Following a bitterly close opening half of football which saw Clonaslee St Manman’s lead by two points at the break, St Paul’s pulled out all the stops in the second half to notch 2-10 in what was an outstanding performance to claim the U-21 title.
U-21B Football Championship Final
St Paul’s 2-14
Clonaslee St Manmans 2-6
Due to the eight o’clock throw-in on Friday evening, both sides were forced to quickly adapt to the greasy conditions and backlit settings in McCann Park, Portarlington. With reduced visibility and bitter temperatures setting the scene, the players persevered through the challenging opening ten minutes to serve up an entertaining finale to the competition.
It took until the ninth minute for the first score to be registered, and it was the eventual winners that claimed it with Mark O’Halloran calmly slotting a free from twenty-one yards out to set the scorecard in motion. St Manman’s quickly followed suit and opened their account two minutes later with midfielder Sean Larkin raising the white flag.
Evan Costello announced his arrival to the game as he converted two frees in as many minutes to push St Paul’s back in front. Ray Hogan cooly slipped his marker before guiding the ball over the crossbar for his first point to bring the Clonaslee deficit back to the minimum with fifteen minutes elapsed.
St Paul’s went on to restore their two point lead when Mark O’Halloran expertly picked out Shane Murphy whose soaring effort sailed between the posts with twenty minutes elapsed. A lapse of scoring for ten minutes ensued until Clonaslee rattled the St Paul’s net on the stroke of half time. Substitute Aaron Wisely had been on the pitch only a matter of seconds when the towering poacher pounced on the loose ball to put his side a point ahead entering injury time. Sean Larkin closed out the half with his second point of the day to ease Clonaslee St Manman’s into a two point lead at the interval.
St Manman’s picked up the half where they left off and direct from the throw-in Declan Carroll pushed them three points clear with a fine effort from his right boot. However, this was to be Clonaslee St Manman’s last point for over twenty minutes as St Paul’s ran rampant.
In a fifteen minute onslaught St Paul’s racked up seven points without reply. Evan Costello did the majority of the damage as he accounted for four points, while Nigel Murphy notched a brace, and Robert Boland a point to send Emo four points clear with eleven minutes remaining.
Clonaslee finally found their feet again after fifty minutes with substitute Aaron Wisely leading the scoring once again with a superb point from a tricky angle to break the St Manman’s slump. But it was to be short-lived as St Paul’s set another scoring spree in motion.
With eight minutes left on the clock Nigel Murphy broke the St Paul’s goal drought with a composed finish past PJ Fitzpatrick in the Clonaslee goals after an incisive pass from Shane Murphy set him on his way. Evan Costello followed up with a brace, while Murphy grabbed a deserved second point of the day as Emo pushed nine clear.
A late flurry of goals was on the cards with ‘super-sub’ Aaron Wisely grabbing his second for Clonaslee, while St Paul’s substitute Eddie Carroll put the final nail in the coffin as St Paul’s hugely impressive second half display sealed an emphatic eight point victory to claim the title.
SCORERS - St Paul’s: Evan Costello 0-8 (six frees), Nigel Murphy 1-2, Eddie Carroll 1-0, Shane Murphy 0-2, Mark O’Halloran (f) and Robert Boland 0-1 each; Clonaslee St Manman’s: Aaron Wisely 2-1, Sean Larkin 0-3, Ray Hogan and Declan Carroll 0-1 each.
ST PAUL’S: Brian Hogan; Ian Fennelly, Robert Wilkinson; Conor Hogan, Shane Murphy, Paddy Dunne; Ray Ryan, Mark O’Halloran; Evan Joyce, Nigel Murphy, Craig Langford; Evan Costello, Robert Boland. SUBS: Conor Luttrell for Ian Fennelly; Eddie O’Connor for Evan Joyce.
CLONASLEE ST MANMAN’S: PJ Fitzpatrick; Hugo Conroy, Eoin Donovan; Michael Hyland, Will Young, John Hyland; Sean Larkin, Conor McEvoy; Declan Carroll, Ciaran Hyland, David Lewis; Cormac Dunne, Ray Hogan. SUBS: Aaron Wisely for Ray Hogan; Gavin Burke for PJ Fitzpatrick; Ger Reilly for Michael Hyland; Conor Hyland for David Lewis; Packie Delaney for Eoin Donovan.