After narrowly missing out on a Keegan Cup quarter final spot, Curraha had to regroup and ready themselves for a relegation playoff against a Moynalvey side who had finished 3rd in their group.
The sides traded early frees. Diarmuid Moriarty pointed inside the opening 90 seconds after David Toner was taken down by a high tackle 20 meters from goal. Cillian O'Sullivan responded shortly after. The game was being played a great pace, with several big tackles going in and the referee generally happy to allow things to flow. Curraha regained the lead in the 8th minute, with Conor Moriarty scoring after Ruairí O'Sullivan and Podge O'Hanrahan bought made excellent runs, breaking through the Moynalvey defence. Moriarty exchanged passes with Phelim Dowling and fired over the bar. Jack O'Connor extended the lead a minute later, a strong run from the left wing towards the centre of the pitch left him in space to curl a right footed effort over the bar from the 40. Curraha were beginning to gain the upper hand, with their defence very much on top at this point, and they were turning possession over on a regular basis as Moynalvey tried to implement their running game. Cillian O'Sullivan did find the target in the 10th minute to leave 1 point between the sides, but Ronan Flynn responded soon after, firing over from close range after a 45 from O'Connor came back off the post. Diarmuid Moriarty extended the lead with a free after Jack O'Connor was hauled down off the ball as he tried to get on to a pass from David Toner. A mix-up in the Curraha defence almost allowed Moynalvey back into it as they had a rare sight of goal in the first half. However, just as it looked like they would find the net, Matthew Webb appeared from nowhere to brilliantly block the ball and danger was averted.
Curraha were on target again soon after, with Diarmuid Moriarty registering his 3rd point of the game. Niall McLarnon brilliantly turned the ball over in the centre of the pitch and drove forward, feeding Moriarty who fired over. Moynalvey managed to come back into it then, registering points from Cillian O'Sullivan and David McLoughlin, before the game swung in Curraha's favour. Niall McLarnon turned the ball over yet again, and put Niall Murphy through on goal. His low effort may possibly have been heading for the corner flag, but the 'slightest' of deflections saw the ball nestle in the corner of the net, and Curraha had a 5-point lead. Curraha won the resulting kick-out and won a free on the left sideline near the 21. Diarmuid Moriarty stepped up and swung a brilliant effort over the bar and the lead was now 6. This would be extended again by hlaf time, with Jack O'Connor on target again. A patient team move as the half-time whistle approached saw almost every Curraha player get a touch, before a brilliant burst and lay off from Matthew Webb created space for O'Connor to swing over a left footed effort on the stroke of half-time. All had gone to plan so far for Curraha, as they limited the opposition to just 4 scores and were causing problems every time they attacked. As with previous games, their ability to turn the ball over, led by Niall McLarnon and Phelim Dowling, was starving the opposition attack of any clean possession.
Half Time: Curraha 1-8 Moynalvey 0-4
Following a torrential downpour at half-time, conditions were a bit more difficult as the game resumed. Moynalvey came out fired up and the game became quite scrappy in the opening exchanges, with scores hard to come by. A Diarmuid Moriarty free in the 9th minute following a foul a Murphy was the opening score, and this extended the gap to 8 points. A minute later, the tide began to turn for Moynalvey as they found the back of the net through O'Sullivan to reduce the gap to 5. And shortly after they capitalised on a defensive mistake to raise the green flag again, and suddenly it was game on. To make matters worse for Curraha, Mark Jackson received a black card almost immediately after, and they were down to 14 for the next 1o minutes. To their credit, they responded brilliantly to the setbacks, and steadied the ship. They regained the defensive solidity they had displayed in the opening half, and Moynalvey could only manage a single point during the black card period. Both sides fought and scrapped for every ball, and Curraha refused to back down from any challenge. Ronan Flynn came up with a huge score 4 minutes from time, firing over an outstanding left footed effort from near the sideline of the left of the pitch. Again, the move started with savage work rate in defence, and another Phelim Dowling turnover. O'Sullivan reduced the gap to 1 again with a minute left on the clock, and the scene was set for a tense finish. Moynalvey patiently held onto possession looking to work a chance, but Curraha's defensive structure kept forcing them back and across. Eventually the ball broke around the 45 and Niall Murphy dived towards the ball to secure possession. He received a blow to the head and had to leave the field after lengthy treatment, and to compound matters, he was very harshly deemed to have committed a foul in the tackle. After a long stoppage, Cillian O'Sullivan had a chance to level the match and bring the game to extra time. His effort drifted high towards the left goalpost, and with no movement from the umpires, a huge cheer went up from the Curraha bench and supporters. However, neither umpire seemed certain if the ball was wide or over. The referee went in to to consult with them, and still both sets of players and supported waited for a decision. Eventually, following further consultation with the lineman on that side, the ball was waved wide much to the delight of the Curraha supporters. There was still time for one last attack from Moynalvey, but yet again, the Curraha defence stood tall and they cleared the danger before the full-time whistle sounded.
This was a great game of football between 2 sides who have met regularly over the last few years. It was very much a game of 2 halves with Curraha dominating the 1st, and at one point looking out of sight. Credit to Moynalvey for their response and coming so close to getting back on level terms. Curraha's season now comes to an end, and Senior Championship status is secured for another year. The return of our Tailteann Cup & Christy Ring winners made a huge difference, along with players returning from abroad but this was somewhat offset by losing number of players to injury. it does however demonstrate the potential the club has when there is a full panel available for management to work with. The team put in some great performances, and there is a great platform there for us to continue to build for the future.
HON THE HA!
Full Time: Curraha 1-10 Moynalvey 2-6
Curraha: Luke McCarthy, Oisin Fay, Matthew Webb, Seamus Hogan, Niall Murphy(1-0)*, Mark Jackson, Padraig O'Hanrahan, David Toner, Niall McLarnon, Ronan Flynn (0-2), Phelim Dowling, Jack O'Connor (0-2), Ciaran O'Hanrahan, Diarmuid Moriarty (0-5), Conor Moriarty (0-1).
Subs: Ciaran O'Hanrahan for Ruairí O'Sullivan. Gavin Coyle for Mark Jackson
*Dubious Goals Committee