Junior B Football Championship Final
Éire Óg 2-8
By Kieran Murphy
IT has been four years in the making. Even longer. When push came to shove in the knock-out stages Asca were never able to get over the finishing line. Last year they were put to the sword by Old Leighlin in the final. The thought of losing two-in-a-row was a major driving force for them as they slowly but surely built up a 0-5 to 0-0 lead by the 20th minute in this junior B football championship final in Netwatch Cullen Park on Sunday.
Johnny Kavanagh’s brace of frees, two from play by Conor Byrne and an individual effort from John Dwyer had eased Asca forward.
As early as the eighth minute Éire Óg did well not to concede a goal when an outstretched defender’s boot saw the ball ricochet out. Then Brian Stenson dived full-length to stop another effort where he must have seen the ball late as it came at him through a melee of players. The Sky Blues were looking good.
Éire Óg had to settle for a David Kenny point but, with a supporting player in the clear on each side of him, he will probably reflect on a missed goal opportunity.
A goal did arrive. Not surprisingly it came to Asca as Fionn Kehoe took ownership of a high ball and deftly fed Brian Coogan. The corner forward’s finish was equally subtle and Stenson was beaten for the first time in the game.
At 1-7 to 0-5 in front at the interval Asca looked in command. Maybe they thought so themselves, but they left all their early good form in the dressing room at the break. A move involving four players saw Bernard Hennessy land a point for Éire Óg on 31 minutes. Then the cat jumped in on top of the Asca pigeons when the combination of a quick free and a patient David Kenny, who retained possession well when finding space, rattled the back of the Asca net.
Hennessy added another point to leave the minimum between the sides before Jimmy White settled Asca with a nice point from a difficult angle on the right.
The game was on a knife-edge at that point and it looked as if it was going to go down to the wire. Fortune favoured Asca when Conor O’Brien shot on goal was partially blocked. When the ball fell nicely for Fionn Kehoe he had time and space to knock the ball home past a wrong-footed Éire Óg defence.
Then disaster for the Teach Asca boys when James Ryan was red-carded for striking. Asca’s Johnny Kavanagh saw yellow for his part in the affair but now Éire Óg were down to 14.
They played well with the reduced numbers and Asca didn’t make their numerical advantage pay. Noel O’Reilly landed a good individual point for Asca but from there Éire Óg came at them.
A steady build up saw Myers shoot a lovely point. Then with the game deep in injury time, the same player chased a cause which many others might not have. With the ball running loose he just got his foot to the ball and nudged it past the advancing Joe O’Reilly.
Horror of horrors for Asca. Was history going to repeat itself where the Sky Blues got themselves into winning positions but were unable to see it out?
This time they out-manoeuvred Éire Óg at the kick-out and saw out the game without any more drama. Deserving winners for sure, but very relieved at the final whistle.
Asca: Joe O’Reilly; David O’Regan, Paul Lawler, Ollie Keating; Brendan Shortt, Conor O’Brien, Eoghan Evesson; Paul Murphy, John Dwyer (0-1); Gary Mulhall, John Kavanagh (0-3 frees), Conor Byrne (0-2); Jimmy White (0-1), Fionn Kehoe (1-0), Brian Coogan (1-1). Subs: Nigel Brady for Keating (47 mins), Noel O’Reilly (0-1) for Mulhall (57 mins), Kieran Kavanagh for Coogan (57 mins), Brian Hosey for Shortt (59 mins).
Éire Óg: Brian Stenson; Kyle Kenneally, Sean Dunne, Paul Barry; Gary O’Keeffe, James Ryan, Colm Griffin; Jason Murphy (0-1), Gary Powell; Leigh Callinan, David Kenny (1-1), Tomás Walsh; Conor Walsh (0-1), Paul Behan (0-1), Bernard Hennessy (0-3 0-2 frees). Subs: Cathal Myers (1-1) for O’Keeffe (36 mins), Marc Corcoran for Callinan (43 mins), Evan Dudley for T Walsh (47 mins), Shane Corcoran for Kenny (59 mins).
Referee: Patrick Murphy (Ballinkillen).