O’Toole saves the day for Kiltegan
Kiltegan 0-10, Ballinacor 0-10: Super sub Christy O’Toole, the hero of many great battles on the football and hurling fields of Wicklow, was back where he belongs again on Sunday, writes Peter Keogh. JAFC SEMI-FINAL It was his point deep in injury-time that saved the day for Kiltegan in the semi-finals of the Junior A football championship at Arklow.
This match was balanced on a knife edge for most of the way. The scorers were level five times in all but the men from Glenmalure has started to pull away in the last quarter.
With just two minutes left on the clock Ballinacor were three points up and looking all set for the final.
Kiltegan manager Ciarán O’Toole had introduced former Senior star Christy O’Toole five minutes from time and he was starting to make his presence felt. With a minute to go he was instrumental in winning a free which Keith Furlong pointed. On the stroke of the hour Lorcan Byrne broke the Ballyinacor cover again to win another free and Furlong again did the needful.
Kiltegan won one more free but not in scoring range. Adrian Keogh pumped it in to the goal mouth where Christy O’Toole fielded and swung it left footed over the bar.
It was a fitting enough end to a great battle and everyone bar fixtures boss Mick Hagan was happy with the result.
Adrian Keogh had opened the scoring with a long-range point for Kiltegan but Declan Green levelled a minute later and Ger Byrne gave Ballinacor the lead for the first time.
Kiltegan’s man of the match Keith Furlong levelled the game for a second time with the first of his seven points in the sixth minute.
Kiltegan hit their best spell of the match in the next ten minutes; Blaine Harmon and James Whelan were winning a lot of ball in the middle and Furlong pointed a free for a foul on Stephen Farrell and when the referee moved a long-range free forward for descent Furlong pointed again. Darren Hobson had the point of the match from out near the side line and Furlong pointed another free. Entering the second quarter Kiltegan were leading by double scores – 0-6 to 03 – Ronan Phelan get- ting the other Ballinacor point.
Kevin Byrne got his team revved up again and they dominated the last ten minutes of the half. Conor Parsons, Tony Byrne and Ger Byrne all landed points to level the game again – 0-6 each – at half-time.
From the start of the second-half Ballinacor were getting a firm grip on the exchanges but were finding scores hard to come by against a strong Kiltegan defence where John Byrne, Jim Bob Dalton and Shaun Byrne were outstanding.
Conor Parsons edged them ahead with a point in the first minute but Keith Furlong levelled the game once more.
Tony Byrne ended fifteen scoreless minutes when he pointed a free and inside two minutes Ronan Phelan and Ger Byrne had landed longrange points and the men from Glenmalure were three points up and cruising. However, that Byrne point in the 18th minute was to prove their last score.
However, Christy Murphy, Paddy Byrne and Michael Dowling were starring in the Ballinacor half-back line and were cutting out every Kiltegan attack.
Another ten minutes passed without a score for either side. That all changed when manager Ciarán O’Toole sprung Christy O’Toole from the bench. The big fellow started to win possession where Kiltegan had been weakest; Denis Hayes and Lorcan Byrne stormed into the game and Ballinacor were on the back foot – and not liking it. Kiltegan got the draw and lived to fight another day.
The midfield battle between Paul Cullen and Danny Dowling on the one hand and Blaine Harmon and James Whelan on the other was mostly inconclusive.
Kiltegan: Ned Doyle; Jim Bob Dalton, John Byrne, Nigel Nolan; Lorcan Byrne, Denis Hayes, Ciarán Doyle; Blaine Harmon, James Whelan; Dan Kearney, Adrain Keogh ( 0- 1), Shaun Byrne; Keith Furlong (0-7), Darren Hobson (0-1), Stephen Farrell. Subs. – Fergal Farrell for Doyle; Christy O’Toole ( 0- 1) for Farrell; Emmet Murphy for Whelan.
Ballinacor: James Byrne; Peter Byrne, Chris Kennedy, Ciarán O’Neill; Chris Murphy, Paddy Byrne, Michael Dowling; Paul Cullen, Daniel Dowling; Ronan Phelan ( 0- 2), Tony Byrne (0-2), Declan Green (0-1); Conor Parsons ( 0- 2), Colin Byrne, Ger Byrne (0-3).
Referee: Liam (Hollywood).