HAD either Round Towers or Celbridge lost this Minor A Football Championship final replay it would have been a travesty. After 140 minutes of football these two teams could not be separated and now they must meet for the third time to decide the destination of the Gilligan Cup for 2012, writes Ruth Chambers.
Minor Football Championship Final Replay
Round Towers: 2-6
On Sunday last, at a bitterly cold and wet St Conleth’s Park, Towers and Celbridge, once again, served up an epic final. At half time the scoreboard might have read 0-2 to 0-2 but don’t be fooled by the scoreline. Right throughout this was a keenly contested, challenging encounter.
It came to life after the turnaround, where supporters were treated to three goals and as time ticked away and the long whistle beckoned Towers held a one point advantage. However, an injury to substitute Charlie Ryan ensured a extended stint of stoppage time and Celbridge took advantage. Kildare minor star Shane O’Flynn proved to be the hero when he split the posts deep in to injury time to leave the score at 2-4 to 1-7 and send the game to extra time.
Stoppage time, as one would expect, was a cagey affair. Two wonderfully stuck points from 45s from Kildare U16 captain Jamie Flynn added to Towers’ tally but down the other end Brian Flynn and captain Paddy Brophy both raised white flags to ensure the teams were deadlocked once again and to ensure a second replay, which is most likely to take place on Saturday week.
Celbridge, despite a super showing from Round Towers in the first game, were highly fancied to come good at the second time of asking. They were whopping favourites the first day out and again last weekend but this uber talented Towers team showed scant regard for that.
Towers, who were probably the better team over the course of the 80 plus minutes, had a sterling performer in Matthew Kelly, who finished with a tally of 1-1 and in general their tackling was superb. Indeed the tackling and blocking from both sides was impressive and even in extra time on such a heavy pitch, players from both teams but their bodies on the line for their teams.
Celbridge made two changes to the team that started the first day with Niall Kenny coming in for Ronan Byrne and Brian Nolan replacing Craig Mooney, while Towers started as selected.
It took some 16 minutes for the first score of the game and it went the way of Round Towers when Harry Seymour split the posts from out right but parity was restored soon after when Paddy Brophy converted a free.
Scres were very much so few and far between during the opening 30 minutes, defences were on top, passing was, at times, wayward, as was the shooting, particularly from Round Towers.
Celbridge midfield man Jason Doran put his side back in front with 21 played when his shot kissed the crossbar before going over, however, before the break a point from a free, courtesy of Matthew Kelly, left the sides level (0-2 to 0-2).
The second half proved to be a much different kind of affair. Celbridge drew first blood when Brophy sent over a free after Brian Nolan was impeded but when Aaron McConville fired over the sides were level once again.
Three points without reply courtesy of Jason Doran and Brophy (two frees) left Celbridge leading by three (0-6 to 0-3) by the end of the third quarter but then came the drama.
Towers quickly levelled up proceedings when a free from Evan Flynn came back off the cross bar and DJ Flynn was quickest to react to the loose ball and he finished low to the net to leave the score at 0-6 to 1-3 after 51 minutes.
With the next attack however, Celbridge hit the front again. A quick pass from Brophy picked out Craig Mooney and he unleashed a looping shot over the head of goalkeeper Peter Ennis to leave his side leading by three (1-6 to 1-3) once again.
Just five minutes later thought Towers had the ball in the back of the net for a second time when Matthew Kelly hit the onion bag. His initial shot was wonderfully saved by Colin Heeney and then Evan Flynn had a go but his rebounded effort was struck to the net by Kelly to leave the scoreboard reading 2-3 to 1-6.
Soon after substitute Rian O’Connor struck over to give Towers a one point lead with stoppage time looming but an injury to Charlie Ryan ensured a lengthy stoppage time period and allowed Celbridge the equaliser. The leveller came from Shane O’Flynn five minutes in and extra time beckoned.
Tominutes in to extra time Bryan Flynn got forward and split the posts to nudge the Hazelhatch Road side ahead but two superbly converted 45s from Jamie Flynn left Towers leading 2-6 to 1-8.
A point from Paddy Brophy after the change of ends completed the scoring in this epic encounter and once again it finished all square. A fair results after another epic encounter from these two young teams. A loss for either team would have been so so cruel.
Celbridge, Paddy Brophy 0-4 (3f), Craig Mooney 1-0, Jason Doran 0-1, Kevin Murphy 0-1, Jason Doran 0-1, Shane O’Flynn 0-1, Bryan Flynn 0-1.
Round Towers, Matthew Kelly 1-1 (1f), DJ Flynn 1-0, Jamie Flynn 0-2 (2 ’45’), Harry Seymour 0-1, Aaron McConville 0-1, Rian O’Connor 0-1.
Colin Heeney; Brian Flynn, Emmet Conaty, Eoghan Konstantin; Rory Feehan, Kevin Murphy, Paul Kelly; Jason Doran, David Mackey; Shane O’Flynn, Paddy Brophy, Brian Nolan; Niall Kenny, Gerry Keegan, Tomas Doolin. Subs: Ronan Byrne replaced T Doolin 16 mins, Craig Mooney replaced R Byrne 36 mins, Sean O’Regan replaced P Kelly 50 mins, Sean Clancy replaced N Kenny 61 mins, Anthony Byrne replaced R feehan 65 mins, Luke Geaney replaced D Mackey 78 mins.
Peter Ennis; Tadhg Meaney, Colin Scanlon, Bernard Ennis; James Flynn, Niall Fleming, David O’Neill; Mark Byrne, Conor Leavy; DJ Flynn, Harry Seymour, Evan Flynn; Matthew Kelly, Aaron McConville, Michael Murphy. Subs: Rian O’Connor replaced M Murphy 54 mins, Charlie Ryan replaced B Ennis 54 mins, Eoin Leavy replaced C Ryan (inj) 63 mins, Cathal Daffy replaced H Seymour 78 mins.