*Aidan McCarthy breaks through a Miltown wall of Cormac Murray, Conor Cleary and Euan Reidy. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill.
It was only the first round but one wouldn’t have known it by the intensity and tension that enveloped the air in Cusack Park on Saturday evening as neighbours St Joseph’s Miltown and Kilmurry Ibrickane played out a thrilling draw.
St Josephs Miltown 2-07
Kilmurry Ibrickane 2-07
Venue: Cusack Park
In what was their fourth derby championship clash inside two years, it started like a steam engine but finished like a bullet train as the sides shared four goals in a thoroughly seesaw second period.
Just as in last year’s opener, Kilmurry Ibrickane appeared to have gotten their match-ups right and would become more dominant as the first half developed, with Ciaran Morrissey shadowing Eoin Cleary’s every move to frustrate the county captain.
However, that narrative would be completely altered only two minutes into the new half when Cleary broke free of Kilmurry Ibrickane’s shackles to tee up Oisin Looney for the opening goal at 1-2 to 0-4. It proved to be the catalyst for a much open tie as Daryn Callinan and Seanie Malone traded penalties before Daniel Walsh scrambled home a Kilmurry Ibrickane equalising goal at the death to ensure a splitting of the opening spoils.
Indeed, while both sides could point to various incidents and opportunities, when the dust settles, a draw will be viewed by both as the fairest outcome in the Group of Death that sees the holders take on Ennistymon next weekend while St Josephs Miltown lock horns with last year’s finalists Cratloe.
They certainly warmed up with this war of attrition that should have seen Miltown grab an early goal but Brian Curtin would be bottled up in the third minute before Darragh McDonagh struck agonisingly wide in the next passage of play.
A relieved Kilmurry Ibrickane hit back but found their own radar on the blink too as a plethora of early wides was only finally broken in the 14th minute when full-back Darren Hickey showed his forwards the way with a rousing opening point. Buoyed by that score, the defending champions did have the ball in the back of the Miltown net in the next passage of play when debutant substitute Jason McCarthy centred for Keelan Sexton to flick to the net. However, it was controversially adjudged to have been a square ball as Kilmurry Ibrickane had to be content with their 0-1 to 0-0 lead by the water break.
Brian Curtin would revert to his normal sweeper position for the second quarter but an out-of-sorts Miltown still found it difficult to find any flow despite a levelling free from Eoin Cleary in the 23rd minute.
The ‘Bricks would only grow in stature however as they kicked three of the last four points, two from Sexton to hold a 0-4 to 0-2 advantage by the interval.
An unforced error around the centre would cost Kilmurry Ibrickane dearly on the restart as Miltown took full advantage when Eoin Cleary outpaced the holders’ last line by cutting in from the right corner and passing across the square for Oisin Looney to flick beyond Sexton at 1-2 to 0-4.
Unfortunately, Looney had to be withdrawn as a result of an ankle injury sustained in scoring the goal.
Keelan Sexton responded with the next two points, only for Kieran Malone to do likewise at the other end as Miltown edged 1-4 to 0-6 in front entering the final quarter.
There were further goal chances for Callinan (wide) and Miltown substitute Cian Mahony whose effort was excellently saved by goalkeeper Sexton before another derby twist arrived as the match entered the final ten minutes, It stemmed from a Miltown kick-out that was intercepted by Andrew Shannon and offloaded to Sexton who was brought down for a penalty. Up stepped Daryn Callinan to blast home and give Kilmurry Ibrickane a 1-6 to 1-4 cushion by the 50th minute.
Within three minutes, experienced duo Darragh McDonagh and Eoin Cleary had reeled in their neighbours for the fourth deadlock of the evening before the roles were reversed late on.
This time, it was Kilmurry Ibrickane that inched ahead with a Keelan Sexton point, only to be floored by a penalty as full-back Seanie Malone finished past goalkeeper Sexton to give Miltown a 2-6 to 1-7 lead by the 58th minute.
An excellent three man counter-attacked move to unleash Cormac Murray for an injury-time point appeared to be the insurance score. However, there would be one final dramatic act after a high delivery from Darren Hickey was flicked on by Callinan to cause consternation on the Miltown line before Daniel Walsh appeared to bundle the ball over the line for a remarkable reprieve.
It was the first but may not be the last derby championship meeting of 2021 but for now at least, both sides will be relieved to have gotten this anxious opening test out of the way.
Scorers for St Joseph’s Miltown: Oisin Looney, Seanie Malone (Pen) (1-0 each); Eoin Cleary (2f), Cormac Murray (1f), Kieran Malone (0-2 each); Darragh McDonagh (0-1)
Scorers for Kilmurry Ibrickane: Keelan Sexton (0-5, 2f, 1M); Daryn Callinan (1-1, 1-0 Pen, 1M); Daniel Walsh (1-0); Darren Hickey (0-1)
St Joseph’s Miltown
1: Sean O’Brien
2: Euan Reidy
3: Seanie Malone
4: Aidan McGuane
7: Jamesie O’Connor
6: Enda O’Gorman
5: Micheál Murray
8: Oisin Looney
9: Darragh McDonagh
12: Kevin Keavey
11: Conor Cleary
10: Kieran Malone
13: Brian Curtin
14: Eoin Cleary
15: Cormac Murray
18: Cian Mahony for Keavey (HT)
19: Eoin O’Brien for Looney (34, inj)
24: Colin Hehir for O’Connor (59)
1: David Sexton
4: Mark Killeen
3: Darren Hickey
15: Martin McMahon
7: Darragh Sexton
6: Ciaran Morrissey
11: Enda Coughlan
5: Daniel Walsh
9: Aidan McCarthy
12: Andrew Shannon
13: Keelan Sexton
8: Diarmuid King
20: Joe Campbell
14: Daryn Callinan
19: Michael O’Dwyer
29: Jason McCarthy for King (8, inj)
17: Paudie Murrihy for Campbell (43)
21: Evan Talty for Callinan (64)
Referee: Chris Maguire (Wolfe Tones)