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2010 - Clarke lifts Caulry to new heights

Clarke lifts Caulry to new heights

30 April 2011

While Caulry's run to the last-four of last year's intermediate championship surprised many, it didn't surprise their manager Brendan Clarke who believes the best is yet to come for his talented young side. 

One of the most improved teams in Westmeath football last year was Caulry. Building on their 2009 junior championship success, the Mount Temple/Baylin outfit marked their return to the intermediate championship with an unexpected run to the semi-finals where they lost to champions-elect Bunbrosna.
Should anyone have been surprised, though? For the past decade, Caulry have had one of the best underage structures in the county and have been producing young players of the highest quality. When Athlone Community College won the Leinster Colleges SF 'A' championship in 2008, Caulry had five players on the starting team - Joe McMahon, Declan Donohue, Ben Moran, Alan Fitzpatrick and Robbie Kenny. They were also represented by Kevin Maguire, Ben Moran and Alan Fitzpatrick on the Westmeath under 21 team which contested last year's Leinster final against Dublin.
"Some people were surprised by how well we did last year, but there was nothing surprising about it as far as the players were concerned. They've come up through a successful underage system, they've played on successful colleges and county teams, so they always expect a lot from themselves," Caulry manager Brendan Clarke says.
"They are a very young side who will only get better in the coming years. They were a pleasure to work with last year and I'm looking forward to working with them again in 2011. They would have learned a lot from last season," he adds.
Ferbane man Clarke, who assumed the managerial reins from Padraig Moran at the start of last season, and was assisted by selectors Jody Malynn and Kevin Connaughton (who is the club's minor board secretary), got his reign off to the best possible start when Caulry edged out arch rivals Moate All-Whites in their championship opener at Pairc Chiarain.

It looked like Moate would repeat their 2008 victory over their neighbours when Niall Mackey's early goal helped them to a 1-2 to 0-0 lead after just eight minutes, but Caulry hit back with a goal from Robbie Kenny and went on to lead by 1-6 to 1-5 at the break thanks to an Alan Fitzpatrick free.
Further points from Fitzpatrick and Damien Dolan extended Caulry's advantage on the restart, only for Moate to retake the lead through a hat-trick of points from Mackey. The sides were level going into injury-time when Eoin Grennan kicked a last-gasp point to give the Mount Temple men a famous 1-11 to 1-10 victory.
Another one-point victory over Shandonagh had Caulry on full points after two rounds. After trailing by 0-4 to 0-5 at the interval, Brendan Clarke's charges stepped on the gas in the second half and points from Johnny Buckley, Johnny Dolan, John Maguire and Alan Fitzpatrick had them four ahead before Alan Hickey netted a late penalty for Shandonagh to leave just the minimum between the sides, 0-9 to 1-5, at full-time.
Bunbrosna were the only team to beat the Mount Temple men in last year's championship, recording the first of two wins at a rain-soaked Shandonagh. Bun' dominated the first half to lead by 0-6 to 0-1 at half-time, but Caulry scored five points without reply from Peter Smyth (four) and substitute Alan Carroll to level proceedings with 20 minutes to go. However, they failed to score again as Bun' pulled clear for a 0-10 to 0-7 victory.
Caulry got back to winning ways when they accounted for Kilbeggan Shamrocks by 3-7 to 1-10 in Moate. A Peter Smyth penalty helped the red and whites to a 1-3 to 0-4 interval lead, and they put themselves firmly in the driving seat when John Maguire added a second goal within 30 seconds of the restart. But Kilbeggan came back strongly to open up a two-point lead before substitute Philip Dully blasted a third goal to finally settle it for Caulry.
The Mount Temple club sealed their place in the knockout stages courtesy of a 2-8 to 0-14 draw with Ballynacargy at Lakepoint Park. Caulry looked set to claim another notable scalp when goals from Peter Smyth and substitute Anselm Fitzgerald had them 2-8 to 0-8 ahead with 10 minutes remaining, but Ballynacargy kicked six unanswered points in a frenetic finale to earn a share of the spoils.

Caulry's biggest win of the year came against south county rivals Tang in a cracking quarter-final at Moate's Hogan Park. Despite an early goal from John Maguire, Caulry trailed by 0-9 to 1-4 at the break, but they battled back to restore parity in the second half. Trevor English then nudged Tang back in front before Peter Smyth won a penalty with two minutes remaining and kept his composure to slot home Caulry's second goal which gave them a dramatic 2-9 to 0-13 victory.

Back-to-back junior and intermediate championship successes were now being spoken of in Mount Temple, but Bunbrosna had other ideas and ended Caulry's 2010 adventure with a decisive 2-14 to 1-10 win at Cusack Park.
The Longford-border outfit laid the foundations for their victory in the first half when they outscored Brendan Clarke's men by 1-8 to 0-2. Andrew Whitney had a point after just 45 seconds and while Peter Smyth and Alan Fitzpatrick responded with scores for Caulry, Bun' completely dominated the remainder of the half with Brian Maguire's goal helping them to a nine-point lead at the break. 
A Finian Newman goal early in the second half effectively ended the game as a contest, though Caulry battled to the end and were rewarded with an Alan Fitzpatrick goal.
"Bunbrosna had been senior for a few years and that experience stood to them," recalls former Offaly selector Clarke, whose impressive management CV includes Westmeath SFC wins with Athlone in 1988 and '98, and Offaly IFC triumphs with Belmont and St. Rynagh's.
"But overall, it was a very good year for Caulry. We got a bit of momentum behind us and carried that through to the semi-final. It will be more difficult this year now that we've lost the element of surprise, but the lads are a year older and wiser and will be looking to build on last year."

Caulry competed strongly at underage level once again in 2010 with the under 16s going all the way to the Division 1 championship final. However, they had to settle for second best against an impressive Athlone outfit who prevailed on a 0-14 to 0-7 scoreline.
Managed by Tommy Woods, Michael McMahon, Ger Carroll, Ivor Brooks, Brian Mullarney and Thomas Ledwith, the Caulry boys were slow to settle and went into the break trailing by 0-2 to 0-7.
But they came out with all guns blazing for the second half, scoring three unanswered points to leave just two between the sides. However, two pointed frees from Ray Connellan steadied Athlone and they finished strongly to take the title.

In December, Caulry hosted the annual county convention in Mount Temple and were widely praised for their handling of this prestigious event.  

Caulry lined out as follows in their IFC quarter-final victory over Tang: Joe McMahon; Johnny Buckley, Kevin Maguire, Brian Mullarney; Damien Dolan, Ben Moran, Michael Donohue; Gary Flanagan, Robbie Kenny; Keith McMenamin, Alan Fitzpatrick, Ernie Buckley; Johnny Dolan, Peter Smyth, John Maguire. Subs used: Mark Fitzpatrick and Pat Buckley. 

The Caulry team which lost the under 16 Division 1 championship final to Athlone was: Michael Carroll; Shane Parker, Michael McMahon, Darren O'Connor; Tom Doyle, Owen Donoghue, James Pettit; Sean Doyle, Evan Roarke; Stephen Woods, Robert Hickey, Andrew O'Sullivan; David Brooks, Gavin Shortall, Ben Kenny. Subs: Niall Killane and Henry Hughes.