Glenmore go to the top of the football pile

John Knox

Glenmore 2-7 Muckalee 0-10

Scorers: Glenmore - Paul Phelan (1-5, goal penalty, four frees); Michael Phelan (1-0); Mark Phelan, Kenneth Cottrell (0-1 each). Muckalee - John Maher (0-3, two frees); Tom Morrissey (0-2); Colm McGrath (0-2, one free); Robert Shore, Shane Coonan, Ronan Ruane (0-1 each).

GLENMORE, a well-known hurling stronghold in recent times and All-Ireland club champions in 1991, returned to more traditional territory at the weekend when they scored an historic victory in the Kilkenny senior football championship final.

The men from the deep South scored their 20th success in the championship, which put them on top of the Roll of Honour ahead of Railyard, who have 19 wins to their credit.

Glenmore won their first title way back in 1906. However, it was during the 'twenties and 'forties that they enjoyed their best days when capturing nine titles. In recent years Glenmore have been there or thereabouts in the championship in Kilkenny, but Saturday's victory over Muckalee at Nowlan Park was their first since 1998.

It is always said that goals win games. Well, the golden strikes by Paul Phelan (injury-time at the end of the first half) and Michael Phelan (33rd minute) made all the difference in this good standard game.

Muckalee were the equals of their opponents during most of the first half. However, Paul Phelan's expertly put away penalty goal gave Glenmore the advantage at half-time (1-5 to 0-5).

Michael Phelan's strike increased the lead to 2-5 to 0-6, and to be honest, the Southerners looked the winners all the way from there to the finish.

Almost casual

The opening exchanges were almost casual as both sides attempted to play the short passing, possession game. However, the free count soared and in all 22 frees (13 to Glenmore) were awarded by the referee, who kept a very tight grip on proceedings.

The losers opened backed by the breeze blowing towards the country end. It was Glenmore who opened the scoring, Paul Phelan kicking a free off the ground in the third minute following a foul on Richard Mullally. Within a minute Muckalee replied after Tom Morrissey put Shane Coonan through for a close range point.

The trend for the scoring exchanges was more or less set there and then. Muckalee took up the running in the ninth minute when John Maher finished a lovely, sweeping move involving Joe Maher and Colm McGrath by shooting a point.

A like score from the same player left Muckalee 0-3 to 0-1 ahead as the game turned into the second quarter. Paul Phelan kicked a pair of frees off the ground to level affairs at 0-3 each in the 18th minute.

The winners continued to drive on. Phelan won them the lead with a small score. This drew a good response from Muckalee in the shape of a point from Shane Coonan after receiving possession from a quickly taken lineball by Colm McGrath.

Muckalee hit the front for the second time when Tom Morrissey kicked a very good score in the 28th minute (0-5 to 0-4). They looked like carrying that advantage into the rest, but then Glenmore unearthed a scoring touch into lost time at the end of the half.

No hesitation

In the 31st minute Richard Mullally put a clever low ball through to Aidan Murphy, who was getting ready to shoot from 12-metres when he was tripped. The referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty. Paul Phelan was as cool a cucumber when he sent the 'keeper the wrong way when shooting left footed into the bottom left corner of the net.

Two minutes further on the same Phelan kept a wild shot from Richard Fitzgerald from going wide, and from a bad angle on the right he shot a smashing point. Phelan was the lone scorer for Glenmore during that period.

Half-time score: Glenmore 1-5, Muckalee 0-5.

Tom Morirssey and Colm McGrath went close to scoring for Muckalee within two minutes of the restart, but when a foul was committed, John Maher rose the white flag. The next score was Glenmore's second goal.

The telling move was started on the Glenmore '40' by the most elegant player on view, Eoin Murphy, who looked a real natural footballer. Murphy pumped a 50-metre angled drive from the right into space just to the left of the Muckalee goal. Michael Phelan read the move perfectly, gathered possession and finished left footed to the net.

Muckalee were hurt, but they were far from crippled. They hit back smartly. Following a foul on John Mulhall, the free veered away and the ball struck the right upright before falling back into play. Tom Morrissey turned possession into a point.

Things improved even more for Muckalee in the 41st minute when Colm McGrath finished a move involving Tom Morrissey and John Mulhall by kicking a point (2-5 to 0-8).

Responded under pressure

Glenmore responded well under pressure. They hit back for a brace of points from Keith Cottrell and Richard Fitzgerald before they almost grabbed a third goal. Ger Aylward slipped the losers defence, but he side-footed a close range effort just wide.

In the wind-up Ronan Ruane and Colm McGrath traded points, but Muckalee never looked like saving the situation. In the end Glenmore had that bit more mobility and football know how in more areas of the field, and that made all the difference.

Glenmore's Eoin Murphy, who was as comforable on the ball as any footballer could be, played a super game at wing-back. They had plenty of stars, including Michael Cody, Davy Aylward, Richard Mullally, Paul Phelan, James Murphy and Richard Fitzgerald.

Good for the losers were John Maher, Paddy Nolan, Alan Murphy, Mick Morrissey, Ollie Walsh, Joe and Paul Maher.

The winner play the intermediate champions from Carlow or Louth in the Leinster championship.

The teams

Glenmore - F. Griffin, D. Aylward, F. Freyne, C. Foran, J.Cody, M. Cody, E. Murphy, R. Mullally, J. Murphy, Mark Phelan, Michael Phelan, P. Phelan, R. Fitzgerald, K. Cottrell, G. Aylward. Subs - S. Kirwan, D. Beirne.

Muckalee - T.J. Coonan, O. Walsh, A. Murphy, N. Purcell, M. Morrissey (capt), P. Nolan, M. Dowling, Joe Maher, P. Maher, R. Shore, John Maher, S. Coonan, T. Morrissey, C. McGrath, A. Murphy. Subs - J. Mulhall, R. Ruane, R. Maher.

Referee - M. Flynn (Mooncoin).

PS - Glenmore will be without Richard Fitzgerald from here on. He emighrated to Australia on Monday in search of work.


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