2011 Minor Championship Final

St Ciaran's capture first minor title after drama packed finale

St Ciaran's 3-6 
Ennell Shamrocks 2-8


In a foretaste of what was to come in the senior decider, drama rather than pure football was the main ingredient in last Sunday's Westmeath minor football championship final, when amalgamation side St. Ciaran's from the south of the county dethroned another combination side Ennell Shamrocks in an exciting contest.

Despite Gary Dolan's charges racing into an early five-point lead, the reigning champions clawed their way back into contention and there was never a lot between two evenly-matched sides over 70 minutes-plus (an inordinate number of injuries justifying a lot of added-time).

Ciaran Kirby's troops led only twice in the contest (and both times just for a few minutes) and the concession of a soft second goal in the 39th minute left them with a little too much to do in the final analysis.

St Ciaran's (a combination of Caulry, Castledaly/Garrycastle) got off to a flying start and were 1-2 to 0-0 ahead by the seventh minute. Early points from Lorcan Dolan (a fine score from play) and Robbie Hickey (from a needlessly-conceded '45') were followed by a well-taken goal from close range by the latter player, after fielding Eoin Monaghan's long punt goalward.

In the 13th minute, Neal Kirby opened Ennell Shamrocks' account with a fine solo point, but Darragh Kelly responded with a similar score. However, the young men in red, white and maroon had a purple patch between the 17th and 23rd minutes, scoring an unanswered 1-3 in the process. The points came from Niall O'Brien (two, the first from a free) and Neal Kirby (after doing well to make space) and the goal also from Kirby, having fielded Aonghus Clarke's delivery.

In the time remaining in the first moiety, Eric Fallon and Neal Kirby traded points from frees, leaving the scoreboard at the break reading: Ennell Shamrocks (St Malachy's/Ballinagore and Kilbeggan/St Joseph's) 1-5 St Ciaran's 1-4.

A little over five minutes after the resumption of play, Caulry's Robbie Hickey tied up the scoring when he rounded off a great move with a neat point from 20 metres. Arguably the game's turning point then arrived when a St. Ciaran's counterattack eventually ended with Eric Fallon's harmless-looking shot finding the net to put the lads in the Garrycastle strip a goal to the good.

Castledaly's Lorcan Dolan was by now far removed from his listed position of full-forward and he was mopping up a lot of loose ball to good effect for the winners, who stretched their lead in the 45th minute when newly-introduced substitute Michael Monaghan (Garrycastle) kicked a fine point under pressure.

A replacement on the opposition side also quickly showed his worth - Alan Clarke pouncing for a brace of well-taken points to add to a great score from wing-back David Fennell from 45 metres, to leave the margin down to the bare minimum.

A plethora of injuries led to a stop/start period of play and the fourth official duly signalled a whopping seven minutes of added-time. Further stoppages in injury-time further complicated the issue and when Eoin Monaghan's low shot squirmed to the back of the losers' net in the 67th minute, it was clear that more time was still on the cards. The second of two rapid-fire '45's for Ennell Shamrocks ended with Niall O'Brien doing very well to find the net with a great shot in a crowded goalmouth. However, when the ball was booted over the sideline moments later, the referee blew the final whistle.

Shortly afterwards, John Weir, chairman of the Westmeath GAA Minor Board, presented the Paddy Walsh Memorial Cup to the winning St. Ciaran's captain, Justin Barrett.

IN A NUTSHELL

SCORERS - St. Ciaran's: R Hickey 1-2 (1 '45'), E Fallon 1-1, E Monaghan 1-0, D Kelly, L Dolan and M Monaghan 0-1 each. Ennell Shamrocks: N Kirby 1-3, N O'Brien 1-2, A Clarke 0-2, D Fennell 0-1.

ST. CIARAN'S: Mark Keenan; Paul Henson, Michael McMahon, Sean Carey; Jack O'Kelly Lynch, Paddy Holloway, Jack O'Meara; Justin Barrett, Robbie Hickey; Andrew O'Sullivan, Eoin Monaghan, Darragh Kelly; David Brooks, Lorcan Dolan, Eric Fallon. 
Subs: Alex Gardiner for Brooks (h-t), Michael Monaghan for Kelly, inj (42), Gavin Ward for Carey (50), Stephen Woods for Fallon (60 + 4).

ENNELL SHAMROCKS: Liam Cassidy; Liam Varley, Dean McDermott, Niall Gunning; Luke Peppard, David Lynch, David Fennell; Aonghus Clarke, Shane Clavin; Michael Dever, Paul Fennell, Eoin Quinn; Neal Kirby, Niall O'Brien, Kieran Glennon. 
Subs: Alan Clarke for Glennon (46), Damien McCormack for D. Fennell, inj (55), Kieran Glennon for Dever, inj (60), Sean Mullarkey for Peppard (60 +3).

REFEREE: Brendan Keena (Ballynacargy) .

MAN OF THE MATCH:
Paddy Holloway (St. Ciaran's). The Castledaly lad further enhanced his growing reputation with a towering display as central pivot of the winning side.

Published by Westmeath Independent - Wednesday, 5th October, 2011 5:30pm
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