U20 footballers show class to win U-20 B title
0-14 : 1-4
EIRE OG GREYSTONES made a massive statement as to the health of their underage system by clinching the Under-20 B Football Championship title after a superb showing against Rathnew in Dunbur Park on Sunday afternoon last.
Some lovely football and sweetly taken scores helped them to get past a dogged Village side and the lifting of the Paudge Dooley Memorial Cup in this very competitive championship to follow on from the Minor A victory earlier in the year suggests something of a golden age in the years ahead for the Greystones club.
Every single line of the Eire Og team and their substitutes contributed hugely to this win. Defensively, aside from Sean Coffeys first-half goal when he punched home from a high ball, the Greystones men were not found wanting. Conor Browne pulled off some lovely saves and cleared up plenty of dangerous ball. His excellent point-blank save from Rathnews Michael Doyle in the first half was surpassed by his reflex thwarting of Luke Corcorans shot from close range which the Eire Og netminder didnt see until the last second. Its on these excellent moments that championship victories are built.
In front of Browne, his six defenders battled bravely against a very capable Rathnew attack. The most telling stat of all is the one that shows that Rathnew failed to score in the second half until the into injury time. Brian Lawless and then Conor Nolan had the unenviable job of trying to curtail the influence of Sean Coffey at full-forward and for the most part they succeeded.
Andy Clarke and Luke Prendergast were busy throughout while team captain Eoghan McTague led superbly from centre-half back.
When your midfield returns a five-point haul its fair to say that they have put in a decent shift. Conal Deeney and Fintan OShea were excellent all through this game with OShea taking the game by the scruff of the neck at key moments, grabbing the opening two scores of the game and the final score of the first half to send the Greystones men in leading Rathnew by 0-6 to 1-2.
Scores are valuable commodities in championship finals and when you have a free-taker of the caliber of Shaun Cranley you are off to a great start. The corner-forward bagged eight frees with his efforts from the ground proving mightily impressive on a December afternoon.
Where did it go wrong for Rathnew? Their reliance on the high ball down on top of Sean Coffey at times in this game went unrewarded as good defending, poor passing and saves left them with only the early goal to show for their efforts at the end of the game.
From the opening moments of the game the Rathnew sideline and supporters were angered by decisions made by referee Stephen Fagan. This feeling of discontent continued throughout the game and led to unnecessary insults being flung at the Baltinglass official.
It would be unfair to say the cause of Eire Ogs victory on the day was down to any errors made by any official. Rathnews 10 wides and their failure to take their goal chances would be more valid reasons for their defeat. They will feel, however, that they might have had a penalty late in the first half for a suspected foot block, while Eire Ogs sixth point was extremely tight as it flew over the top of the upright from the boot of Fintan OShea and the calling back of the play when Rathnew looked through on goal in the second half for a suspected head injury to an Eire Og player certainly did the Baltinglass official no favours in the eyes of the Rathnew supporters.
The Village side started like a train but only had two wides and a missed goal chance to show for their efforts by the time Fintan OShea breezed through their defence and lashed over the opening score of the game when a goal might well have been on.
The intention to hit Sean Coffey with high balls was blatantly obvious and with JT Moorehouse looking dominant at centre-half back it looked like we were in for a great spectacle.
OShea followed up his opener with a tasty effort after he had been fed by Eoighain O Lonaigh who showed nimble feet to get away from the tight-marking Jack Healy.
A pick up in the square by Andy Clarke allowed Ciaran Coffey the chance to open Rathnews account as we neared the end of the first quarter and the talented midfielder wasnt going to miss from that range.
A period of poor shooting followed until Dylan Smith pointed a free after a foul on Sean Coffey to level the game after 21 minutes at 0-2 apiece.
Conal Deeney pushed Eire Og back in front with a sweet score having profited from an intelligent OShea pass. JT Moorehouse showed his class when he helped Deeney back to his feet after the Rathnew centre half back had tried to block Deeneys effort.
But the goal threat from Rathnew was constant in the opening half and it finally materialised into a green flag when a bomb from Jenson Cox dropped down on top of Sean Coffey and the full-forward helped it home past Conor Browne to give Rathnew a 1-2 to 0-3 lead.
What followed was a key phase of the game. Rathnew would follow up the goal with two wides while Eire Ogs reaction to the goal was impressive. They introduced Daire Devine for Eoghan Potts after 25 minutes and watched as Fionn OCarroll walloped the Rathnew crossbar a moment later.
Cranley grabbed his first and second points (both frees) while OShea notched his third to leave it 0-6 to 1-2. The Eire Og management also switched Shaun Cranley with Dan Clarke with Fionn OSullivan and Tristan OToole following their men.
Cranley pointed a free that had been moved forward for dissent four minutes into the second half and then Conor Browne pulled off his superb reflex save from Luke Corcoran while Ciaran Coffey went wide from the resulting 45.
Tensions started to rise on and off the field. Cranley bagged the next two scores (both frees) before Deeney swept over a superb point and then Fionn OCarroll pointed the score of the game after a sublime exchange of passes with substitute Sean Mason to make it 0-11 to 1-2.
