Clonaslee St. Manman’s lifted the Junior C Championship crown on Friday night when they weathered a brave Ballylinan revival at Fr. Breen Park to secure a memorable win. They had looked to have been home and hosed after a powerful first-half display but Ballylinan dug deep to get back on terms before a goal from John Barrett decided matters with only two minutes remaining.
Junior C HC Final
Clonaslee St Manman’s 3-8
Manman’s were only behind once, and that was in the first three minutes of the game when Conor Harrington converted the first of the night from a dead ball but it would be just short of half an hour before they would be troubling the score-keeper again and they trudged off the field at half-time trailing on a score of 2-5 to 0-1.
Sean Fitzgerald bagged the first of those two early Clonaslee goals when he reacted quickest to a breaking ball in from Conor Harrington and when the ball dropped loose Fitzgerald was their to smash it past Ballylinan’s stopper David Dobbyn. Their second came just seven minutes later when a high ball in was gathered by Dobbyn but his blocked clearance landed at the feet of Pauric Carroll who flashed an unstoppable low shot back across goal and into the bottom right hand corner of the Ballylinan net.
John Barrett fired over a late point that stretched the Manman’s lead to ten at the break and at that stage it couldn’t have been foreseen that Barrett’s next score would be the one that saved his side from falling to a magnificent Ballylinan comeback.
Aided by the significant breeze they immediately set about clawing into that lead and having managed just one point in the first half they hit seven in the first ten minutes to leave just a goal in it with twenty minutes to go. Five of those came from the dead ball expertise of Conor Harrington and with Gary Walsh hitting two fine scores Ballylinan were suddenly right back in contention.
Clonaslee looked to have been caught cold by the Ballylinan fight-back and who could blame them. This really had the look of a game that was over as a contest at the interval but the breeze helped the much hungrier underdogs to get going and with fifteen minutes left they got the goal that levelled the tie for the first time since early in the first half.
Again it was Conor Harrington who was involved and when his long range free was batted clear by the Manman’s defence it was gathered up by Ballylinan’s first-half substitute Sean Julian and he fired home from close range to seal a storming comeback.
There was still a quarter of the game to however, and St. Manman’s finally stopped the Ballylinan monopoly of the second half scoring with a superb point from their goalscorer Pauric Carroll. He tapped a loose ball away from Robbie Donoher to make some space before rising the sliotar and firing straight between the posts to restore his side’s lead. Harrington responded with a free and when Manman’s again went in front with five minutes through Sean Fitzgerald the Ballylinan sharp-shooter was equally instant in his response with another excellently struck ’65.
And so it was all square with injury time looming. Having dominated a half each neither side really deserved to lose but with two minutes remaining it was all down to who could keep their composure and create space for a winning score. A point either way would probably have been enough, but St. Manman’s John Barrett wasn’t so sure and he snatched the win with a late goal to send the Junior C title back to the village.
Darren Hogan’s huge floated ball in was missed by Ballylinan’s David O’Sullivan and Barrett found himself through on goal with only keeper David Dobbyn to beat. There was still plenty to do but Barrett managed to fire the ball low and hard to the near post where Dobbyn just couldn’t get his stick to it and Clonaslee had snatched it at the death.
There was still time for Darren Hogan to rise brilliantly and slot Tidge O’Brien’s free over the bar for the insurance point but it wasn’t required because referee Kieran Bowe sounded the full-time whistle straight from that puck out and Clonaslee St. Manman’s had done enough to kill off the brave Ballylinan challenge.
SCORERS - Clonaslee St Manman’s: Seanie Fitzgerald 1-2 (0-2 free), John Barrett and Pauric Carroll 1-1 each, Darren Hogan 0-3, Darren McEvoy 0-1; Ballylinan: Conor Harrington 0-7 (five frees, two 65s), Sean Julian 1-0, Gary Walsh 0-2 (one free), Lar Wall 0-1
CLONASLEE ST MANMAN’S: Cormac Dunne; Patrick White, Eoin O’Donovan, Ger Reilly; Tidge O’Brien, Keith Hogan, John Hyland; Barry White, Tony Carroll; Pauric Carroll, Aaron Wisely, Darren McEvoy; Sean Fitzgerald, Darren Hogan, Gavin Burke. Subs: John Barrett for Burke (24mins), Ger Dunne for Barrett (44 mins), Barrett for White (56 mins)
BALLYLINAN: David Dobbyn; Paul Julian, Aidan Walsh, David O’Sullivan; Robbie Donoher, Padraig McEvoy, James Michael Fleming; Gary Walsh, Lar Wall; Jimmy Rowan, Conor Harrington, Brian Kenna; Alan Farrell, Walter Hovenden, John Kealy. Subs: Kevin Meaney for Rowan (10 mins), Sean Julian for Kenna (25 mins).