Despite an opening point from Tommy Walsh within 20 seconds, we largely played second fiddle to a Castleisland Desmonds side who wind and rain assisted, dominated the first half of this tie to go in at half time, 2-06 to 0-04 ahead.
We lined out as selected but positionally had David Moran at centre forward with Tom Hoare and Diarmuid O’Sullivan at midfield and Shane McElligott on the wing.
Desmonds were sharp, savvy in possession and looked to have more pre season work done than we did; they defended in numbers, often had 13/14 behind the ball blocking the middle with bodies and then transitioning quickly when in possession.
They had green flags in the 5th & 15th minutes with lively wing forward Tomás Lynch scoring one and being heavily involved in the other.
Our response was a return of 3 points, one from Seán Walsh and two from David Moran, one from play and a free. Desmonds made full use of the breeze with goalkeeper Stephen Bartlett twice coming up to pop over long range frees.
The second half saw us resume with David in the middle and the introduction of Karl Mullins and Daniel Bowler - we knocked over 4 points and saw 3 wides accrue before Desmonds had their first point of the 2nd half, on the 20th minute when Bartlett again split the posts from a free.
We continued to dominate with some great runs from deep by Ross and Ben Hanafin but the elusive goal we craved was not forthcoming, Bartlett with a great save from Tommy in the 16th minute, after a fine team move, with the resultant “45” going harmlessly wide.
Shortly after, we lost Ben Hanafin and Stephen Nix to injury with Desmonds notching only their 2nd point of the second half in the 28th minute - we continued to probe and the much sought after goal arrived following a bout of sharp interpassing with Conor Hayes finding the corner of the net; another goalmouth scramble resulted in a “45” which, with the clock in the red, was sent sailing between the posts by Diarmuid O’Sullivan - there was one final play, the margin was 2 points but the kick out was gathered by a Castleisland man and the referee blew for full time.
The long lay off since the All Ireland semi final was very much in evidence in the first half especially, where our match sharpness was lacking as evidenced by the kicking of 10 wides, four of which came from placed balls, plus 2 shots dropping into the arms of the goalie.
We are down a good number of bodies and it will take time for the younger members like Ben Hanafin,Jake Foley, Stephen Nix, Conor O’Sullivan, Darragh O’Connor and Daniel Bowler to bed in - all performed credibly today but unfortunate injuries to Ben & Stephen may rule them out of upcoming games.
Desmonds will be happy with their win and will, if continuing in this vein of form,be a match for most sides at this level.
Scorers: Conor Hayes ( 1-01), David Moran ( 0-03), Diarmuid O’Sullivan (0-02), Tommy Walsh, Tom Hoare & Seán Walsh ( 0-01) each.
Team: Shane Foley, Jake Foley, Ross O’Callaghan, Stephen Nix, Ben Hanafin, Ryan Carroll, Darragh McElligott, David Moran, Tom Hoare, Seán Walsh, Shane McElligott, Diarmuid O’Sullivan, Darragh O’Connor, Tommy Walsh, Conor Hayes.
Subs: Daniel Bowler, Karl Mullins, Seán Collins, Conor O’Sullivan and Padraig Griffin.