unacceptable when it comes to intermediate championship level.

If there were three or four things that impressed from the evenings display, it was the tenacious defending of Shane Murphy, or else, it was the general play of Tom Pollard, who covered every blade of grass in Netwatch Cullen Park and was involved in so much of what Clonmore did well, or, was it the timely introduction of Owen Coleman, who made an immediate impact, and whose hard work ultimately lead to the Clonmore goal, or for Naomh Eoin was it the commanding presence of John Michael Nolan in the middle of the field. All contenders for highlights. 

It was unnatural how many times both teams coughed up possession. Unforgivable. Even allowing for slippery conditions, it’s as if keeping the ball for any period of time is just not a priority for either side, rather, it’s a case of, pass the responsibility to anybody else but the man on the ball. 

It was a difficult night too for Patrick Murphy in the middle. Naomh Eoin certainly got the lions share of the decisions in the opening 30 minutes and while the second half was more balanced, a few of the calls were bewildering. Nevertheless, he wasn’t the winning nor losing nor even drawing of the game. 

Clonmore went into a two point lead in the opening five minutes. Good running from Rob Bulmer and hard work from Enda McGrath and Tom Pollard kept pressure on Naomh Eoin and Aaron Kelly kicked the first point of the game after a pass from Pollard. 

A clever pass from Con Murphy to Billy Lawlor doubled the lead but it was short lived as Naomh Eoin hit back with four points from Cathal Tracey, James Smithers and an absolute monster point from John Michael Nolan, who was fed by Martin Clowry and then James Smithers added his own with 21 minutes on the clock. 0-4 to 0-2 Naomh Eoin

Clonmore needed to show a little more leadership and calm heads and they got a glimpse of it from Con Murphy as the half drew to a close. An airmail delivery from Rob Bulmer saw Murphy reach and catch the O’Neills high above the defenders head. The experienced, former county player immediately raised a paw and called the mark before expertly dispatching it between the sticks. 

The advanced mark is a pet peeve for many but in that instant it was a just reward for two good pieces of skill, the pass and the catch. 

Naomh Eoin have some nice footballers. Speaking after the game Adam Kenny pointed out that their preparation ahead of championship was hampered by having all three practice matches cancelled for various reasons. 

Gerard Kavanagh advanced for Naomh Eoin just before the break to nudge the Myshall men back in front and at 5-4 both sides rested. 

It had been a slow start for Naomh Eoin and they kicked four first half wides and brought Jamie Behan in for Tadgh Daly possibly through injury but they ended the half on the up without really taking hold of it. 

Clonmore introduced Owen Coleman at half time for Con Murphy, maybe they have an age limit allowance in the full forward line, who knows? But it reaped some rewards at the end of the game. 

On the restart, Shane McGrath kicked a difficult free wide before Naomh Eoin went short with a ‘45 at the other end and it was converted brilliantly by Diego Dunne. 

Time and time again, throughout the hour, Clonmore would hassle and battle to win back possession, start an attack, only for the man with the ball to run into heavy contact or worse, give a poorly timed pass to teammate and put him in a world of trouble. It was needles hard work, when simple football would have been their friend. 

Naomh Eoin were a bit more careful in possession but they struggled to make it count in front of the posts. Clowry is a serious target man in the full forward line but he was under appreciated by the potential delivery men. 

In the 41st minute Shane McGrath converted a good Clonmore free and from the restart Naomh Eoin eventually sent a long ball from outside the ‘45 into Cathal Tracey and he caught the ball cleanly. He was well inside the ‘45 and was entitled to signal a mark for the catch, and, he was awarded a mark, despite not raising his hand in a similar fashion to Con Murphy in the first half to claim it, much to the outrage of the Clonmore defence. To add insult to injury the mark was converted and Naomh Eoin lead by two. 

In the third quarter Naomh Eoin outscored their opponents 2-1. It was a raw enough 15 minutes but at least there were a few scores to watch. The next ten minutes were bordering on atrocious and a big moment was needed. 

The big moment came with fifteen minutes to play when a Clonmore attack broke down and Naomh Eoin were tasked with clearing the ball. Eoin Coleman and Tom Pollard had other ideas and they boxed in a defender to a position no defender wants to be in, right in the tunnel corner in the county grounds. Possession was coughed up and Coleman fed Pollard who gave a ball across the square to the on rushing David Mulvanny, who couldn’t miss and the sides were level. 

From the next play Clonmore gathered possession through Shane Murphy who claimed a brilliant mark out around the middle, Clonmore attacked, earned a free and Shane McGrath was clinical. Clonmore were ahead for the first time since the 5th minute. 1-6 to 0-7.

The marker had been laid down to the men from Myshall. As the game entered the final ten minutes, and having watched both sides cough up copious amounts of possession, Cathal Tracey converted a free and there was just a point separating the teams. 

Naomh Eoin piled on the pressure as they went in search of the equaliser. They had multiple chances, sometimes foiled by good defending sometimes just taking the wrong option in front of goal. They had a golden opportunity to level it from a free but it blazed wide with a minute to go and it looked like their opponents might hold on. However two deep minutes into injury time a loose ball was seized by Gavin Ruschitzko and he saved the day for Naomh Eoin. 

Naomh Eoin: Andy O’Brien; Patrick Doyle, Martin Doyle, James O’Hara; Gerard Kavanagh(0-1), Michael Kavanagh, Tadgh Daly; John Michael Nolan (0-1) Diego Dunne (0-1), Ciaran Abbey, Adam Kenny(0-1), Gavin Ruschitzko(0-1); James Smithers(0-1), Martin Clowry, Cathal Tracey(0-3). Subs: Philip Smithers for Ciaran Abbey.

Clonmore: Jordan Kane; Rory Maguire, Shane Murphy, Anthony Byrne; Billy Lawlor(0-1), Matt Cullen, Eoin Connolly; David Mulvanny(1-0), Luke Connolly; Rob Bulmer, Shane McGrath(0-2), Enda McGrath; Tom Pollard(0-1), Con Murphy(0-1), Aaron Kelly(0-1) Subs: Owen Coleman for Con Murphy, Cormac Connolly for Aaron Kelly, Oisin Doyle for Billy Lawlor, Con Murphy for Tom Pollard. 

Referee: Patrick Murphy (Fenagh)