Halloween drama as cool Keavney rescues Ronan’s in a thriller!

Classic encounter which neither side deserved to lose

 King & Moffatt Roscommon JFC A Final: St Ronan’s 2-14 Padraig Pearses 3-11 (after extra-time)

Two frees converted under extreme pressure in injury-time at the end of extra-time by St Ronan’s full-forward John Keavney ensured that the teams will have to do it all over again after a thrilling junior A football final in Dr Hyde Park on Saturday.

For the neutral, this was the club football game of the year. It had everything: high drama, great scores and a massive effort from two committed teams who simply refused to lie down. Fortunes continually swayed in an absolute thriller.

The early exchanges between pre-match favourites Padraig Pearses and underdogs St Ronan’s – whose hunger was so impressive throughout – were evenly contested. Daniel Glynn was in superb form for Pearses. For Ronan’s, the early highlights were two spectacular points by wing half-back Tadhg Guihen. Pearses led 0-6 to 0-5 at the break, with Ronan’s nicely poised as they had played against the wind.

The day’s real fireworks started in the 50th minute. With his side 0-9 to 0-7 behind, Jason Glynn made a super run into the heart of the Pearses’ defence. When the ball broke to Ronan Kelly, his volley was deflected past Jamie Donoghue. The excellent Gary O’Daly pointed from play two minutes later. Suddenly Ronan’s were 1-8 to 0-9 in front.

As the game slipped into injury-time, St Ronan’s supporters were dreaming of a shock win. But there was another kick in Pearses. Shane Mulvey strode forward and unleashed a bullet of a shot into the top corner of the net for a superb goal. Now they were ahead by a point.

St Ronan’s didn’t panic. They worked the ball downfield, Thomas McManus was fouled and John Keavney converted the free to send the match into extra-time (Pearses 1-9 St Ronan’s 1-9).

Extra-time brought even more thrills. Richard Browne put Pearses ahead with an early point, but Ronan’s scored the next 1-3 to open up a five-point gap. The goal came in the 3rd minute, Alan Benson making an incisive run and setting up Gary O’Daly to fist the ball home. Mark Healy, Alan Benson and Thomas McManus all pointed, moving St Ronan’s 2-12 to 1-10 clear with eight minutes left. It looked a winning lead.

Then veteran Seanie Fahy, introduced from the bench, turned the game on its head within 60 seconds, first with a brilliant goal, followed by a super point from play.

With three minutes to go Daniel Glynn fielded a long high ball from Shane Mulvey and was hauled to the ground. Eoin McManus drilled the resultant penalty low and hard to the Ronan’s net. Incredibly, Pearses were now two up going into injury-time. Ronan’s narrowed the gap when Keavney was on target from 25 metres.

Referee Jimmy Donoghue (who had a fantastic game) then sent Thomas Carey of Pearses off for an off the ball incident. St Ronan’s made one last foray into Pearses’ territory and when Mark Healy was fouled, Keavney kept his cool to drive the equalising free over. A replay this weekend is the outcome.

There were heroes all over the pitch. For Ronan’s, Tadhg Guihen, Jason Glynn, Alan Benson, John Keavney, Gary O’Daly and sub Mark Healy were all outstanding. Shane Mulvey, Conor Ryan, Eoin McManus, Daniel Glynn and sub Seanie Fahy stood out for Pearses.

It was a game that neither side deserved to lose. Bring on the replay.