THERE was little joy for the famed Fenians from Johnstown after their long return trip to the Northern province after going down tamely to a well-tuned, smarter, better hurling Mooncoin in the junior league on an unappetising Sunday afternoon in Mooncoin.
The wind howled like a demented banshee and the rain belted down in stair rods. The probability of clean-catching a flying sliotar, or the keeping of one’s feet on the sodden turf was akin to frying weetabix at the North Pole bare skinned.
Mooncoin had first use of the storm, if you like. It seemed for a while - a long while - that they had no interest in winning. They fired 13 balls wide of the posts inside the opening 25 minutes.
Davy O’Brien shot over their first free in the 9th minute and Ray Wall fired over their next score from play in the 26th minute. In between………… zilch.
On the other hand, the Fenians defended as if next week’s wage packet depended on the outcome. Their full-back line was absolutely tremendous, even if at times they lived on the edge, and I mean that in its fairest values.
Ciaran Ryan and Eoin Phelan were outstanding. I cannot remember a single ball they contested that was lost by either. Between them, Ger Henderson was a colossus at full-back. Again, while his pace wouldn’t win a sprinting gold medal, his composure and his sure footedness were tremendously solid.
He too was unbeatable. His leadership qualities were loudly apparent. As they say, black cat, black kitten.
After Ray Wall scored that 26th minute point, suddenly Mooncoin got to realise where the posts were situated. Points were certainly going to become good currency on such a dreadful day.
Ethan Ryan (2), Tom Healy and Sean Wall all converted to leave the half-time score: Mooncoin 0-7, Fenians 0-1. It seemed a poor lookout for the Mooncoin chances.
The winners sprung the young J.P. Purcell at the break. He proved an invaluable asset. He increased the Mooncoin lead with a smashing point in the 32nd minute. He was to get a few more later.
Eoin Shields grabbed Fenians second point in the 33rd minute, but even though the visitors had the storm with them, they found it increasingly difficult to penetrate the Mooncoin defence in which Alan Hennebry, Shane Walsh, Tom O’Hanlon and Aidan Walsh were very determined.
In the 40th minute Mooncoin had a real let-off when Danny Dermody slashed at a breaking ball inside the Mooncoin small square. The sliotar rocketed across the face of Patrick Kinsella’s goal. Young Purcell stitched three delightful points to his earlier one, and suddenly the visitors were on the back foot.
They lost total control of the mid-third of the park, and that was certainly a recipe for defeat.
The Fenains just couldn’t get to the pace of the game, and too many of them were resigned to be supporting actors rather than taking centre stage roles. There is no doubting that the better team won, and did so quite comfortably.
For Mooncoin, Patrick Kinsella, Alan Hennebry, Shane Walsh, Tom O’Hanlon, Ray wall, Ethan Ryan, and of course young Purcell were very good. The Fenians had great warriors in Damien Delaney, Ciaran Ryan, Ger Henderson, Eoin Phelan, Edward Hughes, Declan Brennan, Eoin Shields, Davy,Lar, and Jonathan Ryan.
Scorers: Mooncoin - Ethan Ryan (0-5, one free); J.P. Purcell (0-4); Davy O’Brien (0-3, frees); Sean Wall (0-2); Ray Wall, Tom Healy, Paul Walsh (0-1 each). Fenians - Eoin Shields, Lar Ryan (0-2 each); Eugene Grehan (0-1).
Mooncoin - Patrick Kinsella, Dick Mackey, Alan Henebery, Thomas Walsh, Shane Walsh, Tom O’Hanlon, Aidan Walsh, Sean Wall, Ray Wall, Tom Healy, Niall O’Hanlon, Tom Kearns, Ethan Ryan, Eamonn Mackey, Davy O’Brien. Subs - J.P. Purcell, Paul Walsh.
Fenians - Damien Delaney, Ciaran Ryan, Ger Henderson, Eoin Phelan, Edward Hughes, Cathal Ryan, Declan Brennan, Eoin Shields, Dermot Power, Eoin O’Meara, Dara Tobin, Jonathan Ryan, Lar Ryan, Eugene Grehan, Davy Ryan. Subs - Danny Dermody, Sean Warren, Brandon Webster.
Referee - Gavin Quilty (Slieverue).