Pearses power to glory

Cahill’s Supervalu Roscommon MFC Div. 1 final Padraig Pearses                     2-6 St. Ciarans                              0-7 Padraig Pearses won their first minor football championship title since 1982 when they had five points to spare over St. Ciarans in this competitive but disappointing final played at Hyde Park last Sunday.   With so many good players on view who were either minor or U-16 stars this year, this had been an eagerly-awaited final but in the end it was one which never rose to any great heights. Pearses were full value for their win as they dominated Ciarans throughout.   Pre-match previews suggested that if the highly-rated Ciarans’ midfield pairing of James McKeague and Eamonn Bannon held sway,  then the likes of Niall Kilroy and the Ciarans forwards might get enough ball to win it. However it was the Pearses duo of Jason Clogher and Aaron Fehily who ruled the roost at midfield, and Pearses’ forwards had a plentiful supply of ball throughout.   Pearses dominated the play from the start and Ciarans had to live on scraps. However, Pearses were very wayward when it came to shooting for goal and that’s what kept the scores so close for so long.    Excellent Pearses full-forward Eanna Ryan, who was a candidate for man of the match alongside team captain Niall Carty, scored his side’s first point after two minutes. That score was cancelled out by a Niall Kilroy free a minute later after he himself was fouled.   In the fifth minute Pearses took control when Jason Clogher blasted home a penalty after Alan Duffy was fouled inside the Ciarans’  penalty area. Incredibly it was to be Pearses’ last score of the first half.   Pearses were dominating the exchanges but a combination of good defending from Ciarans  and poor shooting meant that scores were now few and far between. Kilroy kicked another free in the 11th minute and although Pearses dominated it was Aaron Quigley who got the only other score of a disappointing half in the 23rd minute. His point left one in it (1-1 to 0-3) at half-time.    Alan Duffy and Kilroy (free) exchanged points in the first four minutes of the second half before Emmet Kelly should have goaled in the 5th minute. Instead, his first-time effort flew high over the bar for another Peares point.    When Aaron Fehily kicked a great Pearses point in the 11th minute, Ollie Dooley’s men were three up.   Enda O’Rourke kicked an excellent free for Ciarans to leave only two in it again but the goal that settled the contest was always likely to come from Pearses – and that’s what transpired in the 16th minute. Sub Thomas Sweeney’s shot rebounded to Alan Duffy and the county minor star swept the ball home for a vital Pearses goal.   Emmet Kelly followed up with a quick point and suddenly there was six points between the teams. Kelly and James McKeague exchanged points in the 24th and 30th minutes but Pearses had the title in the bag and the celebrations could now begin.   Enda O’Rourke and Emmet Kelly scored a point apiece in the five minutes of injury-time, but Pearses were home and dry. The final whistle brought wild celebrations amongst their supporters as the cup headed into the arms of captain Niall Carty to end a quarter of a century old famine for Pearses at this level.   For the winners, Niall Carty played a captain’s part at centre half-back and he was coolness personified all through. Aaron Fehily and Jason Clogher won the vital midfield battle while up front Pearses’ stars were Alan Duffy, Emmet Kelly and the very impressive Eanna Ryan.   For a St. Ciarans side who never really got going Mark Keaveney, James McKeague, Enda O’Rourke and Niall Kilroy were best but even the most committed Ciarans supporter would agree that their side was beaten by a better team on the day. Padraig Pearses: David Burns; Cathal Dolphin, Alan Naughton, Shane Mulvey; Keelan Daly, Niall Carty (capt.), Niall Daly; Jason Clogher (1-0, pen.), Aaron Fehily (0-1); Emmet Kelly (0-3, I free), Alan Duffy (1-1), Shane Naughton; Sean Ryan, Eanna Ryan (0-1), John Landy. Sub: Thomas Sweeney for Shane Naughton.  St. Ciarans: Robert Kilcommons; Ciaran Dowd, Robert Whyte, Peter Kellehan; Mark Keaveney, Brian Keenan (capt.), Alan Moore; James McKeague (0-1), Eamonn Bannon; Anthony Leahy, Enda O’Rourke (0-2, I free), Niall Keenan; Niall Kilroy (0-3 frees), ET Murray, Aodhan Quiigley (0-1). Subs used:  Kevin Raftery for Murray, Cormac Kelly for Leahy, Keelan Boyle for O’Rourke. Referee: Jimmy Reilly (St. Josephs).