Lancashire Senior League
John Mitchels 1-12
THIS was the first meeting of Lancashire’s ‘Big Two’ since last year’s Championship final and yet again John Mitchels emerged victorious, but this was not a game for the faint hearted.
There were some savage hits from both teams: some fair, most not, as Fergal Kiernan tried to keep the lid on a game which was bubbling right from the off.
Four players had to be taken off with injuries resulting from late hits, high tackles and general unsportsmanlike behaviour. At times, the pitch resembled a bloody battle field, with bodies strewn the length and breadth of Greenbank.
This, however, should not take away from a game which was of high intensity and produced some fantastic scores. It was an even contest until the sending off of Oisins’ Paul Noone 10 minutes before the break for a double yellow card.
Subsequently, this turned the tide in favour of the Liverpool men for the remainder of the match. Both sides were missing plenty of players, but on this basis, it seems John Mitchels have a greater strength in depth for the season ahead.
John Mitchels started off brightly and they opened the scoring through a fisted effort from Darren Healy after a great team move orchestrated by Rory Sharvin.
They followed this up with a score from Cork’s John Dorgan after good work by Paddy Mulligan. Oisins started to settle in the game and in PJ Magee they had a terrific outlet. Oisins’ half-forward line retreated into their own half and left the space for the Donegal man to work in.
He was soon rewarded for his efforts, with a score from far out. Soon after, his shot dropped short to Tyrone’s Tiarnan O’Hagan who fired low below Matty Deany in the John Mitchel’s goal.
This left Oisins two points to the good and they stretched this to three when Ciaran Harper scored from a free after O’Hagan was fouled. The latter was on target again when the ball fell into his path after David McTeggart fisted a high ball away from the square.
By the 15th minute, the Oisins full forward line had registered 1-04 between them and it was clear where the danger lay. Then disaster struck for Oisins in the 20th minute. Paul Noone received his second yellow card for and was given his marching orders.
Noone could have no complaints. The only thing he may have had an issue with, was that any other player on any team could have been dismissed; such were the tackles that were taking place.
Things went from bad to worse for Oisins when O’Hagan, who was having a fine game, was carried off injured. Before Noone was sent off, Oisins had registered four consecutive scores. After that, John Mitchels hit six scores in a row, three in each half.
Firstly, Mulligan scored with a 25-metre free. Secondly, Aidan Kearney fired over after a superb pass by Paddy Murphy and then Craig Owen finished the scoring for the opening half from long range.
Oisins were the better team in the first-half, they constantly broke down John Mitchels’ attack, while their own was functioning quite well when the ball went in. Most of the game was broken up however, with the stoppages for constant free kicks. At half-time the score was John Mitchels 0-05 Oisins 1-03.
John Mitchels, started the second where they left off in the first half, with Mulligan pointing from long range. After that, new signing, Kerry’s Darren Russell pointed after cutting in from the side and Murphy opened his account with his trusty left boot.
When Mitchels get in front, it’s very hard to catch them, and so proved the case again. Harper, who would have a mixed day from place balls, stemmed the tide, but it was just temporary.
Mitchels began to win the breaking ball, while the Oisins’ attack was non-existent. On one such sortie into the Mitchel’s half, Oisins had only one player up front. Paraic McGuirk would then signal his entry to the field of play for the Mitchels, with a sweet effort from 45 metres out with the outside of the boot.
Dorgan and Owen then doubled their tally for the day when they pointed in succession. The score now read John Mitchels 0-11 to Oisins 1-04. Mitchels would soon put the game out of reach from Oisins, when Russell was pulled down in the square.
Murphy made no mistake from the spot. Kearney, whose decisive running was prominent throughout the game, then pointed. Kearney was excelling in his new role at centre-half forward, where he got on the ball more often.
Two late scores from Niall Donnelly and Mel McCaughey for Oisins, finished the scoring for the day to leave the final scoreline, John Mitchels 1-12 v 1-06 Oisins.
These two teams will meet at least three more times this season, but it could end up being five times if fate decides.
Both teams will forget this come the summer as their minds turn towards championship, but getting a win is always welcome. Mitchels’ new signings were more prominent than the Manchester side's, with Dorgan and Russell impressing.
They will have to continue to do this weekly, with the squad Mitchels have, a quick glance to Barry Morris’ sideline indicating this fact. On the opposing sideline, Niall Farren won’t be too downbeat.
They were the better team before losing Noone to a red card and O’Hagan to injury, and have the calibre of players like Gerry McCaughey, a fit Cathal Murphy and Deaglan O’Hagan to come back.
GAME AT A GLANCE
Man of the match: Craig Owen (John Mitchels): Was operating for much of last year in the half-forward line, where his excellent fitness and link play, were key assets in their Championship success, today he was wing back. Often the ‘unsung hero’ in a team of great individual players, Craig Owen was head and shoulders above the rest of his team mates today. He scored 2 points, the second being a monstrous effort from 50 metres out, to leave his mark on the day. He found more room running from deep on Saturday and therefore, he was more prominent in the game as he drove John Mitchels on.
Other contenders: Aidan Kearney, John O’Hagan, Tiarnan O’Hagan, PJ Magee
John Mitchels: Matty Deaney; John O’Hagan, David McTeggart, Niall McShane; Daniel McGonigle, Michael Higgins, Craig Owen (0-02); Paddy Mulligan (0-01, 1f), Rory Sharvin; John Dorgan (0-02), Aidan Kearney (0-02), Aidan Slatterty; Darren Russell (0-01), Paddy Murphy (1-01, 1pen, 1f), Darren Healy (0-01).
Subs used: Paraic McGuirk (0-01), Eddie Jackson, Peter Farrelly, Mark Sweeney
Oisins: Michael Donnelly; John Garrity, Thomas McMenamin, Aidan Byrne; Rory McLaughlin, Armstrong, Niall Mullan; Paul Noone, Thomas Finlay; Boylan, Fergue Reilly, Niall Donnelly (0-01); Ciaran Harper (0-02, 2f), Tiarnan O’Hagan (1-01), PJ McGee (0-01)
Subs used: Cathal Murphy, Cunningham, Ryan Devine, Mel McCaughey (0-01), Dixie Devlin