2006 Leinster Junior Club Championship Semi-Final

Disappointment for Caulry as Leinster title dreams die  

PARK-RATHENESKA (Laois) 1-11
CAULRY 1-7 

An inspirational second-half performance from Caulry fell just short of overturning a nine-point deficit which their opponents, Park-Ratheneska of Laois, had held with 20 minutes to go at Mount Temple last Sunday afternoon.

Having dominated the first half, Park-Ratheneska enjoyed a comprehensive 1-6 to 0-2 advantage over Caulry at the interval. And once the Laois side tagged on two further points upon the resumption of the second half, it looked as though Caulry would capitulate.
Not so as the home side plucked up the courage from somewhere to rattle in 1-5 in the space of eleven minutes to leave a solitary point between the teams with just eight minutes remaining on the clock.

But having given it everything in the second half, Caulry finally ran out of steam and allowed Park-Ratheneska to tag on the insurance points in injury-time.
The game began ominously for Caulry as the Park-Ratheneska’s full-forward line wreaked havoc in the opening 10 minutes.
Seamie Flanagan opened the scoring with the first attack of the day and five minutes later the day’s first goal arrived when John Kelly picked up a breaking ball on the 21 yard line ran clean through and, despite having two team-mates in support, placed the ball coolly to the corner of the net.
Caulry finally got off the mark when a Gary Flanagan pass reached Anslem Fitzgerald who tapped the ball over the bar.
But Park-Ratheneska replied straight away with a point from Kelly. Kelly and full-forward Tommy Bowe were proving to be quite a handful for the Caulry full-back line.
Two further Park-Ratheneska points on 15 minutes, one from Kelly and one from Ciaran Delaney, competed a tremendous start by the Laois champions.
On 20 minutes, Caulry got their second of the game when a superb cross-field ball from Johnny Dolan gave Gary Flanagan the simple task of tapping over the bar.
Then two minutes later the Westmeath champions were cursing their luck when a defence-splitting pass from Anslem Fitzgerald found Mark Malone one-on-one with the Park-Ratheneska ‘keeper. But Malone’s effort cannoned back off the upright and the chance had gone.
Caulry were doing their best to stay in touch but two more Park-Ratheneska points (from Cathal O’Green and Ciaran Delaney) in the dying moments of the half put seven points between the sides at the break at half-time and left the home side with an uphill battle in the second-half.
After four minutes of second half play, Caulry again should have raised a green flag when Mark Rigney collected a high ball in around the square, rounded his man and shot for goal. But his shot was somewhat timid and the Park-Ratheneska goalie saved easily. 

It was a good start to the second half by the Mount Temple side but their opponents were proving to be much more economical in goal as shown when Ciaran Delaney fired over two quick-fire points after seven minutes of second-half play. It looked ominous for Caulry. But then came the revival.
On 40 minutes Mark Rigney fisted a point and that was followed up on 45 minutes by a nice score swung over by Peter Smith.
In between those two points Mark Rigney had a great chance of a goal when the hop of the ball beat a defender and left him running clean through on goal. But panicking slightly, Rigney opted to the volley the ball instead of gathering it in and his effort flew wide.
On 47 minutes Gary Flanagan, now operating at full-forward, picked up possession outside the 21 yard line and decided to take on the Park-Ratheneska defence on his own. And after beating three of them he looked certain to goal but his shot also flew agonisingly wide of the mark.
There was only one team in it now but still not much headway was being made. Enter Johnny Dolan. The corner forward fired over his first of the day on 49 minutes, although he was going for goal and the ball did skim the crossbar. 
A minute later he swung over another and after a further 60 seconds he grabbed a spectacular goal as Caulry finally managed to raise that elusive green flag.
The goal arose when Mark Rigney sent a beautiful cross-field ball into Dolan’s path. Dolan gathered in possession, rounded two defenders and rifled a shot low to the corner of the net. 1-2 for Johnny Dolan in the space of two minutes.
A huge roar arose from the Caulry followers as they sensed something special happening. And when Gary Flanagan floated over a huge point from long range to leave just one between the sides, the roar got even louder.
With eight minutes remaining, surely Caulry had it in them to equalise. Sadly the answer was no as the remainder of the game turned out to be a huge anti-climax.
As the game moved into stoppage-time, John Kelly fired over a beautiful free from long range and this was closely followed by points from Ciaran Delaney and another from Kelly to seal Park-Ratheneska’s Leinster final berth.
As for Caulry, they had given it everything and given us great entertainment but their gallant efforts fell agonisingly short of the mark.
But after this extended run in the Leinster Junior championship, they can now look forward to their swift return to Intermediate football next year.

Scorers: Park-Ratheneska: John Kelly (1-4), Ciaran Delaney (0-5), Colm Brennan (0-1), Cathal O’Brien (0-1). Caulry: Johnny Dolan (1-2), Gary Flanagan (0-2), Peter Smith (0-2), Mark Rigney (0-1).

Park-Ratheneska: Brian Ramsbottom, Jamie Cahill, Denis Brennan, Tommy White, David Larkin, Mark Delaney, Andy Morrin, Cathal O’Green, Ger Ramsbottom, Brendan Fingleton, Ciaran Delaney, Seamie Flanagan, John Kelly, Tommy Bowe, Colm Brennan. Subs: Johnny Nevin for Seamie Flanagan (56 mins).

Caulry: Edward Egan, Damien Dolan, Johnny Buckley, Brian Mullarney, Ernie Buckley, Jody Malynn, Anthony Malone, Gary Flanagan, Peter Smith, Mark Malone, Mark Fitzpatrick, Anselm Fitzgerald, Mark Rigney, Nicky Killane, Johnny Dolan. Subs: Alan Carroll for Nicky Killane (38 mins), Willie Buckley for Anslem Fitzgerald (40 mins).

Referee: Paul Neill (Louth).

Extracted from the Westmeath Independent Archives, 16th November 2006.
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