U14s into County A1 Final

Pearses 1-10 Ahascragh-Fohenagh 1-9: Report by Martina Donnellan. Pearses brave young U14’s prevailed in a tit for tat clash with Ahascragh-Fohenagh as they earned their way to the U14 A1 final with a fantastic 1 point victory in an absorbing contest in Ballinasloe yesterday evening. Pearses came away with the win thanks to Paddy Kenny’s late winner, a converted 65’ which was won by Oliver Laheen. It sent Nollaig andamp;amp; Andrea and the Pearses contingent in the stand doolally, capping off a great Pearses comeback in which they made up a 2 point deficit in the closing 6 minutes and overturned the 5 point loss at the group stages. The 4 minutes of additional time played were tense, tight and full of passion from both teams; comrades at school but yet club rivals on the pitch.

Both teams exchanged frees within the first 3 minutes; Paddy Kenny for Pearses after Darragh Roche’s tenacious battling won him the free and Andrew Fitzgerald for our neighbours. Fitzgerald added another from play. Orin Burke pointed from play after a smashing overhead pass from Ronan Hynes to Anthony Feeney who sent the ball into the forward line but as the supply was cut off by Ahascragh’s defending it fell nicely for Orin to level matters on 5mins. Ahascragh opened up a 3 point lead following Mickey Mulryan’s probing run through the centre of the field and he lashed the ball low and hard as the bounce evaded Harry Mitchell in goal.

Orin was wide with a free after Cilly Fahey was fouled while Burke fetched the resultant puck out and sent it into space for Darragh Roche who struck off his left for a sweet point. Orin Burke then sprayed in a lovely 50/50 ball between Cilly Fahey and his man and as Fahey was clearly pushed Seamus Goldrick signalled a free which Paddy Kenny converted. Ahascragh replied with 2 points; Andrew Fitzgerald from play and a Mickey Mulryan free from almost midfield to open up a 3 point lead once more over half way through the first half.

Pearses responded well as Cilly Fahey pointed after Paddy Kenny did well to spot him unmarked 35 yards out. Pearses were offered a lifeline when Cailum Finnerty’s goal chance went wide after a great passage of play from Ahascragh-Fohenagh. Then Pearses scored a tonic goal as too many players got sucked towards a throw-in and Orin somehow gathered the ball in the ruck and laid off a killer pass to Paddy Kenny who rattled the roof of the net and put Pearses 1 point up to seize the upper hand, if only momentarily. Cailum Finnerty immediately replied with a good point from play as the ball was worked up the field and he levelled matters for the 2nd time on 17mins. Andrew Fitzgerald converted a placed ball before Orin Burke drew an almighty diving save from Nathan Dolan in the Ahascragh goals after Cillian Fahey was instrumental in the move. The last 3 minutes saw nothing more in terms of scores as the half ended with Ahascragh 1 point up. Pearses 1-5; Ahascragh-Fohenagh 1-6.

Within the first minute of the restart Andrew Fitzgerald added another free to push Ahascragh’s lead to 2points. Dara Scarry put wide at the other end after a quickly taken free from Paddy Kenny; the ref having initially waved the advantage but Cilly Fahey had put his effort wide. Anthony Feeney who was busily effective all day was fouled and Paddy put over the resultant free. Harry Mitchell then had to be alert to a high lobbing ball from Ahascragh and as Jack Reilly’s long clearance from defence found its way to Feeney and although bottled up, he somehow got the pass away to Ollie Laheen whose ground stroke went harmlessly wide. Darragh Roche did the donkey work for Orin to tap over and tie the game for the third time at 1-7 apiece.

Andrew Fitzgerald’s free followed by a stroke from Mickey Mulryan on the run put Ahascragh two points in front again. Pearses turned the game once more with two great efforts from play; Ronan Hynes found Ollie Laheen and Orin Burke hand passed to Paddy Kenny who both found the range after some lovely movement. The game was tied for the 4th time at 1-9 apiece. Then Oliver Laheen put Orin straight through on goal but the goalie saved well from point blank range and while Laheen followed up the play he whipped on the ground to see his effort deflect off one of the defenders, out for a 65’. With 21’32 on the clock in Duggan Park, Paddy Kenny’s 65’ sailed beautifully over the crossbar.
Pearses held out as Jack Reilly came out the field and Conor Kelly held the line in defense for the latter stages as Pearses seen out the victory on the slenderest of margins as the gallant Ahascragh- Fohenagh lads fell to their knees in total dejection. The Pearses lads also on their knees with immense joy so much so that when they looked towards heaven, there was an inflated effigy of 5 heads over Duggan Park – that of Eddie Mitchell, Martin Scarry, Sean O’Neill, Tony Walsh and of course physio Alan.

In many ways, it was a typical derby fare – some quality moments and splendid viewing – not least the 1-5 scored by Paddy Kenny and his winner deep into stoppage time. The close man marking from the entire defence lines and the tenacious battling from every player in a black jersey won this game in the finest style this evening.

Scorers: Paddy Kenny 1-5 (0-3F; 0-1 65’); Orin Burke 0-2; Darragh Roche 0-1; Oliver Laheen 0-1; Cillian Fahey 0-1.

Panel: Harry Mitchell, Cormac Hillary, Jack Reilly, Conor Hillary, David Walsh, Conor Kelly, Jonah Donnellan, Orin Burke, Paddy Kenny, Oliver Laheen, Anthony Feeney, Ronan Hynes, Darragh Roche, Cilly Fahey, Dara Scarry, Dillon Roche, Padraic Kelly, Conor Walsh, Patrick O’Neill, Cathal Hynes, James Queeney, Cian Burke, Diarmuid Ryan.