Round Tower 0-11 v Skerries Harps 0-8 (Niall Connaughton’s match pictures can be viewed here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/roundtowers/sets/72157632848738456/). Report by Mick McGlynn
A year ago, our senior footballers opened their league account with a narrow loss when they travelled to North County Dublin to play Skerries Harps. It was a reversal of fortunes for both sides opening AFL2 fixture this year, as on this occasion the visitors from North Dublin travelled home with no points.
Impressive performances from newcomers Gary Cleary in goal and Jason Phllips in full forward bolstered the panel of players that grew in strength throughout the 2012 season and were unfortunate to lose out on promotion to AFL1 after play-off final defeat to Raheny last November.
The visitors started and finished the game stronger but Towers were deserving of the victory, with Phillips in particular causing numerous problems for the Harps full back line and Ian Ward and Jamie McCarthy at centre and full-back leading by example in proving resolute defensively, while young Cleary was a commanding presence in goal.
Harps were a point ahead within two minutes when former Dublin Under 21 footballer Colin Daly, who started in the left corner and whose height and strength caused problems for Towers throughout, fielded a high ball to kick the opening score. A Ciaran Corrigan free from the right side levelled for Towers four minutes later but Daly pointed again for Harps, as the movement of their forwards caused problems for the home sides defence. Corrigan again restored parity when he scored again from a free after a move involving Jason Joyce, Phillips and Barry Gallagher resulted in the latter being fouled. A potential Skerries goal was denied when the referee adjudged holding by Daly but they pointed from the resulting play. Daly then pointed again to leave Skerries two ahead but Towers began winning breaking ball around midfield and were efficient with their return in front of the posts.
Gallagher won a scrappy ball and after an interchange with Simon McGuinness, Ian Ward kicked from distance to reduce the deficit to a point. From the resulting kick out half-back Brian Costello kicked a long-range score and Jason Joyce then scored his first, with Gallagher again providing an assist. Derek Murray then pointed from long range to see the home side turn around a two point deficit. Daly and Dublin footballer Bryan Cullen both kicked wides before half-time and the home side went in with 6-4 ahead.
Former Dublin minor and Under 21 footballer Donnacha O’Reilly quickly opened the scoring for Skerries in the second half but Towers responded when Phillips, who won ball in the inside forward line consistently throughout, was fouled and Corrigan punished the visitors. Ian Ward dispossessed to find Gallagher, whose pass to Corrigan was pointed and Gallagher edged Towers further ahead from distance, following good work from Eoin Young in defence and Joyce in the half forwards. A quick free from Joyce found Ward in space to point and Towers now had a five point lead with ten minutes remaining. But the visitors responded strongly and kicked three unanswered points to leave just two in it. A kickable free would have brought just a point between the sides but it dropped short. Towers nerved were frayed but calm play in injury time from Stephen Halpin, Ward and Gallagher set up Joyce to kick the games final score.
Round Tower: Gary Cleary, Barry Keane, Jamie McCarthy, Eoin Young, James Kelly, Ian Ward, Brian Costello, Stephen Halpin, Derek Murray, Jason Joyce, Simon McGuinness, Liam Connolly, Barry Gallagher, Jason Phillips, Ciaran Corrigan. Subs: Tom Lyons for Costello, Eoghan Moore for Connolly, Paddy Stynes for Murray.