Two in-a-row: Last gasp Crotta win mi­nor crown

The Kerryman (North Kerry) - - SPORT - TIMMY SHEE­HAN

A LAST gasp win­ning goal in added time snatched a sen­sa­tional vic­tory from the jaws of de­feat for the de­fend­ing champions.

Cer­tainly it looked as if a win against all odds was going to ma­te­ri­alise as the con­test drifted to its con­clu­sion with Michael Slat­tery’s goal cre­ated and con­verted with clin­i­cal ef­fi­ciency look­ing as if it might prove to be the game breaker and the game’s most defin­ing score.

But the char­ac­ter that was very much a key in­gre­di­ent last year when Crotta won their first ever ti­tle against a fan­cied Lix­naw side resur­faced again with the ti­tle slip­ping from their grasp.

Donal Hunt got the fi­nal touch to steer the slio­thar along the ground past the goal­keeper when the ball broke favourably inside the last line of de­fence in a goal­mouth melee for what ul­ti­mately proved to be a golden goal.

Un­der­stand­ably there was un­re­strained joy and emo­tion amongst the Crotta squad as the fi­nal whis­tle sounded, with the cruel side of sport be­ing very much in ev­i­dence as far as the van­quished were con­cerned, and it was easy to re­late to their frus­tra­tion and dis­ap­point­ment.

A pul­sat­ing fin­ish pro­duced ela­tion and heart­break in equal mea­sures and pos­si­bly nei­ther side would have com­plained if a draw was the out­come. How­ever, the ex­pe­ri­ence and the con­fi­dence gained by Crotta when they won last year’s ti­tle stood to them in good stead when the win­ning post was in sight.

O’Dor­ney / Par­nells were quickly into their stride at the out­set of pro­ceed­ings and were three points in front inside the opening five min­utes of play with Jack Shee­han shoot­ing a su­perb opening score from out on the wing and Michael Slat­tery con­vert­ing a sim­i­lar type score from the other side of the pitch after Adam Maun­sell with a ‘65’ had reg­is­tered his side’s sec­ond score.

How­ever, a hat-trick of unan­swered points from ace at­tacker Barry Ma­hony meant that the en­counter was level on three points apiece after just eight min­utes of play. Ma­hony with three more points, all con­verted from placed balls pro­pelled Crotta into a three point lead 0-6 0-3 by the end of the opening quar­ter.

Adam Maun­sell’s re­turns from frees, and Sean Holden’s as­sured in­put be­tween the posts kept the O’Dor­ney / Par­nells com­bi­na­tion in touch, but it was sig­nif­i­cant that Michael Slat­tery saw very lit­tle of the play at wing for­ward and re­ally they needed him to be dic­tat­ing mat­ters and in­flu­enc­ing the play in a more piv­otal po­si­tion.

Still, just two points 0-8 0-6 seper­ated the teams with four min­utes of nor­mal time re­main­ing in the opening half, and after James Shee­han and Donal Hunt had dou­bled that ad­van­tage, with Hunt’s ef­fort at the end of a surg­ing run look­ing as if it might pro­duce a goal, Michael Slat­tery was nar­rowly wide with a goal­ing chance that shaved the post at the other end.

The re­ac­tion of ev­ery­body in the ground sug­gested that his pow­er­ful low drive had just beaten the goal­keeper and a goal at that junc­ture would have re­duced the deficit to the min­i­mum and pro­vided real mo­men­tum for the Black and Amber brigade, just be­fore the half-time break. As it was, Crotta re­tired 0-10 to 0-6 in front with Barry Ma­hony hav­ing contributed seven of their first half tally.

Crotta in­creased their lead to 0-12 to 0-7 within five min­utes of the restart, with Aodhan Be­han’s fin­ish be­ing awarded amidst some con­fu­sion hav­ing been ini­tially sig­nalled wide.

They re­tained that lead to the end of the third quar­ter, and, while they looked pretty com­fort­able the end re­sult still hung in the bal­ance. Brian Lon­er­gan and Cil­lian Spillane, who was at this stage re­lo­cated in at­tack pro­vided some en­ergy and im­pe­tus for O’Dor­ney / Par­nells and, in­deed, Spillane was fouled as he burst into a goal scor­ing area, a foul which would have mer­ited a black card in Gaelic foot­ball. As events sub­se­quently tran­spired, just a throw in re­sulted, a de­ci­sion which was some­what de­bat­able in the cir­cum­stances.

Adam Maun­sell’s re­turns from placed balls con­tin­ued to bring his side closer, and, when Michael Slat­tery made in­roads in along the end line, dis­played ad­mirable im­pro­vi­sa­tion and fin­ished su­perbly, high across the face of the goal the pen­du­lum had swung firmly in favour of the un­der­dogs with their one point lead be­ing dou­bled by an­other Maun­sell free.

Al­ways a pre­car­i­ous lead they were un­done by a long de­liv­ery from which the win­ning goal was man­u­fac­tured. A real body blow, but credit Crotta for pur­su­ing the is­sue right un­til the fi­nal whis­tle.

One year ago they de­nied Lix­naw of a three in-a-row at this grade, and they are now just one step away from achiev­ing this feat them­selves. Hav­ing also won this year’s Un­der-16 County Cham­pi­onship the Red and Green ma­chine could well be climb­ing the steps to col­lect the mi­nor tro­phy in twelve months time.

How­ever, given that the bulk of the Abbey­dor­ney / Par­nells squad will be el­i­gi­ble to play next year, there’s ev­ery chance that they could very well go one step fur­ther next time round.

CROTTA O’NEILLS: Adam O’Sul­li­van, Daniel O’Rourke, Jeaic McKenna, Micheal Kennedy, Do­minic Nolan, Dar­ragh Be­han, Ea­monn Ro­han, Ea­monn Shana­han, John Quil­ter, James Shee­han, (0-1), Donal Hunt (1-1), Aodhan Be­han (0-1), Dar­ragh O’Donoghue Barry Ma­hony (0-10, 7f, 2 ‘65’), De­clan O’Donoghue (0-1) Subs: Aodhan McKenna for A Be­han, Tadhg McKenna, for E Ro­han ABBEY­DOR­NEY/TRALEE PAR­NELLS: Sean Holden (Abbey­dor­ney), Shane O’Dono­van (Abbey­dor­ney), Owen McCarthy (Abbey­dor­ney), Johnny Downey (Par­nells), Jack Parker (Abbey­dor­ney) Tadhg Brick (Par­nells), Cil­lian Spillane (Abbey­dor­ney), Adam Maun­sell (Abbey­dor­ney) (0-8, 7, 1 ‘65’), Niall O’Ma­hony (Abbey­dor­ney) (0-1), Cathal Dunne (Par­nells), Brian Lon­er­gan (Par­nells), Barry Lyons (Par­nells), Dar­ragh Reen (Par­nells) (0-1), Michael Slat­tery (Abbey­dor­ney) (1-1), Jack Shee­han (Abbey­dor­ney) (0-2) Subs: Ruairi O’Sul­li­van (Par­nells) for B Lyons, Shane Byrne (Abbey­dor­ney) for C Dunne, Mikey Clif­ford (Abbey­dor­ney) for S Byrne, Keith O’Con­nor (Abbey­dor­ney) for R O’Sul­li­van

REF­EREE: Mike Hen­nessy (Bal­ly­duff)

The vic­to­ri­ous Crotta O’Neills team cel­e­brate their suc­cess Photo by Dom­nick Walsh / Eye Fo­cus

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