Mulryan Construction Roscommon IFC Final
Most pundits, yours truly included, were finding it hard to call this clash of the neighbours, and so it proved when these two fine teams could not be separated after a thrilling final played at breezy and cold Dr. Hyde Park last Sunday.
Most observers would say that a draw was a fair result as both sides had their periods of dominance during the course of a game in which we saw some bad mistakes, fantastic scores, high drama, and some very questionable refereeing decisions on both sides. They will resume the battle on Saturday week in the replay.
Fuerty had the aid of the wind in the opening half and they sited their danger man Niall Kilroy at full-forward and it worked a treat for the opening 20 minutes as he gave his marker Thomas Fetherston and the Oran defence many headaches with his fantastic movement and score taking ability. But a freak goal for Oran in the 24th minute changed the game completely and by half-time Oran were level against the run of play.
The second half was a real roller-coaster as both sides looked like they would win at different stages. Oran hung on to a one point lead for all of 13 minutes before Gearoid Ennis finally levelled the match with a pointed free in the 61st minute. Indeed the same player had a chance to win it in the 64th minute but a 40 metre free into the wind was a very difficult ask, and the ball tailed out wide and a draw was a fair outcome.
Kilroy was on fire for Fuerty early on and by the 23rd minute they were 0-7 to 0-3 ahead with the Roscommon county player having kicked four marvellous points from play. Oran were unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty in the 20th minute when Shane Regan was tripped in the large square but referee Brendan Beirne waved play on.
Then in the 23rd minute Darragh Walsh’s cross from the right was carried over his own line by Fuerty ‘keeper Joe Fallon and after that the game changed completely. Gearoid Keenan got a grip on the midfield exchanges and Mike Dwyer, Darragh Walsh and Kieran Whyte were far more prominent.
In the 30th minute Keenan galloped through the heart of the Fuerty defence and buried the ball in the top corner and now Oran led by 2-4 to 0-7. But Fuerty were not going to lie down. Gearoid Ennis’ thunderbolt was brilliantly saved by Matthew Whyte at the expense of a point, and two further points from Niall Kilroy (1 free) saw the sides go in at half-time level at 2-4 to 0-10.
The second half was hard fought, intense and thrilling, but the football wasn’t as good as what we saw in the opening half. By the 38th minute it was 2-6 to 0-12 as both sides cancelled each other out. It would take something special to separate the sides and we certainly got that in the 42nd minute. Gearoid Ennis collected a breaking ball 40 metres out and he powered through the centre before blasting the ball into the top corner for a contender for the goal of the year.
Fuerty now had breathing space but in the nature of this superb game it was Oran who responded next. Gearoid Keenan pointed from play in the 45th minute and when Darragh Walsh pointed two frees in the 46th and 47th minutes the sides were level at 2-9 to 1-12. Then with twelve minutes left on the clock, sub Jack Gunning fisted an Oran point that put them back into the lead.
There followed thirteen scoreless minutes and it looked like Oran were going to hang on but in the first minute of time added on, Gearoid Ennis pointed a 30-metre free and the sides were level again. Indeed the same player had a chance to win it in the 4th minute of injury-time but his effort from 40 metres tailed off wide and the sides lived to fight another day after a titanic struggle.
For Oran, who lost full-forward Paul Kenny after only seven minutes through injury, Matthew Whyte, Jack Casey, Mike Dwyer, Kieran Whyte, Gearoid Keenan and Darragh Walsh all played well. For Fuerty, Niall Kilroy was fantastic early on but he faded in the second half. Gearoid Keenan grew into the game and his goal will be remembered for years to come. Philip Neilan, Aengus Lyons, and Peter Leahy also had their moments. But it’s still all to play for on Saturday week.
Fuerty: Joe Fallon; Philip Neilan, Tom Bannon, John Brennan; Adam White, Peter Kellehan, Mark Ward; Eoin White, Niall Keenan; Peter Leahy, Eamon Bannon, Darragh Heavey (0-1); Gearoid Ennis (1-5, 3 frees), Niall Kilroy (0-6, 2 frees), Aengus Lyons (0-1). Subs: Ben McGahon for Heavey (41), Christy Leahy for E White (48), Robbie Fallon for A Lyons (56), A Lyons for Ward (64).
Oran: Matthew Whyte; Declan Beirne, Thomas Fetherston, John Martin; Jack Casey, Mike Dwyer (0-1), Kevin Concannon; James Regan, Gearoid Keenan (1-1); Eamon Kenny, Ciaran Lawless (0-1), Kieran Whyte; Darragh Walsh (1-4, 4 frees), Paul Kenny, Jack Earley. Subs: Shane Regan (0-1) for P Kenny (7), Ciaran Casey (0-1) for Earley (h/t), Brian Diffley for J Regan (36, b/c), Jack Gunning (0-1) for Beirne (38), Adrian Cassidy for S Regan (54).
Referee: Brendan Beirne (Ballinameen)