The first leg of the annual Rebel Shield took place yesterday evening in perfect conditions under lights at UCC Mardyke. In what was easily the most compoetitive game in this competitions history, both teams treated a sizeable crowd to a fantastic game of footy. UCC were selecting from a full compliment for the first time this year, and the Lions were bolstered by 7 CIT Saints to tie in with their new and experienced players. It had all the makings of a cracker, and delivered exactly that.
In the first quarter, UCC flew out of the starting blocks with a goal inside the first minute, and followed it with another – both courtesy of Shane Collins. James Daly had his mids functioning perfectly off his ruck work,and the pressure was relentless from each ball up. UCC showed that they are a well drilled outfit under the tutelage of Paul “Junior” Ryan and Ian Sull with 2 more goals, George Dwyer with a nice effort from play and Collins grabbing his 3rd, were dissected by a solitary goal for the Lions from Andrew O Neill. The Bombers backs were on top, well marshalled by Conor Beasley, and it looked like they were inpenetrable.
—1st Qtr score—
A few choice words must have come from returning Lions coach Chris O Brien, because the Lions were a different animal at the resumption. A switch in the ruck saw Chris Keegan get to grips and disrupt the UCC front-foot ball, and it freed up Luke Hickey to get on ball. This all paid immediate dividends with Conor O Halloran goaling around the body after strong work through the mids, and adding a second from a set shot. A third Lions goal for the Lions from Kristian O Sullivan reduced the gap to a point, but UCC rallied and peppered the Lions backline. Only for the stern work of Conor Whyte and Oisin Fitzpatrick, UCC would have had more than just a behind to show for their efforts.
Championship quarter lived up to it’s name, with both sides refusing to budge. 4 goals were traded one after the other, Kieren O Reilly getting UCC up and running again, only to be followed by a goal from Lions new-comer Brian O Shea. Immediately after that UCC goaled after quick thinking and smart footy from Liam Dineen and Cathal Curran setup Brian Kennelly for a nicely taken goal. Again, the Lions replied witha self made goal from James “Enzo” O Callaghan, and it looked to continue that way for the forseeable future.
The Lions then kicked into gear,stepped up the tempo, and began to dominate. James O Shea switched infield from the wing to great effect, and linked up continually with Ian O Callaghan in the forwards. The Lions reaped the rewards with 2 more goals,an only for some wayward kicking they could have been out of sight.
—3 Qtr time score—
The final quarter lent itself to an open game, UCC putting paid to their oatient build up play in favour of fast footy as they chased down a 2 goal Lions lead. The Lions defence held strong though, Conor Whyte again to the fore, Paul Murph an ever present, and Jerry Cronin & Shane Sull showing the calmness and skill that has seen them become major cogs in the Lions wheel.
With the Bombers committing players forward, the Lions exposed the gaps at the other end. Tom Marnell’s workrate in the mids lightened the burden on his teammates and they capitalised with 2 goals from David Horgan and Hally -his third – to finish out worthy winners of a great game of footy. As it stands, with only 2 or 3 kicks of a sherrin between the teams, the second round is sure to be a cracker!
3 – Conor O Halloran
2 – Ian O Callaghan
1 – Brian O Shea
3 – Liam Dineen
2 – James Daly
1 – Conor Beasley