BURREN 1-09 BRYANSFORD 2-17
Burren and Bryansford would each have gone into this game with aspirations of getting a win under their belts before their respective championship matches writes Pete McGrath Jnr. However, Burren were missing a couple of players and ultimately by the final whistle this shortcoming in resources was to prove a determining factor on the scoreboard at the bottom left hand corner of St. Mary’s Park, Burren.
Conaill McGovern shot Burren into the lead on just 29 seconds and less than a minute later the lightning start was completed when Kevin McKernan, who had moved directly to full-forward out-caught Philip Bonny, though the full back did later get the measure of McKernan, but on this early occasion the Down ace turned quickly, shot low and hard and his effort cannoned off the base of Peter Travers’ post and into the corner of the net.
The home crowd were in raptures, the away team in tatters, but through time Bryansford crept back into the game and converted their first point with a Ciaran Brannigan free, and there followed the turning point. From Bryansford’s point of view Peter Travers temporarily morphed into Steve McQueen as he made a stunning save to make possible the Great Escape.
Kevin McGivern was running through on Peter Travers but Travers saved the point blank shot with his legs. The ball rebounded out to Kevin McKernan and he took his point to restore Burren’s four point advantage but it was a big difference from the six points it could well have been. Points from Chris Clarke and Danny Savage had clawed Bryansford’s way back into the match and that route to the comeback was opened wider when Chris Brannigan angled a shot beautifully over the bar and Ciaran Brannigan could have put his side in front from the penalty spot only to be denied by Cathal Murdoch who superbly save the penalty.
Though the kick was hit centrally, any save from the new 11-yard spot must be given phenomenal credit. Kevin McKernan and Kevin McGovern both pointed and at this stage it looked as if Burren were capable of pulling away any time at their leisure. Chris Brannigan and Kevin McGovern proceeded to exchange points prior to Bryansford stringing together a run of six consecutive scores. County midfielder Kalum King got the string started and then Brian King instigated a one-two with David McKibben on a meandering run up the field before finishing his foray forward with a point.
When the impressive Chris Clarke picked up a breaking ball at centre-field and found Conor Gribben who went on a run and suitably concluded it with another point. Ciaran Brannigan put Bryansford a point in-front only for Burren to miss another goaling chance due to a Peter Travers save. It is on moments like these that games change and in this match it so happened – had Burren taken their goaling chances they would almost surely have went on to win this contest.
Directly from Travers’ save Bryansford went down the field and Conor Maginn fisted it over. Danny Savage followed on quickly with another point on twenty five minutes. Chris Clarke and Chris Brannigan combined for the latter to point. A Conaill McGovern free ended the run of scores but Chris Clarke raised Bryansford’s thirteenth flag of the match on the stroke of half time.
The second half was an altogether quieter affair, with a sum total of just nine scores. Of that total, the inept hosts managed just three and in truth they made things easy for Bryansford and two soft goals added a real gloss to the scoreline which didn’t really tell a full or accurate story of the game. Bryansford settled into the half with a Ciaran Brannigan free and this was subsequently followed by the first of those two goals.
Burren gifted possession to the men in green and gold and Conor Gribben slickly played a one-two with Ciaran Brannigan and having got the ball back Gribben shot emphatically to the top corner of the net. A Thomas Farrell free and then another Kevin McKernan point closed the gap to six. Bryansford piled pressure onto the Burren full back line after this and were eventually rewarded when a Burren defender passed the ball to Conor Gribben, with the attacker inside the penalty box and he had the simplest of tasks laying the leather to his right and the onrushing Danny Savage. Charging through like a steam train Savage only just managed to drop the ball onto his foot and direct it to the Burren net.
Any fight that might have been left in Burren was wiped away with that one knock-out blow and a left footed point from Ciaran Brannigan and then Chris Clarke and Kalum King interchanged passes before getting the ball to Timmy Hanna who popped it over. A very good point from Kevin McGivern had added some semblance of respectability to the scoreline but Aidan Keenan who was introduced in a Graham Canty like role filled the Cork captain’s boots in suitable fashion with a frankly marvellous point to round off the scoring.
Had the game ended there and then, Bryansford would have been more than happy but there was one cruel sting in the tale awaiting the unsuspecting Ford. Leading by example to the bitter end, captain Joe Ireland was chasing a ‘nothing-ball’ five seconds before the final whistle and suddenly he ended in a heap on the ground when his hamstring went. It didn’t look good. Is Joe Ireland out of next week’s game? Bryansford must surely hope not, but all did not look good for the big blonde midfielder.