Newtown give combination side the Blues
NEWTOWN Blues’ dominance of Louth football continued on Saturday as they saw off a gallant Mattock Rangers/ Hunterstown Rovers/ Glen Emmets amalgamation side to win the under 21 football championship on a wet and rainy night in Darver.
The Blues were in control for most of the match and led by 0-8 to 0-1 at half time with Jamie Kelly making a significant contribution to that tally from free kicks and from play.
The amalgamation side will be proud of the physicality and passion that they brought to the final with the Caraher twins and Ryan Ward working exceptionally hard during that 60 minutes.
However, they will without doubt rue their wastefulness in front of the posts especially in that opening half whenthey only registered 0-1 from 8 shots which included a superb save from Blues goalkeeper Dean Martin to deny Ryan Ward after 10 minutes with the Blues leading 0-2 to 0-1. You felt when watching this game that these were the sort of opportunities that the amalgamation side needed to convert to really put pressure on the Blues. Had they not been so wasteful, the outcome may have been different.
A gorgeous point from play by Ciaran Downey and a hat trick of Jamie Kelly scores gave the Blues a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after 13 minutes. The Blues found the physicality of the Amalgamation side difficult the break down at times but their class and cohesion up front came to the fore and points from Ian Connor, Jamie Doherty and two further Kelly strikes placed them Newtown Blues captain Ronan Levins receives the U-21 cup from Chairman of the Louth County Board, Des Halpenny. Pictures: Ken Finegan
in a commanding lead of seven points at the interval.
Mattock Rangers/ Huntestown/ Glen Emmets continued to bring the game to the Blues and thanks mainly to scores from Ben McKenna and Keelan O’Neill, they kept the Blues honest. But whenever Colm Nally’s side were asked a question by their opponents they stepped through the gears with their strength and fitness levels evident. Players like Fergal Donohoe who touched the ball 26 times over the hour and won the ball back off the opposition 7 times deserve appraisal along with Kevin Carr who had 16 touches of the size 5 while Daire Nally younger brother of Ross had an impressive cameo after coming off the bench, which was capped off with arguably one of the scores of the game. The Mattock/ Hunterstown/ Glen Emmets combination managed to cut the deficit to seven points with 8 minutes remaining thanks to the efforts of McKenna and O’Neill while Dean Martin
produced another save to deny Cathal Fleming in that period. They moved midfielder Ryan Ward to full forward but again the Blues showed superb game management and raised the final three white flags of the game through Ross Nally (2) and Emmet Carolan to cap off a hugely successful 2018 for the Newfoundwell outfit. NEWTOWN BLUES: Dean Martin; Ronan Levins, Conor Ayson, Ciaran McCann; Alan Connor, Ian Connor 0-1, Fergal Donohoe; Kevin Carr, Emmett Carolan 0-1; Jamie Doherty 0-1, Ciaran Downey 0-2, Jamie Kelly 0-7 (4f); Declan McNamara, Ross Nally 0-2, Johnny McDonnell. Subs: Daire Nally 0-1 for McNamara, James Moore for Doherty, Luke Cormican for McCann, Ryan Levins for McDonnell.
MATTOCK RANGERS/HUNTERSTOWN ROVERS/ GLEN EMMETTS: Mark Lenihan; Alan Caraher, Patrick Taafe Ben Quaile; Sam Kenny, Brendan Leacy 0-1, Shane Hickey; Ryan Ward, James Caraher; Cathal Fleming, Ben McKenna 0-3 (1f), Marc Ward; Cillian Hickey, Keelan O’Neill 0-2, JP Watters. Subs: Evan English for Waters, Ben Markey for C. Hickey.
REFEREE: Colm McCullough (replaced by Ultan McElroy due to injury). Ronan Levins of Newtown Blues attempts to break past Patrick Taaffe and James Caraher of Mattock/ Hunterstown/Glen Emmets. ROSS Nally and Kevin Carr have been winning championship titles almost as long as they have been playing football and the winning mentality instilled into this Newtown Blues group was there for all to see again on Saturday night.
‘It is just surreal,’ Carr said. ‘I have played underage with that group of lads and we have won championships at every age group, for me personally to finish my under-age career with an under 21 championship is fantastic, hopefully in the next few years we can keep at it and continue to be successful’
‘We’re just enjoying playing the game and we just want to play and work hard for each other, we have that feeling of winning and we don’t want to lose it.’
Nally echoed those sentiments, stating that at the beginning of the campaign the aim for the Blues was to try to win every competition that they entered. He talked about the sheer hunger and drive that was instilled in him and the rest of his team mates since under 14 and now onto under 21 and senior level. ‘We set out at the start of the year to try to win every competition we were in,’ explained Nally. ‘From under 14 until now that hunger is still there to win and keep working hard.’
The winning mentality was evident in the second half especially. Having been reduced to fourteen men following Ciaran Downey’s dismissal entering the last quarter, the amalgamation side scored a few consecutive points but according to Nally it was all about maintaining composure and crucially not conceding a goal which Dean Martin played his part in with a fine save in each half.
‘It was about keeping that scoreboard ticking over,’ stated Nally. ‘ Once we did not concede a goal, we did not mind conceding a couple of points here and there.’
A personal bonus for Ross Nally was that this is the first time he has lined out for the Blues along with his younger brother Daire another exciting prospect. Younger brother Daire’s impact following his introduction as a substitute was important. For Ross, it made this under 21 championship success a little bit special.
‘It is the first time that I have got to play with Daire, I am 20 years old, he is 18 next month so we never got a chance to play together as two years is a big gap in under age football,’ he explained.
‘I was delighted that I got the chance to play with him, he is a good young player and hopefully he will be an asset to the senior team in a few years’ time.’
Marc Ward of Mattock/Hunterstown/Glen Emmets and Jamie Kelly, Newtown Blues compete for possession.