Éire Óg 2-05
By Michael O Connor.
The odds were stacked very much against Eire-og as Kilmaley had competed in the previous three minor A finals and possess some of the best young talent in the county. For their part Eire-og had overcame Newmarket and Ballyea to reach the decider but this was their greatest exam to date.
Cian Moloney and Paraic McNamara were for the Kilmaley side the go to men for scores whilst the Kennedy's and O Malley the lightening torches that created problems. Conor Cleary is the playmaker from the deep as Brian Cahill, Aidan McGuane and Shane Lynch control matters in the last 30 metres. Eire-og needed scores from Shane O Donnell, not just a scoremaker role, Conor O Halloran, Einne O Connor, Nathan Murray and Dara Walsh.
Cian Moloney and Conor O Halloran exchanged the opening points after two minutes before Einne O Connor hit the rebound from a saved Shane O Donnell goal effort past Conan Fitzgerald for the game's first goal. This was a major fillip for the townies but they failed to build on this boost with even a point. Kilmaley got down to action awoken by this early unwanted setback. Moloney (2 ) and Aidan Kennedy, all from play had the sides on level terms by the 12th minute. Shane O Donnell had a roving role which in many ways delighted Kilmaley as he was often away from the last quarter of the pitch. The winners kept the succession of unanswered scores coming with five more well taken efforts from Conor Finucane, Cian Moloney (2), Michael O Malley and Eamonn Bracken to surge them (0-10) to (1-1) clear with seven minutes left in the opening half. Indeed, O Malley had a nasty collision with the concrete entering the tunnel and was lucky to be able to play on and perhaps a little foolhardy that he was not retired when the game was won with 15 minutes to go.
Shane O Donnell was viewed at one stage at left corner back such was the pressure placed on Eire-og by the Kilmaley men. After 23 minutes Eire-og were fortunate to be just six points in arrears as their defensive game had worked to some degree but still Kilmaley had pace whenever in possession. O Donnell managed to get upfield for a well needed Ennis point in the 27th minute and managed a second just before the half time whistle as Aidan Kennedy and Cian Moloney also struck over minors to leave Kilmaley coasting (0-12) to (1-3) ahead. Granted, the strong breeze was now favouring Eire-og in the second half but unlike the other finals played over the weekend it was only a small part of what Eire-og needed to haul themselves back into contention. Goals on the treble would be needed to even allow the Ennis men to contemplate winning the title.
The Ennis side's management rung the changes for the second half as Shane O Donnell struck for a early second half score that only served as a false dawn for his side. Cian Moloney responded with a like score before Aidan Kennedy tore loose for the entire second half burning any Eire-og marker with pace. He got in a shot saved by Sean Smyth but Sean O Loughlin pounced on the rebound and Kilmaley raced (1-13) to (1-4) clear. Nathan Murray who had being scorer in chief for Eire-og in the semi final failed to even hit one score and the pace got to him and others from Eire-og and he was replaced in the last quarter. Conor O Halloran struck for a well worked point before a brace of points from Cian Moloney after 48 minutes. Kieran Malone hit for a goal after a minutes pressure on the Kilmaley goal and how seven points was the deficit for Eire-og to make up. Malone went close a minute later with another goal chance but this was the last score or chance of score in the game as Kilmaley hit (2-2) without reply which was probably a little unfair on Eire-og due to their honest effort.
Paraic McNamara and Barry Lynch were the point takers as Eamonn Bracken and Aidan Kennedy raced clear for goals as the pressure on the Eire-og defence was unbearable in the last five minutes. Soon, it was over and the champions were confirmed and indeed it was some sort of relief for Eire-og that the agony was over even though in reflection they will rightfully see their place in the final as progress at senior level.
KILMALEY: Conan Fitzgerald, Darragh McMahon, Shane Lynch, Aidan McGuane, Conor Finucane, Conor Cleary, Brian Cahill, Sean Kennedy, Michael O Malley (0-1), Cian Moloney (0-9), Paraic McNamara (0-1), Eamonn Bracken (1-1), Aidan Kennedy (1-3), Darragh Gregan, Sean O Loughlin (1-0). Subs: Barry Lynch (0-1) for Gregan, Cian O Ceallaigh for A Kennedy, Joe Carmody for Finucane, Shane O Malley for O Loughlin, Sean Murphy for S Kennedy.
EIRE-OG: Sean Smyth, Jack Keating, David Neylon, Tadgh Connellan, Liam Corry, Dara Walsh, Kieran Malone (1-0), Cian Darcy, Nathan Murray, Conor O Halloran (0-2), Eimhin Courtney, Einne O Connor (1-0), Shane O Donnell (0-3), Michael Moloney. James Woods for Smyth.
Martin Darcy for Brennan, Liam Lynch for O COnnor, David McNamara for Courtney, Ciaran MacMathuna for Murray,
Referee: Jim Hickey (Cratloe).
After the game county secretary Pat Fitzgerald presented the Under 21A cup to Kilmaley captain Conor Cleary who paid a wholesome tribute to all who had worked from Under 10 right up to this years management team in developing the best underage club side in the county over the last three years.