Galtee Rovers' Emmet Bonner is tackled by Golden Kilfeacle's Lee Hayes during the county under 17 (minor) B football championship final in Annacarty. Picture: Michael Boland
Golden Kilfeacle 1-12 Galtee Rovers 1-6 (after extra-time)
In what was a repeat of the west final, Golden Kilfeacle avenged their defeat by Galtee Rovers in that divisional decider in today's county under 17 (minor) B football championship final, a game that went to extra-time in Annacarty.
It was no wonder that both teams were out on their feet when the last whistle blew. They had given it everything throughout the 80-plus minutes and while the football may not have been of the highest standard, the sides served up a highly entertaining clash for the large attendance that gathered on a sunny but cold afternoon.
Golden looked in trouble in the early stages, especially when they found themselves five points in arrears in the second quarter. Rovers made the first significant breakthrough of the game in the second quarter when one of their main men, captain Eoin Halpin, lobbed a shot that the misfortunate Golden goalie Tyler Barry let slip through his fingers and over the line.
When Halpin followed up his goal with a converted free from the hands a minute later, Rovers were ahead by 1-5 to 0-3 and firmly in control.
Remarkably, however, that was to be the Bansha team's last score for 48 minutes, until the first period of extra time. By that stage they were four points down and chasing a cause that, if it wasn't entirely lost, was one that offered only a very slim chance of success.
Golden Kilfeacle showed great character and resilience to battle back from that five points deficit. Ben Currivan began the comeback with a converted free that left them in arrears by 1-5 to 0-4 at half-time, and with an amount of work to do in a game that was always fiercely contested.
However they came out with the bit between the teeth for the second half. Their talisman and captain Ben Currivan found the target in the third minute and another point a minute later from Lee Hayes, when he collected Jack Bergin's pass, meant they were just two points behind and right back in the game.
As Golden continued to press in search of scores, Brian Marnane had a shot deflected for a 45, while Rovers 'keeper Robbie McGrath saved Sam Hall's effort, even if McGrath had covering defenders behind him.
This wasn't the only time that the Bansha goalie had come to his team's rescue; he had also made a great save from Sam Hall in the opening quarter.
Golden lost Jason Morey to a black card as the second half progressed. But his departure didn't stall their momentum. Lee Hayes kicked a point in the 44th minute to leave the game nicely poised at 1-5 to 0-7 at the second water break.
An accurate Ben Currivan free ensured it was all square with 12 minutes of normal time remaining. However each team also missed chances to seize control, with Rovers kicking seven wides in the second half alone, a period during which Golden had five wides, and there was no further score before referee Donie Horan brought normal time to a conclusion.
The best opportunity for a winner in those closing stages fell to Golden but Robbie McGrath once again came to Rovers' rescue, blocking Lee Hayes' low effort.
A fine point from Ben Currivan three minutes into extra-time gave Golden Kilfeacle the lead for the first time. From there they never looked back. Within a minute they had produced the contest's decisive moment, Jack Bergin cutting in from the right wing and unleashing a fierce shot to the net to put them ahead by 1-9 to 1-5.
Sam Hall converted a free a couple of minutes later to extend their advantage to five points. Eoin Halpin briefly offered Rovers hope when he had their first score in 48 minutes. But they didn't disturb the scoreboard again.
Another point from Ben Currivan made it 1-11 to 1-6 at half-time in extra-time, and even with ten minutes remaining it was difficult to envisage Golden being overhauled.
Sam Hall popped over a free following a foul on Ben Currivan in the 72nd minute for the only score in the second period of extra-time, and Golden were relatively comfortable from there to the finish.
The danger was eventually cleared when a shot from Lee Hayes went close, as Golden threatened to extend their advantage. However they didn't need any more scores, as they eased their way towards the finish line.
Galtee Rovers pushed hard in the closing minutes in a desperate attempt to salvage something from the game. Goalkeeper Robbie McGrath flashed a shot wide when he joined a late attack but the game was gone well beyond them at that stage.
Golden Kilfeacle were worthy winners, especially for the manner in which they hauled themselves back into contention after their early difficulties. By the end they had completed an eleven-point turnaround, converting a five-point deficit into a six-point winning margin.
Once they settled following a slow start, they showed greater resolve than Galtee Rovers and gradually wore down their opponents over the course of this lengthy tussle. Ben Currivan was their top scorer and main source of inspiration, his surging solo runs and points lifting those around him.
However it was by no means a one-man show. Lee Hayes kicked three important points while Jack Bergin's well-taken goal was crucial.
Sam Hall's three converted frees were also important while Eanna Ormond, Jack Lonergan and Gavin Dalton were others who impressed, as they added the county championship title to their county league title.
Galtee Rovers must be wondering how they lost their way in a final in which they were the superior side in the first half. Three points from Eoin Halpin, including two from frees, gave them a 0-3 to no score lead by the tenth minute. Points from Ben Currivan and Lee Hayes finally got Golden Kilfeacle motoring before Daniel O'Dwyer's point made it 0-4 to 0-2 by the first water break.
Having watched four shots drop short before they were collected by Robbie McGrath, Golden had also struck the upright in the early exchanges. At the beginning of the second quarter McGrath made another important save, this time from Ben Currivan, before a Sam Hall free left only a point between them.
When Galtee Rovers struck 1-1 within the space of a few minutes, they were well placed to kick on from there. But they would never have realised that they would manage to score just one more point all afternoon. Not only did their scores dry up but only two players, Eoin Halpin and Daniel O'Dwyer, were on the scoresheet.
Eoin Halpin led the charge early on, although Golden eventually succeeded in cutting off his supply of ball and curbing his threat.
Eoghan Byrnes and Tadhg Gubbins battled hard in defence, while Emmet Bonnar and Alex Harold Barry gave them plenty of options going forward. Daniel O'Dwyer, Conal Grogan and Cian O'Dwyer also stood out for Rovers.
A minute's silence was observed before the start in memory of murdered Offaly schoolteacher Ashling Murphy.
Golden Kilfeacle: Tyler Barry, Aidan Tuohy, Cian Ryan, Padraig Dalton, Ciaran Byrne, Jack Lonergan, Eanna Ormond, Brian Marnane, Bobby Smith, Jack Bergin (1-0), Ben Currivan (captain 0-6, 2 frees), Aaron Colohan, Sam Hall (0-3 frees), Jason Morey, Lee Hayes (0-3).
Substitutes: Gavin Dalton for Brian Marnane, Jack Dalton for Bobby Smith, Ryan McKnight for Aaron Colohan, Colin Tuohy for Aidan Tuohy, Kevin Hogan for Sam Hall.
Galtee Rovers: Robbie McGrath, Eoghan Byrnes, Ciaran McCarthy, Tadhg Gubbins, Emmet Bonnar, Evan Kennedy, Alex Harold Barry, Daniel O'Dwyer (0-1), Liam Finnane, Joe O'Callaghan, Conal Grogan, Cian O'Dwyer, Jack Crowe, Eoin Halpin (captain 1-5, 0-4 frees), Dermot McCarthy.
Substitutes: Cian Collins for Dermot McCarthy, Josh O'Dwyer for Jack Crowe, Lucas Boles for Emmet Bonnar.
Referee: Donie Horan (Eire Og Annacarty/Donohill).
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