Nothing was going right for Rathnew and it was 0-13 to 1-2 (two more Cranley frees) before Sean Coffey finally stopped the rot with a lovely score but it had all the hallmarks of being too little too late for the Village side.
A Ciaran Coffey free after 31 minutes completed the Rathnew scoring for the day before Cranleys eighth and final score of the day left the final tally reading 0-14 to 1-4 after a capable performance from a very talented young side.
Scorers – Eire Og Greystones: Shaun Cranley 0-8 (8f), Fintan OShea 0-3, Conal Deeney 0-2, Fionn OCarroll 0-1.
THE joy and delight on the faces of the Eire Og Greystones management team after the final whistle of the Under-20 B Football Championship final in Dunbur Park was something to behold.
Having already delivered a Minor A crown back to the seaside town in 2018, this under-20 B crown makes a strong promise of a bright future in the Eire Og club.
To win it they had to withstand a strong challenge from Rathnew and that they did, taking a onepoint lead into the break and preventing the Village from scoring for almost 40 minutes before injury time at the death.
The Eire Og management team said they got their scores when it counted.
We just set out to play the ball out wide and our lads did it and got stuck in. We felt Rathnew would play it through the middle and we stopped the lads doing that and thats about it, we got our scores when it counted and kept playing football, said Fergus ONeill.
And again, like Baltinglass (in the Minor A), this is my first time in 55 years to beat them (Rathnew) in a final, said Peter ONeill.
Despite coming late to prepare for this new competition, the Eire Og lads really bought into it and put in a serious effort in training.
Im delighted for the lads, theyre after putting it in. They started late and they really got involved in it. They all pulled together, and they got what they deserved today. Im absolutely delighted for them because theyve put it in, great training sessions, winters evenings, 20 or 22 of them out, so were absolutely thrilled and we hope they can go forward from here now, they added.
Its been brilliant, really enjoyable, and everybody has bought into it and I really hope the county keep it going because it was sadly lacking.
They were a group of Minor players who finished up two years ago and didnt have anything, and off to college, and this has brought them back into the club as Im sure it has done for every club in the county and we need to keep it going next year, they added.
There was serious tension during the game as the Rathnew players, management and supporters became incensed at decisions made by referee Stephen Fagan over the course of the game.
The Eire Og management team had instructed their players not to get involved in anything other than the football and they were delighted with how their players performed.
We said to the lads before the ball was thrown in, we said: Lads, you just keep your counsel and you do what you have to do, and we just walk away and let the referee ref the game and let the umpires do that (their job) and thats what we did from the start. We didnt get involved and Im delighted with them, they said.
Creating a bond and a strong unit is key for the Eire Og management team and it is paying dividends.
We have our midfield who have been performing there for the last few months, Fintan OShea and Conal Deney, and the lads played together as a team, they really do pull together and do whatever it takes to win that game and thats what they did, and were delighted of each and every one of them and the bench, every one of the subs who came on and those that didnt because we are trying to make them into a unit of 25 lads because thats where the future is for us.
The future is very bright. Lads playing football, enjoying themselves.
Club players in county action: Eire Og is endeavouring to do its bit for iomaint agus peil in the ever-growing population (1000 new houses in the pipeline for the next few years) in the Clocha Liatha area.Of late there have been encouraging straws in the wind that its efforts have been gaining some fruit.Thus apart from the clubs successes in the u-17A and u-20B championships it had the honour at the week-end of supplying 4 players, Billy Cuddihy, Peter Keane, James Cranley and Stephen Kelly to the Cill Mantain team which played Iar-Mhi in the Walsh Cup (iomaint) and 3 players, Darren Hayden, Daniel Keane and Fintan OShea, to that which played Longford in the OByrne Cup (peil).
A win is a win is a win but it has to be contended that it loses some of its lustre if it, as they say, is an ugly one.A victory is most satisfying when accomplished with lan. So one was delighted to hear on a visit to the west of the county the underage teams mentioned above, particularly the u-17s, being praised for the quality and attractiveness of their football.
Moladh mor for the lads and their mentors.
Comhbhron to Lorna Fusciardi and Laurie Ahern who were members of the Foxcab ladies team defeated by Mourneabbey in the Senior All-Ireland Club Final on Saturday.One has to confess a secret sympathy for the ladies from Cork who were contesting their 4thfinal and to date had been unsuccessful.
Comhgairdeachas to Wexican Eamonn Scallanon his recent appointment as Cill Mantain hurling manager.No doubt his reference from Eire Og carried weight in his obtaining the position.Go n-eirI an t-adh leis.The club wishes Eamonn every success.
The competitive future of Cill Mantain in intercounty G.A.A. competitions will without doubt be dependant to quite a large degree on the games developing a vibrant presence in the areas where most of the countys population is concentrated.Not an easy task when one considers the distractions and quasi-rootlessness of urban living.
The cultivation in such an environment of even a modicum of the spirit of solidarity and commitment which drove Mullinalaghta, a half-parish of 400 dwellings in Longford, to victory over Kilmacud Crokes on Sunday would have to be counted as a huge achievement