Classy Knock­na­gree

Irish Examiner - County - - Front page - John Tar­rant

Knock­na­gree cel­e­brate Al­lIre­land ju­nior club cham­pi­onship vic­tory.

MAG­NIF­I­CENT Knock­na­gree bounced into the lime­light on se­cur­ing AIB All Ire­land JAFC ac­co­lades af­ter pow­er­ing past a brave Mul­ty­farn­ham in Croke Park on Satur­day.

The Duhal­low side de­served their vic­tory and they did so with a pow­er­fully struc­tured dis­play which proved too much for the Westmeath com­bi­na­tion who ral­lied to the fin­ish and gained some con­so­la­tion with a pair of in­jury time goals. On the day, Knock­na­gree looked by far the bet­ter side, show­ing more com­po­sure in their play and cru­cially more scor­ing op­tions.

A sweet win for a Cork club, af­ter a spell of Kerry dom­i­nance, Knock­na­gree laid a bar­ren decade to rest to be­come the first Cork team to win an elu­sive cham­pi­onship since Canovee’s mem­o­rable tri­umph from 2008. Apart from brief spells and know­ing they had their hands on the Cup en­ter­ing 5 min­utes of in­jury time, Knock­na­gree looked the more for­mi­da­ble side and played com­fort­ably within them­selves.

In­deed, Knock­na­gree laid the foun­da­tion for vic­tory in the open­ing half, their greater en­ergy and more po­tent for­ward unit grabbed key div­i­dends to en­joy a nine points in­ter­val ad­van­tage. At key stages, Knock­na­gree owed much to a com­pe­tent de­fence with ‘keeper Pa Doyle pro­duc­ing two won­der saves, they dic­tated mid­field in ad­di­tion to their at­tack de­liv­er­ing ter­rific scores.

Knock­na­gree made the early run­ning, straight from the throw in, Padraig Collins turned over pos­ses­sion, em­bark­ing on a solo to fire over a morale boost­ing point. Mov­ing with pur­pose, the Knock­na­gree hope­fuls utilised the ball in a con­struc­tive man­ner, Eoghan McSweeney and John F Daly punched over neat points.

Steadily Mul­ty­farn­ham at­tempted to cre­ate in­roads, full for­ward, Max Brady proved the main con­trib­u­tor from both play and frees. Still Knock­na­gree op­er­ated in a much more con­vinc­ing man­ner, ben­e­fit­ing from the in­flu­ence of play any­where Michael Ma­honey along with Gary O’Con­nor and Karl Daly in de­fence, Don­agh Moyni­han and Collins held con­trol at mid­field while in at­tack, Daly, James Den­nehy, Matthew Dil­worth and Fin­tan O’Con­nor were reg­u­larly on the ball.

And Knock­na­gree’s hopes soared in a dou­ble goal boost mid­way through the open­ing half, Ma­hony man mark­ing a sweeper was heav­ily in­volved, the in­sti­ga­tor for the open­ing three flag for Dil­worth to set up Fin­tan O’Con­nor for a sweet goal. It got bet­ter, Ma­hony tak­ing a pass from Eoghan McSweeney showed cool­ness be­yond his ten­der years to net from close range for a clear 2-4 to 0-2 ad­van­tage.

In fair­ness, Mul­ty­farn­ham at­tempted to take the wind out of the Knock­na­gree sails, close to a goal, Doyle blocked su­perbly and de­fender Karl Daly was happy to con­cede a point With O’Con­nor and McSweeney ad- ding points to strengthen Knock­na­gree’s po­si­tion, they were again thank­ful to Doyle on a great stop from Brady to al­low Knock­na­gree en­joy a 2-8 to 0-5 grip at the break. On the restart, the Knock­na­gree de­fence shep­herded the Mul­ty­farn­ham at­tack into cul de sacs to main­tain a key dom­i­nance.

How­ever team cap­tain David Wal­lace of­fered hope for the Lake County at the three quar­ter stage at the end of a en­ter­pris­ing move to goal. A run of yel­low cards for Knock­na­gree saw An­thony O’Con­nor side­lined yet they en­joyed a stroke of good luck, af­ter Daly won a 45, Doyle’s 45 threaded a path to the roof of the Mul­ty­farn­ham net.

The game was ef­fec­tively over now but as Knock­na­gree switched off dur­ing the lat­ter stages, Multy failed to sur­ren­der and availed of their nu­mer­i­cal ad­van­tage, sub­sti­tute Mark Fal­lon pounced for two stop­page time goals to ease the pain at the full time whis­tle. There was no stop­ping Knock­na­gree and their vo­cal fans vented their ap­proval af­ter cap­tain Matthew Dil­worth lifted the sil­ver­ware.

Pic­ture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Knock­na­gree play­ers cel­e­brate with the cup af­ter dur­ing the AIB GAA Foot­ball All-Ire­land Ju­nior Club Cham­pi­onship Fi­nal win against Mul­ty­farn­ham at Croke Park.

Pic­ture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Pa­trick Doyle, Knock­na­gree, right, and Paul O’Con­nor, cel­e­brate af­ter the Ju­nior Club Cham­pi­onship win over Mul­ty­farn­haman.

Pic­ture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Knock­na­gree cap­tain Matthew Dil­worth lifts the cup af­ter the AIB GAA Foot­ball All-Ire­land Ju­nior Club Cham­pi­onship fi­nal.

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