DESPITE not scoring for the duration of the second half Kildare were crowned Under 16 Leinster Development champions when they got the better of Dublin by the minimum at Hawkfield last Wednesday night, writes Ruth Chambers.
Leinster U16 Football Championship Final
The Lilies, under the guidance of mentors Aidan Minnock from Celbridge, Grange’s Danny Mackey, Frank Byrne from Balyna, Mick Behan from Athy and Moorefield’s John Doran, were light on firepower but not as light as their opponents, who trailed 0-5 to 0-3 at the break.
Kildare were captained by Round Towers man Jamie Flynn, who was, without doubt, the stand our performer of the evening at wing back, while Maynooth’s Paul Mescal ran him very close for the man of the match accolade.
Dublin, who were dominant in the second but didn’t make it count on the scoreboard, were disappointing. Many expected them to come with an extremely strong panel of players but this wasn’t the case and indeed they only travelled with four available substitutions.
Kildare’s shooting in the first half really left a lot to be desired and indeed they hit a total of nine wides and dropped a number of other efforts short.
It was the visitors who drew first blood with just two minutes on the clock when Chris Sallier collected possession from Conor O’Callaghan before splitting the posts to give his side an early 0-1 to 0-0 lead.
Four minutes later the young Lilies opened their account and levelled proceedings when midfield man Cian McConnell struck over the bar and soon after they hit the front thanks to a point from the boot of Round Towers man Aaron McConville.
The next two scores went the way of the boys in blue. With 21 minutes on the clock Michael Walsh struck over Tommy Maher’s cross bar to restore parity (0-2 to 0-2) before they get their noses in front, again through Walsh, who converted a free off the ground to leave the scoreboard reading 0-3 to 0-2.
That was the Dubs’ lot for the first period but Kildare weren’t finished just yet. A super score from Aaron McConville, who shot from a difficult angle on the left, tied up the game some three minutes before the break and seconds later Ardclough’s Niall Delahunt tagged on another to leave Kildare leading 0-4 to 0-3.
There was time for one more score before the half time whistle and once again it went the way of the home side and came from the boot of Moorefield’s Luke Doran to leave the interlude score at 0-5 to 0-3.
The second half was a dull and dismal affair with Dublin only scoring once despite having the lions share of the possession, while Kildare failed to add to their first half tally at all.
Just a minute after the turnaround the Dubs reduced the deficit to just one when Sallier’s shot crept over the bar and indeed that was to be the last score of the game.
Kildare should have grabbed a sixth point in the 39th minute but McConville sent the free poorly wide, while in the end the Lilies, who were guilty of giving away possession too easily, hung on for dear life. It worked though and the Leinster title will remain in the Shortgrass County for the next twelve months.
Kildare, Aaron McConville 0-2, Cian McConnell 0-1, Niall Delahunt 0-1, Peadar Murray 0-1.
Dublin, Chris Sallier 0-2, Michael Walsh 0-2 (1f).
Tommy Maher (Na Fianna); Mark Hyland (Athy), Darren Maguire (Maynooth), Cian Scanlon (Sarsfields); Jamie Flynn (Round Towers), Paul Mescal (Maynooth), Ben McCormack (Sarsfields); Sean Dempsey (Sarsfields), Cian McConnell (Sarsfields); Brian McGrath (Na Fianna), Darren Acton (Kilcock), Peadar Murray (Maynooth); Luke Doran (Moorefield), Aaron McConville (Round Towers), Niall Delahunt (Ardclough). Subs: Matthew Bursey (Raheens) replaced S Dempsey 28 mins, Ryan King (Suncroft) replaced L Doran 38 mins, Daniel Pyke (Balyna) replaced D Acton 41 mins, Anthony Byrne (Celbridge) replaced B McCormack 52 mins.
Dylan Rafferty; Stephen Russell, Jack Mullins, Sean Dunning; Eddie Duffy, Sean O’Malley, Aodhan Fee; Alan O’Brien, Andrew Foley; Sean O’Meara, Chris Sallier, Conor McCaffrey; Sean Keating, Conor O’Callaghan, Michael Walsh. Subs: Cian Murphy replaced S Dunning 19 mins, Ciaran Murtagh replaced C Sallier (inj) 38 mins.
John Hickey (Carlow).