Clann Éireann 0-16 Clan na Gael 0-9
CLANN Éireann celebrated as they claimed the local bragging rights against Clan na Gael.
Clan na Gael were missing a number of players, including their attacking ace Stephan Campbell, but a more co-ordinated Clann Éireann were good value for their seven points win.
The home side were installed as slight outsiders for their opening game of the new season against their Lurgan rivals but they had a good blend of youth and experience in their line out which included Ryan Henderson who played in an unorthodox midfield role alongside Mark Beattie.
Whilst it was the Shore Road outfit who started stronger, the Blues were creeping back into contention just before the break before being dealt a cruel blow when Ronan Austin suffered an accidental and unfortunate injury which caused a 40 minute delay.
On the resumption it was Clann Éireann who adapted best and finished the stronger. Barry Seeley was responsible for the majority of their scores on the night and it was somewhat ironic that a famous Clan na Gael name was a major scoring threat for Clann Éireann.
Seeley’s seven points on the night were the highlight of the game.
Blues top scorer Paul McKenna responded in part for the visitors in an effective outing and although the Francis Street men possibly felt they underperformed, they came within touching distance of their opponents when young Patrick Kelly saw his close-in effort bounce off both posts 10 minutes into the second period with his team just three points behind.
The final quarter, however, belonged to the winners who shot eight points to their opponents four.
Last Thursday’s opponents may very well meet again later in the season and with both teams at full strength, the result could be a lot closer.
It would, however, be difficult to underestimate the task facing both clubs as they attempt to consolidate their first division status.
In hindsight, Clann Éireann were always going to be up for this particular game, their ‘full-court press’ tactics unsettled the Clans defenders who, at times, were penalised for overcarrying or losing possession inside their own half by the unerring boot of Seeley and the pin-point passing of Henderson who played behind one of the winners’ most underrated players, Conor Bell, who put in a great night’s work.
Although Blues managers Kevin O’Hagan and John Campbell will see their side as a work in progress, young players like Glen France who partnered Ronan Austin at midfield, David McCaughley and Caolan Campbell, will need to find their Division One footing very quickly in what looks like an unforgiving league.
The winners showed a huge amount of mobility up front with Daniel McCavanagh, Declan Leathem and the live wire Chris McCafferty constantly on the move.
For the Clans Ronan Austin, before his injury, was winning good possession around the middle and Conor McCaffrey put in his normal upbeat shift. At the back, the Lake Street side were best served by Michael Lyness, Danny France and Danny Shanks.
Clann Éireann won this derby game due to the fact that they dominated the first and last quarters.
The Blues had decent periods just before and after the break but, in tense derbies where frees can come thick and fast, the accuracy of Barry Seeley proved to be the difference between the sides at the end.