Two in-a-row: Last gasp Crotta win minor crown
Crotta O’Neills 1-14 Abbeydorney/ Tralee Parnells 1-13
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)