Clogherinkoe made it to their first Tom Cross Junior final since 1998 on Saturday at Kildare GAA HQ with a very good win over Milltown who must now go home and plot their path up the football ladder next year, writes Ronan Flanagan.
Tom Cross Transport Junior Football Championship Semi Final
For the Cloghs it was a day to savour and, just like in 1998, the free kicks from a Gravin was one of the highlights on the day.
Back then it was Kildare star Pauric who was the man with lethal left peg, now it’s his baby brother Ciarán who kicked two frees from the sidelines on the 45 to show his class.
It is certainly a time to look forward for the North Kildare club as they have been bolstered by a number of young men who have tasted All Ireland winning success with St Mary’s Edenderry.
One of them, Mark Nolan, was a key ingredient to Clogherinkoe’s second half charge that ultimately sent them on their path to glory where they will hope leads all the way to Intermediate.
However, in the opening exchanges it was Milltown who were looking the part. Myles O’Reilly opened his account after six minutes before Cian McMonagle split the posts from a standing position. O’Reilly responded for the men from the parish of Allen before the lively as ever Ian Fitzgerald raised a white flag on the turn to ease his side into a two-point lead.
Then two frees from citeógs in the form of Ciarán Gravin and Neil Bergin made it all square as the clock slipped past the 20 minute mark in what had been a dull enough encounter up to then.
Fitzgerald was then fouled on the edge of the square and he then stepped up to convert. Then the score of the game so far came courtesy of wing back Eddie Owen who fired over with the outside of the boot.
Both team then wasted chances before a great intercept from Conor Grehan resulted in Neil Bergin making it a one point game just before half time.
It was far from riveting stuff but to be fair the second half certainly got amped up a lot more.
Inside a minute Clogherinkoe got the first of four unanswered point through a Neil Bergin shot. Then Mark Nolan really came to the fore. He finished off two great moves in style before he dispossessed an opponent, ran in, only to be fouled and Cian McMonagle converted.
That three point lead was soon cut back to two as the scores came thick and fast in the opening ten minutes of the half. Sub Robbie Dunne got in on the act as he fired over his shoulder from a very acute angle.
Ciarán Garvin showed his dead ball prowess as he fired over a 45 before Myles O’Reilly got his shooting boots again to fire over the bar. Eddie Owen then raided once again from wing back.
The game was really getting going at this stage and we were soon to see one of the highlights. Gravin stepped up and stroked home a free off the sod on the 45 inches from the right touch line.
From the sublime to the ridiculous as tempers flared for a period. Nothing major of note but yellow cards were soon to be flashed as the game totally lost its flow.
Ian Fitzgerald got things back on track with a free but Cian McMonagle cancelled this out with another placed ball. Brian Kelly nearly sealed it but his blasted effort was tipped over by ‘keeper Derek Moore.
The Cloghs were looking good for the win and they were looking even better as Garvin took charge of another free from way out on the right sideline. Once again there was no mistake.
The only men who may have made a mistake are the bookies who gave odds at 8/1 for the Cloghs to win the Junior!
Garry Ryan; Declan Lowry, Sean McEvy, Conor Grehan; Thomas Hickey, Conor Swan, Kevin McEvoy; Brian Gravin, Daniel Grehan; Dean Hanley, Thomas Reilly, Cian McMonagle 0-3 (2f); Neil Bergin 0-3 (1f), Ciaran Gravin 0-4 (3f, 45), Mark Nolan 0-2. Subs: Robbie Dunne 0-1 for O’Reilly (h/t), Ben Kenny for K McEvoy (h/t), Paul Lowry for Kenny (57mins), Brian Kelly 0-1 for Hanley (57mins)
Drek Moore; Michael Colleton, Omar dunne, Niall Kelly; Eddie Owen 0-2, Wayne Dignam, John O’Reilly; Emmet Mulhall, Eoghan O’Toole; Ronan O’Shea, Ian Fitzgerald 0-3 (2f), Myles O’Reilly 0-3 (1f), Bernard Geraghty 0-1. Subs: Ray Coleman for R O’Shea (41mins), Eoin O’Sullivan for Geraghty (45mins), Eoin Dowling for O’Reilly (53mins)