O’Neill sends Éire Óg to final
Late goal thwarts An Tochar
A goal punched home by midfielder Eoin O’Neill six minutes from the end of normal time proved to be the deciding score in this evenly contested Under-17 ‘A’ football semi-final played at Newtown on Sunday morning last.
Conditions were good with a slight breeze favouring the team playing up from the dressing room end. Both sides had a mixture of strong players, who were up to the age and smaller, younger lads who have another year left. Éire Óg appeared to have a slight advantage here, but it must be said that there were noticeable performers from those in the younger bracket.
An Tochar started strongly and full-forward Ross Stephenson was unfortunate to see his shot for a point came back off the post in an early attack.
Éire Óg took a few minutes to settle but they gradually came into the game with Fionn O’Carroll and Eoin O’Neill, backed up by halfbacks Cillian Keane, Nick Browne and Cian Hynes pushing forward and putting the An Tochar defence under pressure.
A lot of early ball was being fed to Eoin O’Loinsigh at full-forward for the seasiders and chances began to come. Sean Mason opened their account with a point off his left after four minutes and centre forward Joe Prendergast got their second on seven minutes.
The An Tochar central diamond of centre back Cian McHugh, Ciaran Byrne, Jordan Brady and centre forward Gavin Fogarty were battling strongly to stem the flow and in their occasional raid into attack Bobby Brady and Darragh Fee, two of their younger players, were causing problems for the Éire Óg defence.
Ross Stephenson opened their scoring with a point after 12 minutes. Luke Dorgan put Éire Óg 0-3 to 0-1 ahead with a point on the quarter hour, and the Greystones side had a dominant period for the next seven or eight minutes, adding two further points from frees by Shaun Cranley.
In addition, they began to accumulate a few wides and had reached a total of seven by the break. With the score standing at 0-5 to 0-1, An Tochar pressed back for the last few minutes of the half and were rewarded with three points from frees by the hard working Jordan Brady.
Just before the half-time whistle Shane Cranley added an Éire Óg point to leave his side 0-6 to 0-4 to the good at the break. The Roundwood lads were relieved enough at that as Éire Óg would not have been flattered with another three or four points, as their wide count was high.
An Tochar began the second period in a strong, determined fashion and took the game strongly to their opponents.
Their forwards Bobby Brady, Gavin Fogarty, John Nolan and full forwards, where Ross Stephenson and Oisin Cullen were coming out and then running at the Éire Óg defence strongly, were drawing fouls and free taker Jordan Brady was delivering the results.
Five converted frees in a row had put An Tochar into a 0-9 to 0-6 lead by 12 minutes. Éire Óg began to recover from this early second half onslaught and two pointed frees from Shaun Cranley had them just one point adrift after 17 minutes.
At this stage An Tochar suffered a bad blow when they lost Eoin Murphy to a black card. As he was already on a yellow, he received a red and could not be replaced.
However, a point from play by Gavin Fogarty put An Tochar into a 0-10 to 0-8 lead with ten minutes of normal time left. With five minutes to go came the crucial goal from Eoin O’Neill, when he came in on a fisted pass across goal to punch home. The score stood 1-9 to 0-10 for Éire Óg at this stage.
Jordan Brady reduced the lead to a point with a score from free just as the game entered added time. In an exciting and keenly contested six minutes of added time both sides battled gamely. Shaun Cranley pointed an Éire Óg free, Jordan Brady responded with an An Tochar free but Cranley had the final say when he made the Greystones men safe with the final point of the game just before the call of time.
This was an enjoyable and sportingly contested game with both sides battling for victory in a very honest fashion.
Scorers - Éire Óg: Shaun Cranley 0-8, Eoin O’Neill 1-0, Sean Mason, Joe Prendergast, Luke Dorgan 0-1 each.
An Tochar: Jordan Brady 0-10, Ross Stephenson, Gavin Fogarty 0-1 each.
Éire Óg: Sean O’Neill; Dave Prendergast, Tadg Shanahan, Dave Healy; Cillian Keane, Neill Browne, Cian Hynes; Fionn O’Carroll, Eoin O’Neill; Sean Mason, Joe Prendergast, Luke Dorgan; Gavin O’Shea, Eoin O’Lionsaigh, Shaun Cranley. Sub: Ron Byrne.
An Tochar: Andrew Nolan; Matt Nolan, Eoin Murphy, Kian Brady; Luke Kenny, Cian McHugh, Sam Ireland; Ciaran Byrne, Jordan Brady; Bobby Brady, Gavin Fogarty, J.P. Nolan; Darragh Fee, Ross Stephenson, Oisin Cullen. Subs: Dylan Cummins, Niall Sheahan.
Referee: Noel Kinsella (Kilbride)
An Tochar’s Sam Ireland tries to keep tabs on Éire Óg’s Luke Dorgan.