Champions begin defence in comfort

Senior Football Championship Group A

The Nire 4-18
Ardmore 1-3

Mac Dara Mac Donncha

Although Ardmore’s Ciaran Keating netted inside 20 seconds at Fraher Field on Saturday last, his side could only add a meagre three points thereafter as the reigning champions The Nire enjoyed an all-too-easy opening match in the defence of their SFC title. Their work rate and interplay were admirable here but Ardmore were quite poor on the night and The Nire will undoubtedly face stiffer opposition in future rounds. This was one of those wind-dominated matches, with Ardmore having the gale at their backs for the opening 30 minutes, but apart from Keating’s goal and a brief flurry towards the end of the first quarter, they were outplayed by a far slicker Nire XV.The fare had barely begun when a long ball in found Ciaran Keating inside the Nire defence, who crashed the ball into the net.

The Nire played a patient possession game into the biting wind and they were level by the 12th minute, with points from Dermot Ryan, Craig Guiry and Shane Walsh, with the veteran full-forward in scintillating form and caused major problems for the Ardmore defence throughout. His point could indeed have been a goal as his blasted effort went just over the crossbar after a flowing team movement. Ardmore then had a brief but good spell with fine score by Kenny Murphy and John Gartland, whose shot off the instep judged the wind perfectly. The Nire’s response was clinical and merciless. Great and unselfish work by Dylan Guiry laid a goal on a plate for Shane Walsh in the 16th minute and even by that early stage, the game was all but over as a meaningful contest.

Shane Ryan (a free), Kenny Brazil, Ryan again and a fisted Shane Walsh effort saw the champions lead at the interval by 1-7 to 1-2 and given that they had played against the wind, the signs weren’t good for Ardmore.Shane Walsh pointed early on the restart, with James Kennedy kicking a fine free into the wind for Ardmore but sadly for them, they wouldn’t score again. It did take The Nire a little time to fully calibrate their shooting boots but once they got into gear, this became a totally one-sided encounter. Their second goal came in the 43rd minute courtesy of Shane Ryan. He was part of a tremendous full forward line which contributed 2-11 in all, with just one point from a free.

Darren Guiry had their third four minutes later, and their final major came from corner-back Michael Moore after an Ardmore kickout went wrong. Interspersed with these goals were points from Shane Walsh (2), Dylan Guiry, Shane Ryan (3), Kenny Brazil and Jamie Barron.
Once again, this match demonstrated the chasm between the top football sides and the rest but in Ardmore’s defence, it seems that they have been largely been concentrating on hurling matters so far this year. Best for the champions were Thomas O’Gorman, Shane Ryan and Shane Walsh and for a well-beaten Ardmore, Kenny Murphy, John Gartland and Ciaran Keating battled throughout.

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