Bagenalstown Gaels 2-10
A well organised and more street wise Bagenalstown Gaels produced a controlled performance when needed to see off neighbours Fenagh in this 2023 Senior Football Championship opener at Netwatch Cullen Park on Friday night.
They were well tested however and despite trailing by 1-8 to 0-4 at half time, Fenagh led by the mercurial Sean Murphy found themselves back within three points on the 40 minute mark with four on the bounce.
However this is where the game took a turn.
Fenagh Captain Jamie Wall did his utmost to prevent a Robbie Kane effort. In doing so the ball hit Wall's leg. Was it a foot block? Hard to say. It looked a genuine attempt to tackle the ball but you could see how it could be given at the same time. (Fence takes a wobble with me sitting on it!)
Nevertheless Danny Doyle stepped up and dispatched the penalty with aplomb and he was magnificent in this game with all three of his points from play as good as each other.
Three minutes later Jack McCullagh came up and kicked a fine score and entering the final quarter it meant Bagenalstown were 2-9 to 0-8 ahead.
Sean Murphy was fouled for at least 3 if not more of Fenagh's converted frees while adding two of his own and was the leading light for Fenagh with his surging runs. Although some felt he was perhaps a bit lucky to go unpunished after a big collision with Paddy McDonnell in the 15th minute.
But aside from struggling with Murphy's runs like any team would, Bagenasltown played this game on their terms. They sat Sean Wall and Shane Clarke either side of Jack McCullagh and Fenagh really couldn't make any other inroads if Murphy wasn't in possession.
The Town had a great link man in Robbie Kane and he too was fouled many times for frees that were converted, while his distribution was key also.
As far as Senior Championship debuts go for defenders, Liam McDonnell's has to be up there with the best. The chap is only 17/18, he kicked two points, made great runs which he always finished out even if he didn't receive possession and showed fantastic maturity beyond his years.
Indeed McDonnell finished off a fantastic team score for The Town in the 48th minute which was an example to any team on how to move the ball.
It wasn't all straight forward for the Town when Oisin Dillion completed the full house of cards in the 54th minute with his yellow adding to an earlier black which meant the inevitable.
It's worth noting that Fenagh's period of dominance after half time came during Dillon's sabbatical on the line and that's not being disingenuous to Dillon or Fenagh, it's just outlining the capitalisation during that period of time.
In the end all Fenagh could must up after this was a fine Luke Bradley point as Bagenalstown ran out worthy 6 point winners by 2-10 to 0-10.
We often talk about low scores in Carlow Football Championship games and maybe sometimes do ourselves a disservice when it comes to final tallies.
The Final score in the Kildare Senior Football Championship last night - Joe Murphy's Naas 2-10, Sarsfields 0-10!
Bagenalstown Gaels: Ciaran Cunningham; Tom Maher, Alan Corcoran, Liam McDonnell (0-2); Ross O'Neill, Jack McCullagh (0-1), Darren Crooks; Paddy McDonnell (0-2,1f), Kealan Guidera; Oisin Dillon, Robbie Kane (0-1), Danny Doyle (1-3, 1-0pen); Sean Wall, Cian Doyle (1-1,1f), Shane Clarke.
Subs: Jason Wall for Maher (13insm inj), Thomas McDonnell for C Doyle (55mins inj).
Fenagh: Jack Rowan; Eoin Kavanagh, Tommy Bric, Jamie Wall; Luke Bradley (0-1), Keagan Bradley, Sean Cummins; Sean Murphy (0-2), Padraig Hynes; Cormac Murphy, Jamie McCabe, Darragh Byrne; Cormac Lomax (0-1), Sean Smithers (0-2f), Michael Murphy (0-4)
Subs: Conor Treacy for C Murphy (58 mins)
Referee: James Foley (Kilbride)