Western Gaels are champions

Bus Eireann Div. 2 U-21 Final Western Gaels                        1-12 Kilbride                                    1-9 Western Gaels, inspired by county senior player Cathal Cregg, were just too good for Kilbride in this entertaining U-21 Division 2 final played in Boyle last Saturday.   The poor weather conditions would have normally ruled out the possibility of any good football, but these two teams combined to produce some excellent fare over the hour.   Kilbride were well in the game all through and, inspired mainly by their own county player Conor Devanney, they never gave up and were within a kick of a ball for most of the game.   Western Gaels got the perfect start when they scored a goal within ninety seconds as Kevin Higgins placed Cregg who blasted home. Indeed the Gaels were unlucky not to get their second goal after four minutes when Chris Collins hit the crossbar.   Conor Devanney did open the Kilbride scoring with a free but the Gaels hit back with points from James McDonnell and Noel Higgins.   Devanney scored another free before Kilbride scored a very fine goal when Paul Nolan found the net after a good pass from Devanney. However the Gaels went two points ahead again when Kevin Higgins and Sean Mahon scored good points and with Kilbride’s Brian Keogh on target with a point just before the break it was Western Gaels who led 1-7 to 1-4 at half-time.   Devanney narowed the gap on the re-start with a point from a free but the Gaels played their best football in the next ten minutes when they fired over three points from James McDonnell, Chris Collins and Cathal Cregg (a mighty pointed free).   However Kilbride kept on plugging away and points from Devanney and Nolan left only three in the game with five minutes to go. Tom O’Grady then had a goal chance for Kilbride but it was cleared and Cregg capitalised with a point at the other end.    Then Cregg was sent off in the final minute after a foul on Devanney which earned the ‘man of the match’ a second yellow card and that dismissal. It was still a good day for the Western Gaels men and for Cregg in particular.   The cup was presented to the Western Gaels captain Niall Murray afterwards and he dedicated the victory to the memory of Stephen Nolan, the young Western Gaels player who lost his life in a car accident earlier this year. Western Gaels: K Carney; M Reynolds, D Ryan, M Higgins; T Mahon, D Ward, J Murren; N Murray (capt.), K Higgins (0-1); N Higgins (0-1), J McDonnell (0-3), C Cregg (1-4); S Mahon (0-1), C Collins (0-1), B Cox (0-1). Sub: D Ryan. Kilbride: T Connor; W Murray, S Lohan, J Hickey; K Moran, J Donnelly, G Nolan; C O’ Neill, D McDermott; C Devanney (0-6), T O’ Grady (0-1), D Casey; F Tully, B Keogh (0-1), P Nolan (1-1). Subs used: D Casey, P O’Grady. Referee: Jimmy Reilly (St. Josephs).