Junior Football Championship Semi-Final

Kildimo/Pallaskenry 3-6 Fr. Casey’s 1-8

We are in a County Final!! It’s been a long time coming, but we have finally got over the semi-final hurdle after heartbreaking defeats in 2015 and 2016, and we are in a Junior A County Final, with a real chance of going Intermediate next year. The club is in a great place at the moment, flying in both hurling and football and at underage level and this result just proves that point! Again, it was our ability to get goals as well as constant work rate and tenacious defending which got us over the line.

There is also plenty of room for improvement ahead of the final; we were far from our best in the first half as a very talented Fr. Casey’s side dominated possession. They hit us with a sucker punch of a goal very early on, and held onto the ball well after that. But to be fair to our lads, while not having much of the ball, we were very patient in defence and forced our opponents into some stupid shots as they racked up a number of wides from distance. Darragh Deegan finally got us on the scoresheet with a good point from play after a run down the left-hand side. But although we gained parity around the middle of the field for maybe five minutes, Fr. Casey’s power on again and eventually they started to tag on a couple of scores.

With less than ten minutes to go in the first half, we trailed by six points and still only had a single point on the board. But the lads never panicked and pulled themselves right back into contention before the break. The likes of Lorcan O’Leary won some good ball around the middle of the field, Darragh Deegan was a constant threat with his powerful running while the likes of Bob McKeogh, Conor Staff and Mossy Sheehan were constantly looking to drive us forward. A brilliant run by Darragh Deegan, this time in from the right wing saw the defence part for the first time; he popped the past to Peter Nash who came inside, danced away from his marker and finished superbly by smashing the ball with his left foot high and past the goalkeeper.

It was a much-needed boost before the break, and this was followed by a very well-struck free from the boot of Shaun Barry. We continued to defend patiently yet tenaciously, although the men from Abbeyfeale would add another point before the break. Having not really played much actual football, and knowing that we could do a lot better, we only tailed by three points at the break on a scoreline of: Kildimo/Pallaskenry 1-2 Fr. Casey’s 1-5.

Early in the second half, we repelled a couple of early Fr. Casey’s opportunities before we got the first score of the half, another well-taken free from Shaun Barry. Fr. Casey’s edged the lead back out to three points again but we were putting a lot more pressure on our opponents now and the likes of Brian Howard and Mossy Sheehan were putting in a number of tackles and sweeping up loose ball. A quick ball played in as far as substitute, Kyle Hayes, saw him get out in front and win it before releasing into the path of Lorcan O’Leary, who finished smartly to the back of the net, levelling the game for the first time. Fr. Casey’s were reduced to 14 men shortly after, for a second yellow card offence on Darren O’Connell as he looked to take on the defence. But despite this, it was Fr. Casey’s who would respond better to the red card and knocked over the next two scorers to reclaim the lead.

But those would be their last scores in the game and we showed great composure, skill and experience to get the scores we needed to win the game. A beautiful piece of skill from Peter Nash, picking the ball up on the run saw him drive towards goal on the left side. He was at a tight angle, so played the ball across the goal and although the keeper got a touch to attempt to divert the ball away from danger, Kyle Hayes was in the right place at the right time to finish the ball into the back of the net and give us the lead for the first time in the game! From there, momentum was with us and we saw the game out excellently. Moments after the goal, Brian Howard brilliantly intercepted the ball and found Lorcan O’Leary in space, with Lorcan adding to his earlier goal with a point from play.

The likes of Tony McCarthy, Peter Nash, Keel Moloney, Darren O’Connell and Kyle Hayes got on a huge amount of ball in the closing stages, showing really leadership as well as supreme fitness. Another brilliant run from Darren O’Connell, which had caused problems throughout the second half, saw him scythe through the Fr. Casey’s defence and fire straight over the black spot on the run. And after Tony McCarthy brilliantly won an opposition kickout, he played the ball down the line and the ball came to Darragh Deegan who cut inside and fired over the bar to open the gap out to four points, the cushion that we needed.

There were goal chances at both ends before the end. A dangerous Fr. Casey’s attack could definitely have resulted in goal but there was some great tracking back, from Peter Nash in particular, to swarm the attacker as he looked to score. Down the other end, the ball was brilliantly worked into the path of James Pomeroy but his attempt at goal was denied by a fantastic block. But it was to be our night, and the referee finally blew the whistle to confirm our place in the Junior A Football Final, for the first time since getting promoted to this grade! Let’s hope our hurlers will be in a similar position after the weekend!

Well done to all involved, it was a fine performance, particularly in the second half! Again, many thanks to the players, particularly those who travelled long distances on a week night to make the match, your efforts are much appreciated! Our supporters were in fine voice and really drove us on in the second half, many thanks to all of you also! And to our management of Noel McCarthy, Killian O’Leary and Sean Cuddihy; well done on a fine achievement! We now face Cappamore in the County Final; date and venue to be confirmed. We’ll keep you posted! What a win... and let's hope there's one more big victory o come in the final!

Team: John Chawke; Evan Carroll, Stephen Hodnett, Brian Howard; Mossy Sheehan, Tony McCarthy, Barry Walsh; Keel Moloney, Bob McKeogh; Liam O’Sullivan, Shaun Barry (0-2, frees), Conor Staff; Darragh Deegan (0-2), Lorcan O’Leary (1-1), Peter Nash (1-0)

Subs: Darragh Walsh for Stephen Hodnett (22 mins); Darren O’Connell (0-1) for Liam O’Sullivan (half-time); Kyle Hayes (1-0) for Conor Staff (black card, 33 mins); James Pomeroy for Shaun Barry (49 mins); Tommy O’Connor for Darragh Deegan (60 mins)