Early goal leaves Culloville singing the blues

October 5, 2010

Culloville 0-11 Sarsfields 1-15

For the third time in four years Culloville have faced the heartbreak of losing the Intermediate championship final. It was immediate backs to the wall stuff for Culloville at Crossmaglen against fellow First Division side Sarsfield who got off to a terrific start with a goal and a point inside the opening minute.

Thomas McAlinden, son of former Armagh goalkeeper and team manager Brian who inflicted the early damage with the opening two scores as he sliced through the Culloville defence an indication that the pace and economy of the Sarsfield attack was going to be the deciding factor over the hour

The game’s top scorer and main threat Kieran Hatzer sailed over two points in as many minutes to settle Culloville after the early shock. But Sarsfield through Johnny Reynolds and midfielder Eimead Murray cancelled out those two scores with points to leave it 1-3 to 0-2 after 6 minutes. A scoreless seven minutes which saw Culloville waste opportunities and register a couple of wides was ended by another brace of Sarsfields points as Mark Reynolds and the impressive Ritchie Stevenson got on the scoresheet. A couple of more Culloville wides and Seamus Watters pulled for overcarrying were an indication that nothing was going right as Stevenson made it 1-6 to 0-2 with a point before the Derrytrasna side chalked up their first wide after 22 minutes.  Culloville, wind assisted, pushed on strong as the half came to a conclusion. Seamus Watters pointed after Callan had hit a post and Hatzer took his tally to 4 with 2 points which left it 1-6 to 0-5 at the interval.

Sarsfields were out of the blocks every bit as quick in the second half as in the first as they stretched their lead to six with points from Stevenson and McAlinden.  Five minutes after the restart Hatzer from a free and a point from Sean McGeeney brought it back to 1-8 to 0-7. Needding a lifeline to get back into the game Watters shot tamely into the keepers arms as Sarsfields immediately broke downfield with substitute Kieran McAlinden getting the first of his 3 points to stretch the lead.  A Stevenson free left it 1-10 to 0-7 on 46 minutes before Hatzer and Kieran McAlinden traded points. Johhnny McGeeney and Johnny Reynolds swopped points 1-12 to 0-9 with nine minutes left on the clock. Hatzer took his personal tally to 8 points with two more to cut the deficit to four but it was Sarsfields, appearing in their first Intermediate final since winning their only title back in 1969, who finished the stronger with a trio of points from Kieran and Thomas McAlinden and the last score of the game from Ritchie Stevenson.

A quicker, sharper, full of running Sarsfields were deserving winners as Culloville could not get any rhythm going and were overdependant on one man for scores. The goal drought which affected Culloville in their last two final defeats once again surfaced as the fluency which was a hallmark of their attacking play was blighrted with uncertainty, indicision and wrong options. At the other end of the field the free running Sarsfields forwards were causing problems with every attack.

Scorers- Culloville- Kieran Hatzer 0-8, Johnny McGeeney, Seamus Watters, Sean McGeeney 0-1 each Sarsfields-Thomas McAlinden 1-3, Ritchie Stevenson 0-5, Kieran McAlinden 0-3, Johnny Reynolds 0-2, Eimead Murray and Mark Reynolds 0-1 each.