Fi­nal spot se­cured

Ki­lanerin over­come hor­rific start

New Ross Standard - - SPORT - DEAN GOODISON

KI­LANERIN ST. MARY’S

DE­SPITE AN hor­rific start against St. Mary’s of Rochfort­bridge, Ki­lanerin bossed their way into the AIB Le­in­ster Club In­ter­me­di­ate foot­ball cham­pi­onship fi­nal in Páirc Uí Shíocháin, Gorey, on Satur­day.

The Wex­ford champs got caught cold by two goals in the open­ing nine minutes and, in truth, could have been even fur­ther be­hind, but they stuck to their game­plan, played with great in­ten­sity in dif­fi­cult con­di­tions, and even­tu­ally got what they de­served.

As op­posed to the poor, bro­ken fare on of­fer seven days ear­lier against Ra­heens, both sides looked to play foot­ball in this game and it def­i­nitely suited the hosts. They moved the ball with pur­pose, com­pletely com­fort­able with what they wanted to achieve.

That’s all well and good but, at this stage of the sea­son, you’d bet­ter have plenty in the tank. Ki­lanerin might not be as youth­ful as some sides - they have a smat­ter­ing of all ages, a good mix - but they are clearly well pre­pared and they sol­diered on re­lent­lessly like a group of Mi­nors.

Ini­tial signs were good, as Dean O’Toole lofted one high and hand­some strike just over the cross­bar in­side 40 sec­onds, but their op­po­nents had clearly shaken off the cob­webs from their long trip south in the warm-up.

Just mo­ments later they at­tacked through Ian Kee­lan. He looked to go long to Paul Carey and was suc­cess­ful. The Rochfort­bridge at­tacker was tum­bled over with a nudge in the back and the vis­i­tors had a penalty.

Eoin Gorman took on the re­spon­si­bil­ity but dragged his left-footed strike a lit­tle. It wasn’t clean and, even had it went the right side of the post, Tom Hughes, who was down early and go­ing the cor­rect way, prob­a­bly would have made the save.

Still, they didn’t dwell on that miss. Dwayne Leavy robbed pos­ses­sion high up the field and was away. He found Gorman, and the at­tacker’s point at­tempted clat­tered the met­al­work be­fore fall­ing kindly to Kee­lan who found the net at the sec­ond at­tempt.

Buoyed by the loud trav­el­ling sup­port, St. Mary’s sensed blood. Colin Gavin’s long di­ag­o­nal was all too eas­ily taken by Ned Cully, who cut across goal and fired past Hughes, who was prob­a­bly go­ing to be pe­nalised for a foot­block had he made the save.

Down by 2-0 to 0-1, Ki­lanerin got lucky again in the ninth minute when Paul Carey just failed to get a fist on Kee­lan’s hope­ful ball from the edge of the square. From a po­si­tion of com­plete dom­i­nance, St. Mary’s rarely threat­ened again in the half.

In­stead, Matty Forde took over. His first point in the twelfth minute was fol­lowed by an­other one minute later af­ter the ex­cel­lent Niall Hughes was fouled. On the loop, he added his third in the 23rd minute af­ter a good, crisp feed by Niall Breen.

An over-car­ry­ing in­fringe­ment saw Forde claim point num­ber four, and he fired his side level (0-6 to 2-0) in the 25th minute af­ter be­ing found by Mark Boland.

Now boss­ing the game, great work by Mark Gethings gave Forde his sixth, and an­other in added time, af­ter Em­met O’Toole was halted il­le­gally, made it 0-8 to 2-0 at the break.

Any hopes that the half-time in­ter­val, and a cou­ple of changes, might have lit a fire in the vis­i­tors proved to be false. Conor De­vitt flighted over af­ter Forde’s ball fell short be­fore the for­mer All Star added his eighth af­ter he was fouled in the 35th minute.

Snap­ping 36 minutes of unin­spired foot­ball with­out a score, St. Mary’s fi­nally broke their point duck when Kee­lan hit the tar­get. They ended the third quar­ter with a Niall Cully free to leave just two be­tween the sides (0-10 to 2-2).

Start­ing to gain a foothold, the last thing St. Mary’s needed was to lose Luke Gal­lagher to a straight red card for a strike on Matty Forde on the ground. Much like they re­acted to their own dis­missal seven days ear­lier, Ki­lanerin re­sponded pos­i­tively to the change in cir­cum­stances.

Forde hit the tar­get for the ninth time af­ter Bobby Hughes was fouled and then the in­flu­en­tial sub­sti­tute was on tar­get him­self with a fine fin­ish. That put the Gorey Dis­trict side 0-12 to 2-2 up, with one foot in the fi­nal.

Their spot would have been se­cured were it not for a stun­ning Fran Heavey save from Dean O’Toole in the 52nd minute, but Niall Hughes did con­vert the re­sult­ing ‘45 to put five points be­tween the sides.

Fran­cis Duffy and Kee­lan added late points for Rochfort­bridge but Ki­lanerin were as com­fort­able as a team could be in in­jury time with a three-point lead. The vic­tors will be in pro­vin­cial fi­nal ac­tion on November 25 against the win­ners of the other semi-fi­nal be­tween Bally­boughal (Dublin) and Cur­raha (Meath).

Ki­lanerin: Tom Hughes; De­nis Jones, Bren­dan Hobbs, Ai­dan Jones; Gavin O’Toole, Colm Ka­vanagh (capt.), Richard Hughes; Niall Breen, Niall Hughes (0-1 ‘45); Mark Boland, Matty Forde (0-9, 7 frees), Mark Gethings; Em­met O’Toole, Peter Hughes, Dean O’Toole (0-1). Subs. - Conor De­vitt (01) for P. Hughes (24), Bobby Hughes (0-1) for Gethings (42), Tommy Boland for E. O’Toole (45), Rhys Ow­ley for De­vitt (60).

St. Mary’s: Fran Heavey; Eoin Fal­lon, Luke Gal­lagher, Adam Ka­vanagh; Ed­die Al­ford, Peter Lalor, Enda Cully; Ned Cully (1-0), Seán Lys­ter; Colin Gavin, Niall Cully (capt., 0-1 free), Dwayne Leavy; Eoin Gorman, Paul Carey, Ian Kee­lan (1-2, 0-1 free). Subs. - Fran­cis Duffy (0-1) for Gorman (31), Der­mot Judge for Fal­lon (31), Jake Byrne for Carey (40), Joe Bradley for Gavin (40), Siya Nx­u­malo for E. Cully, inj. (57).

Ref­eree: Noel McKenna (Kil­dare).

WEX­FORD YOUTHS Women’s cap­tain Kylie Mur­phy and star cen­tre-for­ward Claire O’Rior­dan were se­lected on the Con­ti­nen­tal Tyres team of the sea­son for 2017. Both play­ers were im­mense in help­ing the Youths to their third league ti­tle in four sea­sons, and their in­clu­sion was well mer­ited af­ter pro­duc­ing stel­lar in­di­vid­ual dis­plays through­out the cam­paign.

Peter Hughes hand­pass­ing as Luke Gal­lagher looks on.

Niall Hughes bat­tling in the air with Seán Lys­ter of St. Mary’s.

Richard Hughes gets his pass away as Luke Gal­lagher tack­les.

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