All Square in U16 Final

Pádraig Pearses 1-16 Mullagh/Kiltormer 3-10. Report by Martina Donnellan. Pearses U16’s were the bridesmaids for the entire first half in Thursday evenings U16B1 County Final but overturned a 6point deficit at half time and deep into additional time it was the Mullagh/Kiltormer side who had to convert a late free to draw the game. It has been a remarkable journey for Tony Walsh’s youthful squad who on their way lost their first 3 games of the Championship and lost heavily to the aristocratic power of Mullagh/Kiltormer in the group game earlier in the year. In the end, nobody could question the merit of this draw. It was as exciting as you would get.

Both sides exchanged early frees, Cian Murphy scored the first of his 10 frees after Niall McDonagh was fouled and the lethal Dean Finnerty converted for Mullagh/Kiltormer. Ethan Lally then went on a blazing run on the right flank but hit the side net. Orin Burke’s delivery into the corner was picked up by Ciano but he struck wide from play. Conor Kelly supplied the tonic as Luke Mitchell got on the end of a nice sideline cut floated into the danger area by Cian Murphy and although his goal attempt was blocked, Conor Kelly whipped on the loose ball to find the net. Immediately Mullagh/Kiltormer responded with a Conor Dolphin effort from play to leave Pearses in front 1-1 to 0-2 after 8 mins.

For the remainder of the half, Mullagh/Kiltormer were in commanding form. A long delivery from Cillian Finnerty hopped nicely for Dean Finnerty who whipped on the bouncing ball to drive past Harry Mitchell in goals. Both teams traded frees again; first Cialan Tully for Mullagh/Kiltormer and Cian Murphy for Pearses after he was fouled himself. Tully and Dean Finnerty added further frees while Ciano landed a whopper of a point from out near the stand side of the field. Mullagh/Kiltormer went 5 points ahead as Robert Hynes’ clearance was blocked down and while the ball was sent into the danger area Dean Finnerty again latched onto a delivery sent in and he beat a combination of defending from Brian Kelly and Mark Donnellan to lash home his 2nd goal and put them well in charge 2-5 to 1-3 on 17 mins.

Cian Murphy added his 3rd free after Ethan Lally was fouled and although Conor Dolphin who had been given the advantage by the ref put wide from play with three Pearses lads hanging off him, the ref awarded the free which was duly tapped over from an easy position by Finnerty. Luke Mitchell who worked tirelessly all through, flicked the ball nicely to Paddy Kenny who scored a lovely effort on the run with 27mins played. Luke Mitchell again in the thick of the action, passed to Paddy who in turn found Ethan and as Lally accelerated with space opening up for him, he was dragged back and Ciano converted his 4th free from close range to bring it back to a 3 point ball game.

It looked like Pearses were slowly clawing back the lead when another massive blow came just before half time. The ball broke in midfield and the delivery found Mullagh’s talisman Dean Finnerty who still had a lot of work to do to beat his marker Brian Kelly but he shook off the tackle and blasted confidently to the roof of the net to leave Pearses with an uphill climb in the second half. Half time: Mullagh/Kiltormer 3-6; Pearses 1-6.

Dean Finnerty pointed another free straight from the restart and suddenly a 7 point gap opened up. Then a long delivery was half won by Ciano, spilled to Orin Burke who found Paddy Kenny and he turned over a lovely point. Finnerty missed two points, one from play and uncharacteristically missed a free to give Pearses some hope. Orin Burke’s long delivery into the square found Murf who went for the jugular but saw his effort saved and as Darragh Roche latched onto the loose ball, he appeared to have won a 65’ but the ref awarded a free out instead. In the next 6mins Ciano converted 4 frees as Orin Burke andamp;amp; Luke Mitchell respectively were both fouled twice.

Suddenly, it was a 2 point ball game with 41 mins gone. Pearses seemed to have weathered the storm when Conor Kelly pulled it back to 1 point as Orin Burke won the ball in a shemozzle and found Kelly with the pass. Cian Murphy seemed to have levelled matters with a long distance effort from midfield but the ball tailed wide. With an incredible Pearses finish, Ciano drew the game with his 9th free after Luke Mitchell was fouled in a run through the centre and Ciano made no mistake with the resultant free on 47mins. A Dean Finnerty free pushed Mullagh/Kiltormer ahead by one and then Pearses received a let-off as Cian Daly throttled up the stand side of the field but his effort from an acute angle whizzed right across the face of goal. Finnerty converted another free to push Mullagh/Kiltormer 2points ahead while Ciano was wide with a free up the other end.

Great work from Conor Kelly underneath the stand saw his delivery cleanly fetched by Orin Burke whose over the shoulder effort sailed neatly over to set up a marathon finish with 53 mins played. ??Orin Burke then with two lads on him did well to win the ball, run towards the end line drawing 3 players on him and somehow managed to get the pass out to Paddy Kenny who went for goal but was fouled in the process and Cian Murphy converted the free to draw up the game 3-9 to 1-15. Pearses took the lead for the first time since the early exchanges of the game as Darragh Roche accepted Orin Burke’s pass and worked his way into a scoreable position on 57mins.

Paddy Kenny had a pop from a difficult angle but his effort went wide, just as good as a score if they could keep the Mullagh/ Kiltormer lads from getting on the ball. Ciano who was now deployed in the half back line sent in a long clearance which was well fetched by Luke Mitchell who found David Hillary who in fact did a lot of donkey work around midfield/ half forward line throughout the game with some great blocks, hassles and harries. David went for goal when the point might have been the easier option. With 61.22 on the clock Mark Donnellan fouled and Finnerty made no mistake with the resultant free to tie the game up at 1-16 to 3-9. With 63 mins gone Finnerty had a pop at goal but his effort was well blocked down by Luke Mitchell and so the incredible contest finished level: Pearses 1-16; Mullagh/ Kiltormer 3-9.

In the end it was great for both teams to snatch a draw in what was an almighty Pearses comeback spearheaded by some perfect free taking by Cian Murphy. It was really in the 2nd half that Pearses hit form and well eclipsed their first half display. Both teams meet for the replay fixed for Monday night under lights in Duggan Park, 8pm throw in.

Scorers: Cian Murphy 0-11 (0-10f); Conor Kelly 1-1; Paddy Kenny 0-2; Orin Burke 0-1; Darragh Roche 0-1.

Team: Harry Mitchell, Robert Fahy, Mark Donnellan, Oisin Donohue, Paddy Kenny, Robert Hynes, Jack Reilly, Orin Burke, Brian Kelly, Ethan Lally, Cian Murphy, David Hillary, Niall McDonagh, Luke Mitchell, Conor Kelly, Darragh Roche, Conor Moran, Eanna Cunniffe, Peter O’Neill, Ollie Laheen, Ronan Hynes, Anthony Feeney. (Taken from the match programme although the team did not line out as such)