2003-Junior B success

Junior ’B’ success

28 May 2004

Caulry’s capture of the junior ’B’ football crown helped to erase the memories of a disappointing intermediate championship campaign according to Peter Rigney, who was a selector with both teams.

Despite struggling to find their feet in the intermediate ranks, 2003 was by no means a poor year for Caulry who were buoyed by their capture of the junior ’B’ championship.

A 0-13 to 0-5 victory over neighbours Ballymore provided a successful conclusion to a year which had many ups and downs for the Mount Temple men. After winning the junior championship with an exceptionally young team in 2002, Caulry appeared capable of ruffling a few feathers on their return to the intermediate ranks, but the unavailability of a number of key players meant that they struggled for the most part.

However, the success of the junior ’B’ team ensures that Caulry will be going into the new season in a positive frame of mind.
“From a morale point of view, it was an important win for us,” says Peter Rigney, who was a selector with both the intermediate and junior ’B’ teams.

“The intermediate championship didn’t go as well for us as we had hoped, but we had better luck in the junior ’B’ championship and to win it out was a great boost for the club. By and large, it was a young team with a good number of them having also played for the intermediate team last year,” he adds.

Under the management of John Higgins, Caulry played five games en route to winning the junior ’B’ championship. They opened their campaign with a 4-6 to 1-8 victory over Ballynacargy. Playing on their home patch, Ballynacargy dominated the early stages and should have been more than 0-4 to 0-0 in front at the end of the first quarter.

Caulry eventually opened their account in the 17th minute when Peter Smyth pointed and within a minute, they were on level terms thanks to a Anslem Fitzgerald penalty. Ballynacargy replied with a point, but Caulry finished the half with further scores by Conor Allen and Eoin Moriarty to lead by 1-4 to 0-5 at the interval.

The Mount Temple men took a firm grip on proceedings in the third quarter when Kevin Curley and Fitzgerald both found the net. A Ballynacargy goal in the 47th minute left just three points between the sides, but the visitors steadied the ship to run out comfortable winners.

Caulry needed two outings to see off the challenge of an experienced Milltownpass side in the quarter-final. In the drawn game at Mount Temple, a third minute goal from Alan Rigney helped the home side to a 1-5 to 0-4 lead at the break. But Milltownpass improved substantially in the second half and succeeded in forcing extra-time.

Two points from Anslem Fitzgerald looked like giving Caulry victory until Milltownpass scored a last gasp point to level matters, 1-8 to 0-11. The replay was expected to be another close affair, but Caulry were the better side throughout and were full value for their 2-13 to 1-10 victory.

Shandonagh, who had former Dublin star and current Roscommon manager Tommy Carr in their ranks, provided the semi-final opposition at Mount Temple. Shandonagh led by 0-2 to 0-1 after 15 minutes, but an Alan Rigney goal, followed by points from Kevin Curley and John Smyth, gave Caulry a 1-4 to 0-4 interval lead.
Further daylight was put between the sides on the restart when Anslem Fitzgerald and Alan Rigney tagged on points. Fitzgerald put the result beyond all doubt when he converted a penalty near the end to give the red and whites a 2-8 to 0-6 win.

Hogan Park in Moate was the venue for the final on October 26. Having won the intermediate championship a few weeks earlier, Ballymore went into the game on a high, but from an early stage it became apparent that Caulry were a vastly superior team.
The Mount Temple men made their intentions clear when Willie Buckley and Peter Rigney registered early points. Francis Eivers then got Ballymore off the mark, but further efforts from Conor Allen, Rigney and John Smyth had Caulry perched on a 0-5 to 0-2 lead at the break.

A Vinny McCormack point reduced the deficit to two points just after the resumption before unanswered scores from Allen, Alan Rigney and Peter Rigney gave Caulry a six-point cushion.

The game was now slipping from Ballymore’s reach, but they gave themselves a fighting chance when substitute Stephen Rooney and Vinny McCormack picked off points. Caulry, however, were not to be denied as Allen, Willie Buckley and Simon Keegan tagged on points to seal an eight-point victory.

“We were delighted with the win, especially as our defeat in the 2001 final was still fresh in people’s minds,” comments Rigney, whose sons Peter jnr and Alan were integral members of the Caulry attack.

“We seemed to have a better turnout for training in the second half of the year and that obviously worked to the advantage of the junior ’B’ team. As in 2002 when we won the junior championship, the St. Brigid’s tournament in Kiltoom was a big help to us in terms of preparation. Without it, we would have been very rusty going into the semi-final and final which were both played late in the year.

“I would say the key game in the campaign was the semi-final against Shandonagh in Mount Temple. They were physically stronger than us and put us under a lot of pressure in the early stages. But we then got a goal against the run of play and that set us up for an easy win.”

Caulry’s hopes of making an impact on the intermediate championship were badly hit by the unavailability of Gary Flanagan, Leo Fallon and Eddie Egan, all of whom spent the summer in the US, while Mark Dolan missed most of the season through injury. If that wasn’t bad enough, David Hatton and Enda Murphy announced their retirements after the 2002 junior championship success.

Despite their problems, Caulry made an encouraging start to the campaign when they drew with Kilbeggan Shamrocks, 2-7 to 0-13. But that was followed by defeats to Maryland (1-9 to 1-13) and Ballinagore (3-6 to 3-10) before their only win of the championship was secured at the expense of Mullingar Shamrocks (0-13 to 0-10).

In their final two outings, Caulry lost to Rosemount (1-7 to 2-13) and Ballymore (0-8 to 0-11) respectively, but still avoided the relegation play-offs because of changes to the championship structures.
Looking ahead to this year’s intermediate championship, Rigney - who is also a well-known referee - expects Caulry to be much improved on last season.

“If we have everyone available and fellas are prepared to put their minds to it, we could win the championship. The ability is there, it’s just a question of whether or not the commitment is there also.
“Galway man Ger Reilly has taken over as intermediate manager from Noel Kelly and he comes with a big reputation, having done very well during his time in charge of Rhode. Paidi O Se’s arrival has given football in the county a big lift and hopefully his presence will drive our lads onto achieving greater things in the year ahead,” he concludes. 

The Caulry team which captured the junior ’B’ championship was: TJ Dunning; Johnny Buckley, Nicky Killane, Brian Muldoon; Mark Malone, Brian Mullarney (captain), Simon Keegan; Anslem Fitzgerald, Conor Allen; Ernie Buckley, Willie Buckley, Peter Smyth; Peter Rigney, Alan Rigney, John Smyth. Subs used: Damien Dowd and Damien Keenan. Unavailable were: Derek Cassells, Eoin Moriarty, Michael Slater, Ross Allen, Gary Walker and Colm Fox.

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