CLANN na Banna suffered defeat in the first league game of the season against newly relegated An Ríocht at Cottage Park.
Despite numerous changes in personnel due to retirement, emigration and injury, Bann’s young team matched the more experienced visitors throughout the game but were unable to convert possession into scores in the last quarter.
An Ríocht took an early two point lead with a converted free and a point from play from full forward John Clarke. It took the home team a little time to settle but as Conor Lunny and Mick Kennedy began to claim their share of midfield, Bann made good progress forward with Rory Hill and Paddy Gillen showing well.
Goalkeeper Michael McAllister opened Bann’s account from a 45 and Hill equalised when put through by Gillen. An Ríocht restored their lead with two pointed frees but despite conceding what appeared to be soft frees, Bann’s defence was coping well.
Kennedy pointed from thirty five yards and Gillen levelled the score with a point after good work by Liam McGarry and Paddy Bradley. Indeed, McGarry’s pace was posing problems for An Ríocht’s full back line but Bann were unable to capitalise and a defensive error at the other end allowed An Ríocht to take a one point lead at the break.
Banbridge started the second half on top and Kennedy scored his second point to level the scores again. John Clarke got one back for the visitors but it was Bann’s turn to dominate the next ten minutes. With Hill and Paddy Feeney collecting loose ball around the middle Bann were able to surge forward but had little to show on the score boards for their effort. Short shots by Bradley and Feeney were collected by the goalkeeper or punched clear of the square and ascorable free was missed after Sean McGarry was fouled as he joined the attack. Paddy Bradley levelled the scores again with a free but as before An Ríocht made a quick response when their corner back was allowed to run through the middle unchallenged for a point.
Banbridge capitalised on a defensive error to take the lead 15 minutes from the end. The ball broke loose to Bradley who did well to draw the defender before putting Liam McGarry through to beat the keeper from close in. Feeney added a point to put Bann in front by three but they failed to add to the lead missing a free and dropping shots short to end promising attacks.
Instead it was An Ríocht who battled their way back into the match pointing from play and converting a free to reduce the margin to one. A poor defensive clearance then handed possession back to the visitors. The ball was returned high to Bann’s goalmouth where goalkeeper and defender failed to deal with it allowing the incoming forward to punch to the net.
Banbridge tried hard to get back on terms but could add only two pointed frees from Brian Donaghy and Paddy Feeney and they were unable to find another goal due to some stout defending.
FIXTURES - Clann na Banna is at home again this Friday evening at 7:15pm in the third round of the ACFL. This week the visitors are from Loughinisland. The Reserves match against Warrenpoint on Sunday has been postponed.
For Clann na Derg, the Minors play Ballyholland on Tuesday evening, while the U16s host Liatroim at 7:00pm on Thursday 19 April.
The rescheduled U12 blitz at Tullylish takes place this Sunday, 22 April, from 10:30am. On the weekend of 28-29 April, Clann na Banna hosts a couple of Go Games blitzes: U8 on the Saturday and U12 on the Sunday.
SEISIÚN NA BANNA - This Friday, 20 April, sees another club folk night, again at McGrath’s. Friends of the club are welcome to join club members after the game for a session featuring singers, musicians and bodhrán players from Clann na Banna.