CLANN Na Banna began their Division Two campaign with a tough test on Friday night at Cottage Park against Glassdrumman, newly promoted and undefeated last year from Division Three.
The locals started the brighter, moving the ball around with ease and the first attack led to the opening goal. Lunney played McArdle through and he finished well to the bottom corner of the net.
Clann continued in their attacking style of football, Devlin landing another point from play. Glassdrumman dangerman Connor Harrison kicked their first score of the game from a free kick.
They kept the pressure up with Connor Lenaghan landing a 45, with ex-Clann player Gribben having to tip his effort over the bar.
Liam Devlin was becoming more assertive in the middle of the field, and Gribben was brought back into action to deny McArdle his second goal of the game. The Clann defence stayed solid throughout, forcing the Glassdrumman attackers to shoot from distance and forcing the attackers to kick wides.
Lenaghan converted another free and shortly after floated one to the edge of the box, Alan McGrath rose highest to win the ball, played the ball to Hill who kicked another well worked point.
Burns and Devlin where beginning to dominate in the middle of the field, winning vital breaking ball, and Lenaghan kicked another point to keep the Clann out in front.
Glassdrumman scored two successive frees to close the gap, and with a misunderstanding in defence the ball broke kindly to the Glassdrumman number 11 who finished to the back of the net to leave just two points between the sides.
Liam McGarry turned his man and pointed from play to ease the pressure from the goal, but Harrison pointed from another free to close the gap back to two. Gary McGrath made a vital save before the half time whistle to keep the Clann ahead and leading at the break 1-6 to 1-4.
Clann started the second half strongly, scoring four unanswered points, two from Devlin, one from McArdle and another from Hill.
Glassdrumman hit back with another point from a free but Clann were out playing, out passing and outscoring the opposition. It took Glassdrumman mid-way through the second half to register their first point from play, Harrison cutting in from the left to score from a tight angle.
Another point from play quickly followed as Glassdrumman looked to build momentum. Devlin again was winning the break ball in the middle of the park to set up more Clann attacks.
Conor Harrison was keeping Glassdrumman in the game with his free kick skills, adding another free from a tight angle. Glassdrumman were adding more pressure, which allowed the Clann to counter attack and Devlin to score another point from play.
Clann broke once again, with quick, interlinking passes that cut through the Glassdrumman defence, and Lunney was able to finish the attack off with a fisted point.
Gary Quinn and Matty Mallon were introduced with 10 minutes to go in a reshuffle of the forward line. Devlin scored his fifth point of the night from another free and Liam McGarry sealed the win with a first time shot that sailed over the bar.
Dean Lennon deputised well in full back marking county player Conor Harrison and limiting him to only two scores from play, with Devlin making his aerial and physical presence felt in the middle of the park and Alan McGrath providing an excellent outlet throughout in the forward line.
Next week Clann na Banna travel to Pairc Esler to play Damien Rafferty’s former club Newry Shamrocks.
Team: G.McGrath, L.Rooney, D.Lennon, A.Nelson, M.Fairburn, P.Feeney, S.McGarry, C.Lunney, L.Devlin, P.Burns, R.Hill, C.Lenaghan, A.McGrath, S.McArdle, L.McGarry
Subs: P.Bradley, S.Bradley, A.Downey, C.McCusker, T.Campbell, T.Fox, M.McEvoy, D.Brooker, G.Quinn, P.Gillen, C.Ryan, M.Mallon