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2009-Caulry in seventh heaven

Caulry in seventh heaven

01 April 2010

Caulry were crowned junior football champions for a record seventh time following a facile victory over St. Paul's in last October's final. The task now facing the Mount Temple-based club is to consolidate their position in the intermediate ranks, something they failed to do on two occasions in the last decade.

Just a year after they endured the heartbreak of relegation, Caulry bounced back in the best possible fashion by winning the Jasca Sports junior football championship for a third time in seven years and, in doing so, securing their ticket back to the intermediate ranks.
When the Mount Temple/Baylin outfit last claimed the Hugh Daniels Cup in 2006, they needed a late goal to see off Milltown in the final. Four years earlier, they came from nine points down with less than 10 minutes remaining to record a sensational semi-final victory over St. Paul's before accounting for St. Joseph's in the final.
But there was no such drama last year when an unbeaten nine-match campaign culminated in an emphatic 2-8 to 0-2 victory over St. Paul's in a very one-sided county final at Cusack Park. The success gave Caulry their seventh junior championship, adding to their previous wins in 1935, '44, '57, '90, 2002 and '06.
No doubt their goal for 2010 will be to fare much better in the intermediate championship than they did when they were last promoted and perhaps end a quarter-century long wait for honours in that grade. They showed last year that they are well capable of competing against the top intermediate sides by retaining their All-County League Division 2 status. With one of the best underage set-ups in the county, they have the potential to play in the senior ranks in the coming years.

Under the management of Padraig Moran, who was assisted by selector James Casey and coach Shane Curran (the former Roscommon and Athlone Town goalkeeper), Caulry were head and shoulders above most teams in last year's junior championship. They won eight of their nine matches, with their only blip coming against final opponents St. Paul's in the second round when they were relieved to take a share of the spoils.
The southerners signalled their intent with a 2-14 to 0-3 trouncing of St. Joseph's in the first round at Rosemount. Caulry were well on their way to victory when they led by 0-7 to 0-1 at half-time. They tagged on a further 2-7 in the second half with Alan Fitzgerald and Johnny Dolan accounting for the goals.
Caulry received a much tougher test from St. Paul's in their second group match. Played in difficult conditions at Shandonagh, the game was close throughout with goals from Ernie Buckley and Alan Carroll earning the Mount Temple side a somewhat fortunate 2-3 to 0-9 draw.
Mullingar Shamrocks also put it up to Caulry in round three before they eventually prevailed on a 1-13 to 2-7 scoreline. Without playing that well, Padraig Moran's charges claimed their third win courtesy of a 3-12 to 0-6 defeat of Loughnavalley eight days later.
The games continued to come thick and fast for Caulry who were in action twice in the space of five days in early July. In Milltown, they came good in the last 20 minutes to see off Ballycomoyle by 0-14 to 1-4 with Alan Fitzgerald's long range finishing a feature of the game.
They then faced Milltown in Rosemount and, after conceding an early goal, powered to a 4-9 to 1-3 victory in what was one of their best performances of the year. In their final group outing, Caulry racked up another big win over St. Loman's (1-17 to 2-4) to qualify directly for the semi-finals.
Johnny Dolan was the star of the show in Caulry's 2-7 to 1-4 semi-final defeat of Coralstown/Kinnegad at Cusack Park. The corner forward scored goals in either half, the second of which finally broke their opponent's resistance.
Dolan's first goal on the quarter-hour mark was cancelled out by a David Flynn strike at the opposite end in the 28th minute. But a Peter Smith free had Caulry ahead by 1-2 to 1-1 at half-time.
The southerners introduced Robert Kenny and Mickey Killane for the second half and extended their lead through a brace of Gary Flanagan points. But it wasn't until the final quarter that Caulry finally killed off the game when further points from Peter Smith and Declan Donohue was followed by Dolan's second goal three minutes from the end.

Caulry renewed acquaintances with St. Paul's in the county final at Cusack Park on October 11. After their earlier draw, another close contest was expected but it never materialised as the Clonmellon men seemed to suffer a severe bout of stage fright. By contrast, Caulry were composed and assured, dominating the play from start to finish. St. Paul's day was summed up when they had two players sent off in the closing stages.
Johnny Dolan picked up where he left off against Coralstown/Kinnegad by kicking the opening point. With a strong wind to their backs, Caulry kept the pressure up and were rewarded with further scores from Dolan, Peter Smith and Robert Kenny to lead by 0-6 to 0-0 coming up to half-time.
St. Paul's finally opened their account in the first minute of injury-time when Dara Brady slotted over a close-in free after Ben Moran had handled the ball on the ground. However, there was still time for Gary Flanagan to surge through from midfield and kick Caulry into a 0-7 to 0-1 interval lead.
St. Paul's attempts to get back into contention were frustrated by some excellent defending from Damien Dolan, Ben Moran, Kevin Maguire and team captain John Buckley in particular. Goalkeeper Joe McMahon also played his part by advancing smartly to deny both Philip Gilsenan and David Dolan in the 34th minute following a rare good move by St. Paul's.
After squandering a number of decent scoring chances, Caulry finally put the game beyond St. Paul's with two goals in a three-minute spell midway through the second half. A sideline delivery into the square was contested by a number of players, with Alan Fitzpatrick pulling on the dropping ball to send it past Ollie Mulvaney to the St. Paul's net.
Fitzgerald quickly tagged on a point before Robert Kenny fisted home a second goal in the 47th minute to seal the deal.
A delighted Caulry coach Shane Curran said afterwards: "The lads did very well and I think that today they have proved beyond any doubt that they are the best team in the junior grade and are well capable of stepping it up to another level. They certainly have the players and they are a top-class bunch of lads."
Star midfielder Gary Flanagan remarked: "It definitely makes up for last year's disappointment when we lost a couple of games by just a single point. This is a young team who can only improve in the higher grade and since I'm one of the oldest in the team at 27, there is great hope for the future of the team and next year we will definitely be ready for the challenge."

The Mount Temple men subsequently made their third foray into the Leinster club junior championship where they had high hopes of bettering their commendable efforts in 2002 and 2006. But a 0-9 to 0-12 defeat to Wexford champions Blackwater in Wexford saw them bow out at the first attempt.
Five unanswered points in the third quarter proved decisive as the home side held out against a fierce final quarter rally from Caulry, which included a missed penalty, to progress to the provincial quarter-final.

The Caulry team which overwhelmed St. Paul's in the JFC final was: Joe McMahon; Damien Dolan, Johnny Buckley (captain), Pat Buckley; Ben Moran, Alan Rigney, Kevin Maguire; Gary Flanagan, Declan Donohue; Cormac Fox, Conor Allen, Alan Fitzpatrick; Robert Kenny, Peter Smith, Johnny Dolan.