2002 Westmeath Under 21 Championship Final

Caulry/Castledaly take first ever Under-21 title

Caulry/Castledaly 2-11
St. Loman’s, Mullingar 0-10

First-time finalists Caulry/ Castledaly captured the 2002 U-21 FC title at Tyrrellspass last Saturday with this impressive victory over St Loman’s, who were also seeking their first title at this grade. 
It was a deserved victory for the south Westmeath outfit, who produced a controlled, high-quality performance. St Loman’s played their part in what was an entertaining final, but had no answer when their opponents upped the intensity levels in the second half. 
While St Loman’s were slightly wasteful in front of goal in the second half, there was no question about the superior team on the day. The scores were level at half-time (1-4 to 0-7), but Caulry/Castledaly were denied what looked a certain penalty during the opening half. 
Although this final was played in 2003, this victory rounds off a good 2002 season for Caulry, as they also captured the Junior Championship. For Castledaly, the title made up for defeats in the senior county final and the Feis Cup final, where they fell to last Saturday’s opponents. 
Conquerors of Garrycastle in the semi-final, St Loman’s will have been disappointed not to have added this title to their Feis Cup success last year. 
While patrons had to admire Tyrrellspass GAA’s splendid new clubhouse, which was opened last week, the absence of a stand on a day when rain looked likely hardly met with similar approval. Mercifully, the rain stayed away for the duration of the encounter. 
The pitch was wet, with large puddles at one end in particular, so it was a tribute to both teams that we witnessed such an stimulating spectacle. 
Playing in the red and white of Caulry, the south Westmeath side welcomed back Westmeath senior panelist Ken Larkin, who missed the semi-final win over Clann Braonáin through injury. 
St Loman’s were without the services of Declan Lambden, while a dodgy ankle prevented county minor player Paul Martin from starting, although he did make an appearance as a sub. 
There was a unity in the Caulry/Castledaly (C/C) performance not often associated with combination teams. Alan Carroll, who bagged 1-4, did most of the damage on the scoreboard. His early goal gave his side an ideal start and he was the only forward from his team to score in the first half. If Carroll delivered a man-of-the-match performance, there were no shortage of other contenders for such an accolade. 
Ken Larkin, particularly in the second half, oozed class and assurance at full-back. Given that he has just turned 17, Adrian Kelly showed remarkable maturity in coping with the threat posed by the promising David Windsor. The ceaseless excellence of the C/C half-back line of Enda Kelly, Eddie Egan and Brian Mullarney made it extremely difficult for Loman’s to get an adequate supply of ball to their inside forwards. 
Gary Flanagan and Leo Fallon gave their side an edge around the midfield of the field, despite the presence of the highly-rated Loman’s pairing of Gary Glennon and Kieran Kilmurray. 
Corner-forward Alan Kelly, who notched 1-1, also produced an excellent display. After an ineffectual first half, Niall Duffy became a different proposition in the second period and the upturn in his form was a vital factor in his team’s improvement. 
For St Loman’s, too much rested on the shoulders of Colin Whyte, who finished with 7 points. Only one other Loman’s player - Niall McGurren - managed to score from play and that was never likely to be sufficient on the day. 
Robbie Daly, who made two inspirational catches in the second half, put in a solid day’s work at centre-back. There were some good moments from a number of Loman’s players, but they were too fleeting to achieve the necessary impact. 

