By Rory O'Donnell
The first sights and sounds of Gaelic games at the ICC is a sure sign that Winter is in the rearview mirror and Spring is here. It is a long winter break this side of the Atlantic and by the time the snow is melted and milder weather rolls in, the itch to get back on to the field of play is irresistible. Saturday afternoon saw the commencement of the Pat O’Brien Cup with six teams getting the chance to shake off the winter cobwebs and translate some of the last several weeks of training onto the football field. Clubs also had a chance to take a look at some of their new signings in action and start thinking about the first round championship lineouts a little over a month from now.
|Pat Moriarty on his bike for the Blues.|
Donegal, Aidan McAnespies, and Connemara Gaels were the winners. Donegal ran up an impressive win over Shannon Blues. Jason Noctor, a holdover from last year’s championship winning team, made an early impression after finishing an incisive first half move with a goal. Rory Dunleavy, another veteran of the 2015 Boston season, popped over a number of nicely taken points. The Blues made several foray’s into their opponents territory. Pat Moriarty, Conor Fitzgerald and James Feeney were frequently involved, however the yield for their efforts at the half was two points. Donegal added two more goals through Noctor and Buncrana native, John Campbell.
The second half saw the Blues put in a better shift and on a couple of occasions could have netted. Maurice Young accounted for a couple of well taken points, however, Donegal were able to maintain their advantage. Kieran Russell at midfield and Alan McLaughlin at center forward did well, while Campbell in the forward line looked strong throughout. Donegal with a 3-10 to 0-6 win.
|Ballybofey man, Rory Dunleavy, in possession for Donegal.|
Connemara Gaels defeated Christopher’s by a score of 2-13 to 2-7. Corner forward Jack Kielt accounted for 1-6 of his side’s tally. It was all square at the break with the teams looking evenly matched, however the Gaels inched ahead as the second half wore on. Westmeath native and one of last year’s championship team members, Ryan Caffrey, did a lot of work in the middle of the field. David Black, Brian Joyce and Noel Graham also toiled hard for the Gaels in their victory. Christopher’s fielded a good number of new faces. Scores came from a couple of Jack Murphy 50 meter kicks, a goal from Levine Hodgkins, and Conor O’Brien played well in the middle of the field.
Cork, who were without aa number of players, fell victim to a rampant Aidan McAnespies in that contest. McAnespies, containing many new faces, looked strong. Offaly man, Ritchie Reynolds, Antrim’s Kevin McKernan, and Tyrone men Mark Devine and JP Gallagher all impressed for the northerners. Old soldiers, Collie Donnelly and Gareth O’Neill made hay in the middle of the field as Cork struggled to compete. Ryan Connell, a product of the youth league, made his adult debut at wing forward for Cork, while Ollie Murphy, Darren O’Donovan, and Mike Carolan battled hard in the rearguard. Eoghan Flaherty accounted for Cork’s score, and the rebels will meet the Connemara Gaels in next week’s first round proper, while McAnespies will face a stiffer test against the Gaels.
Next Round of Games TBD.