SuperValu Division Two M.F.C. Final Strokestown 1-13 1-8 Western Gaels Paul Hickey Potent attacking by an impressive forward sextet that was led in style by Ruidhri Molloy yielded a deserved five-point victory for the minor footballers of Strokestown in the SuperValu division two final at Dr. Hyde Park last Sunday. A pooled scoring return of 1-11 by the ‘town’s front six illustrates the nature of this victory for Strokestown. Molloy, Colin Compton and Thomas Hughes seized the impetus from the throw-in and the victors led by five points before Western Gaels registered their first score in the 22 nd minute. The forwards answered their club’s call in the final 10 minutes too, when unanswered points from Hughes, Compton, and defender Justin Perrin established an insuperable Strokestown lead towards the end of the game. Molloy (twice), Compton, imposing midfielder Seamus Collins, and then Molloy again raised the white flag for Strokestown in the opening 20 minutes as the champions settled quickly into a stride that led on to victory. Niall Brogan and Collins orchestrated the play from the beginning and the besieged Western Gaels defence struggled to compose itself in the first half. Indeed, had Brogan converted a good goal chance early on, the game would have been academic after half time. Ruidhri Molloy’s goal in the 39 th minute was the most important score in this final. It gave Strokestown an eight point lead when just 20 minutes remained and, although the Gaels reduced the margin to two points in the final quarter, victory was always likely for ‘town from then onwards. The goal was worthy of its significance too. A strong fetch by centre-back David Butler interrupted a Gaels attack and, following a series of passes, Colin Compton found the corner-forward who executed his finish with nonchalance. Barry Cox’s goal for Western Gales immediately afterwards cut the deficit back to five, and pointed frees from Ryan and Cafferkey quickly ensued, but Strokestown’s players were determined to win a game that they had dominated from the beginning. Hughes, Compton (2), and Perrin reasserted dominance on the scoreboard. This success was important for Strokestown. Victory in the 2002 senior championship generated massive interest in football in the parish in the months that followed, but over the course of the last five years that has dwindled slightly and the black and amber boys have not challenged seriously for the title since. Victory at minor level is hugely significant in this context, and the performances of Molloy, Collins, McLoughlin, David Butler, Perrin et al last Sunday bode encouragingly. For Western Gaels the bitter taste of defeat in the final is tempered by the club’s victory in last month’s Senior Championship relegation play-off. Man of the Match: Ruidhri Molloy (Strokestown) Molloy dominated the proceedings from start to finish with moments of brilliance. The corner-forward scored a goal and four points, and led a sustained assault on the Gaels’ defence. Strokestown: B. Daly; J. Fallon, N. McAuliffe, D. Molloy; P. Brogan, D. Butler, P. McLoughlin; J. Perrin (0-1), S. Collins (0-1); T. Hughes (0-3), N. Brogan, A. Duignan (0-1); N. Compton, C. Compton (0-3), R. Molloy (1-4, one free). Subs used: N. Carthy for N. Compton (46 mins), A. Murray for C. Compton (60 mins). Western Gaels: H. Crean; T. Phillips, M. Higgins, P. Groarke; N. Finn, J. Murren, M. Reynolds; K. Higgins, K. Carney; B. Cafferky (0-5, all frees), S. Mahon, B. Cox (1-0); C. Cafferky, P. Mahon (0-1), D. Ryan (0-2, both frees). Subs used: F. Cregg for Finn (35 mins). Referee: Declan. Hunt.