By Gearoid Loughnane
Liam Mellows 0:09
Loughrea began this year’s championship campaign with a comfortable victory over a disappointing Liam Mellows outfit in Gort last Saturday. Loughrea started sluggishly and took all of seven minutes to get on the scoreboard with a Johnny Maher free cancelling out Tadhg Haran’s opening score. Jamie Ryan followed up with his first point of the day from a very acute angle to put Loughrea in the lead, a lead they would never relinquish. Paul Hoban, positioned in the half forward line throughout scored next for “the Town” his effort coming between two Mellows points from Niall McInerney and county man David Collins. Then last year’s county finalists who were aided by the wind in the opening thirty minutes then began to dominate, holding Mellows scoreless for the rest of the half. Johnny Maher converted two 65’s before wonderful interplay between Maher, captain Gavin Keary and Hoban set up Johnny Coen, now positioned at full forward, for a fine goal. Loughrea’s last score of the half came from a Johnny Maher free after a foul on Johnny Coen following brilliant defensive work from Damien McClearn. This left the half time score Loughrea 1:06 to Liam Mellows 3 points with the only sour note of the half being the injury to Emmet Mahony. Mahony picked up a leg injury after twenty minutes and had to be replaced by Stephen McCormack who put in a wonderful display marking Aonghus Callanan who also ironically just returned home from time in Australia.
Loughrea began the second half with serious intent and could have got in for an early goal only for a fabulous save from Mellows’ Michael Smith to deny Johnny Maher with Jamie Ryan’s follow up finding only the side netting. The second half was mainly point for point with Loughrea content to maintain their interval lead playing against the breeze. Maher got a fine point from play before Johnny Coen, now operating at midfield chipped in with his first of the day. Mellows made a double substitution, bringing in Jeffrey Lynskey and Adrian Morrissey to try and stem the tide and it worked to some extent with Tadhg Haran pointing frees in the eight and tenth minute of the second half. Maher responded with another free after a mazy run from Jamie Ryan. Ryan then got his second point with Neil Keary following up with a point to leave it 1:11 to 6 points. Mellows began to get desperate and this was evident in some poor shooting, indeed the city side were guilty of 12 wides during the hour. Haran however did keep the scoreboard ticking over for Mellows with three further scores, two frees but they never looked like scoring the all important goal to get them back in the game. The only chance of a goal they did have was from a free from Haran but Nigel Murray easily dealt with it, as he did with everything that came his way throughout the game. Maher completed his total of seven points with another placed ball with the classy Johnny Coen finishing the scoring with another point to leave the final score Loughrea 1:13 Liam Mellows 0:09. Loughrea had solid performances from Nigel Murray in goals, McClearn, Eoin Mahony, McCormack, Hoban, Coen, Ryan and top scorer Maher. Mellows best performers were Michael Smith, Sean Morrissey, Collins, Callanan and Niall McInerney. Tadhg Haran topped scored with 6points, 5 of those coming from frees.
Loughrea scorers: J Maher 0:07, J Coen 1:02, J Ryan 0:02, P Hoban 0:01, N Keary 0:01
Liam Mellows scorers: T Haran 0:06, N McInerney 0:02, D Collins 0:01
Loughrea: Nigel Murray, Tom Regan, Damien McClearn, Eoin Mahony, Peter Quinn, Sean Sweeney, Emmet Mahony ( Stephen McCormack ), Alan Cormican ( Stephen Creaven), Gavin Keary, Paul Hoban, Johnny Coen, Neil Keary, Jamie Ryan, Johnny Maher, Kenneth Colleran.
Liam Mellows: Michael Smith, Michael Conneely, Sean Morrissey, Dean Bruen, Eoghan Ryan, John Lee, Cathal Reilly, David Collins, Jack Hastings, Aonghus Callanan, Niall McInerney, Shane Minton (Eoghan Croaker), Conor Hynes ( Jeffery Lynskey), Tadhg Haran, John Hughes (Adrian Morrissey).
Referee: Kevin Egan