Dream start
Caulry/Castledaly got the start every team hopes for. In the 2nd minute, some loose covering by the Loman’s defence presented Alan Carroll with a goal chance and the Caulry man made no mistake, hitting a low shot to the net. 
This setback strung Loman’s into action and they achieved parity by the 6th minute. A superb point by Niall McGurren got them off the mark, Colin Whyte converted a free and then Kieran Kilmurray hit a sideline ball unerringly between the posts. Leo Fallon edged his side back in front in the 8th minute after good work by Brian Mullarney. 
St. Loman’s chief problem in the opening half was the inability of their defenders to bring the ball safely out of their own defence. When Loman’s failed to clear their lines in the 11th minute, it led to Alan Carroll trotting down the wing and bisecting the posts in nonchalant fashion. 
In the 12th minute. Loman’s half-forward Paddy Dowdall cut in incisively from the flanks, but his ambitious goal attempt was easily gathered by Conor Allen. At the other end, Alan Carroll made sure another trip down the left wing ended in a score. 
A moment of controversy arose in the 17th minute. Again, the security measures of the St Loman’s rearguard were far from adequate and Carroll sneaked inside the full-back-line once more. The Loman’s keeper was hell bent on avoiding the concession of another goal but his method of keeping his net intact was surely illegal as he appeared to trip Carroll. Carroll managed to shoot for goal while on the ground but Senan Russell brilliantly blocked his effort. 
Boosted by this let-off, St. Loman’s hit two points (both from Whyte) in quick succession to leave the match all square by the 25th minute. Level pegging was the state of affairs at the interval as well after Fallon (sideline ball) and Whyte swapped points. 
First blood went to Loman’s in the second half, when Colin Whyte showed great strength to hold off a couple of challenges before hitting the target. It was the only time in the game St. Loman’s led. 

The next score, five minutes after the resumption, would prove crucial. Niall Duffy drove a shot goalwards and Alan Kelly doubled on it with a beautiful flick to the net. 
C/C built on this score and, by the 43rd minute, they were 2-7 to 0-8 in front. Two of the points came from the increasingly influential Niall Duffy, with the other supplied by Alan Carroll, who continued his hot streak of scoring form. 
With the Caulry/Castledaly defence proving adept at denying their opponents space and time on the ball, St. Loman’s were forced to work very hard for their scores in the second half. By contrast, C/C were able to find the target without expending the same reserves of energy. The constant harrying and hassling of the C/C players put the Loman’s players under severe pressure and mistakes inevitably followed.
The battle between two players who look destined to excel for the Westmeath senior team in years to come - Ken Larkin and Colin Whyte - continue to offer an intriguing sideshow. With Whyte finding it difficult to win clean possession against the excellent Larkin, the Loman’s dangerman went out around the ‘40’in an effort to spark a revival. 
The Mullingar side’s next score didn’t arrive till the 46th minute. Again, it was Whyte who showed the way with a truly wonderful score. 
But C/C always had a bit in reserve and points by Carroll, Flanagan and Alan Kelly brought the cushion to six points. In the last minute of normal time, came a move which neatly capped an excellent team performance. Adrian Kelly took the ball out of danger near his own goal and the ball was worked from deep in the C/C defence right up to corner-forward Damien Doyle, who slotted over an easy point. 

Afterwards, Caulry/Castledaly joint captains Graham Young and Alan Carroll were presented with the U-21 championship trophy by Denis Coyne, chairman of Westmeath Football Board. 

Scorers for Caulry/Castledaly: Alan Carroll 1-4, Alan Kelly 1-1, Leo Fallon 0-2 (1 sideline ball), Niall Duffy 0-2, Gary Flanagan and Damien Doyle 0-1 each.
Scorers for St. Loman’s: Colin Whyte 0-7 (4f), Niall McGurren 0-2, Kieran Kilmurray 0-1 (sideline ball).

Caulry/Castledaly: Conor Allen; Adrian Kelly, Ken Larkin, Willie Buckley; Enda Kelly, Eddie Egan, Brian Mullarney; Leo Fallon, Gary Flanagan; Alan Rigney, Niall Duffy, Alan Carroll; Alan Kelly, Niall Kelly, Damien Doyle. 
Subs: Graham Young for Carroll. 

St. Loman’s, Mullingar: Stephen Gallagher; John Brady, Mark Syron, Declan Lynch; Senan Russell, Robbie Daly, Adam Carroll; Gary Glennon, Kieran Kilmurray; Paddy Dowdall, Niall McGurren, Benny Marshall; Brian Tyrrell, Colin Whyte, David Windsor. 
Subs: Paul Martin for Dowdall, Timmy Hill for Carroll, David Dunican for Tyrrell.

Referee: Michael Gordon.

Extracted from the Westmeath Examiner Archives, 6th March 2003.
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