Minor B Football Championship Final
Mount Leinster Rangers 1-7
By Kieran Murphy
SUPERIOR football craft and an ability to take their chances saw Clonmore lift the minor B football championship in Netwatch Cullen Park on Saturday.
Sometimes games can swing on either one incident or a combination of happenings and the latter reason is the why Clonmore deservedly ended up as champions.
Two minutes in a Francie Whelan free nudged the eventual winners into the lead. Then they got lucky. A high ball into the small square at the outside pitch end of the ground caused major problems. What should have been a routine fetch by keeper Melvyn Kinch was not executed properly and play fell nicely for an onrushing forward.
With the ball sitting on the goal line, all it needed was a touch from an onrushing forward. No-one got there but one forward fell over the outstretched hand of the keeper. A definite penalty but was Kinch set to receive a black-card?
Presumably that what was on the referee Martin ‘Sparks’ Murphy’s mind when he consulted with his umpire. The goalkeeper survived to face Jon Nolan. That was a massive call by the officials.
To the horror of the Rangers corner forward, he shot tamely and wide of the left-hand upright. Clonmore had dodged a bullet and made good their escape when a lovely passing movement put in Whelan for his second point.
Ben Bolger got Rangers off the mark with a point on 15 minutes but Clonmore upped their game. After a sluggish start their passing was crisp and precise. Both Tom Pollard and Whelan lofted over points from play. Ciaran Kavanagh and Bolger replied and with only three minutes to the break Clonmore led by a point.
The green and red clad side’s ability to make the correct decisions proved vital in the closing stages of the second half when an exchange of passes between Whelan and Pollard saw the former punch home from close range. Another Whelan point saw the Wicklow-border side slip into a 1-5 to 0-3 interval lead.
They could have extended their advantage early in the second half when Eoin Byrne went for goal from close range, but the ball rolled narrowly wide. Rangers substitute Dean Tobin almost produced the ultimate but he fired over when a three-pointer would have been a real tonic. Shortly afterwards Pollard added another Clonmore point. Jon Nolan scored a fine individual point for Rangers but Clonmore continued to look the more likely as Whelan set up another score for Pollard.
Then came the moment on 42 minutes which all but decided the final. A speculative shot for a point hit the right-hand upright and fell into the alert hands of Sean Tompkins. In the act of pulling the trigger he was taken down. This time Eoin Byrne buried the spot-kick and Clonmore were flying.
A Jake Hickey point put them nine points up but with defeat facing them, Rangers put in a great last-quarter rally.
Dean Tobin and Darragh O’Toole both pointed and with five minutes to go Tobin scored his side’s only goal to leave four points between them. In response, Whelan steadied Clonmore nerves with a free. His last point also from a placed ball was the icing on the cake.
There was no way back for Rangers. The best team won. Rangers might not totally agree, but neutrals were in agreement it was good to see a bit of silverware travelling over to the Hacketstown area.
Clonmore: Melvyn Kinch; Sean Tompkins, Cormac Connolly, Rory McKiernan; Cormac Malee, Josh Bowes, Rory Maguire; Luke Connolly, Sean Daly (0-1); Tom Pollard (0-2), Eoin Byrne (1-1 1-0 pen), Jake Hickey (0-1); Matt Cullen, Francis Whelan (1-5, 0-3 frees), Luke Mullen. Subs: Billy Lawlor for Malee (21 mins), Dylan Doyle for Hickey (50 mins).
Mount Leinster Rangers: Jack Flood; Sean Murphy, James Kavanagh, Bernard Scully; Jack Ryan, Colm Malone, James Quinn; Darragh O’Toole (0-1), Rory Joyce; Ciaran Kavanagh (0-1), Tony Lawlor, Niall Canning; Ben Bolger (0-2), Jack Foley, Jon Nolan (0-1). Subs: Matthew Kavanagh for Ryan (28 mins), Dean Tobin (1-2) for Quinn (h/t), Eoin Fenlon for C Kavanagh (h/t), Pauric Coleman for Malone (63 mins).
Referee: Martin Murphy (Tinryland)