Kiltegan stun Blessington
Kiltegan and Blessington served up an absolute thriller in this Renault Senior Football Championship Group A encounter at Joule Park, Aughrim on Sunday afternoon.
It was Kiltegan who prevailed from a ding dong battle as a Seanie Furlong belter at the end of normal time and a Jeffery Bermingham clearance off the line nearing the last play saw them squeeze home by a two point winning margin.
In terms of great goals, great points, heart, determination, comebacks and near misses this game had it all and on the balance Kiltegan just about deserved their victory as they were absolutely brilliant in the second half.
Blessington however were much quicker out of the blocks and their forwards, in particular the O'Connor brothers Mikey at corner forward and Patrick at centre forward, had their respective markers in knots trying to follow them.
The brother's shared the opening four scores between them as Mickey opened his account with a peach off the outside of his left boot from well out on the left. Kiltegan responded with three scores of their own including one from corner back Adam Wynne who made a swift break up the pitch before firing over from 30 yards to leave a point between the sides after 15 minutes.
Blessington were finding it easier to get the scores early on while at the other end their backs were putting extreme pressure on the Kiltegan danger men with Jack Gilligan doing a brilliant job early on of subduing Seanie Furlong.
Gilligan got out in front of the Kiltegan star which set an attack in force as the ball worked its way to Blessington wing forward David Boothman.
Having been pinged minutes earlier for over carrying the county man had no hesitation before setting off again and exchanged a quick one two with Anthony McLoughlin before finishing low and hard to the right of Fergal Harmon to give Blessington a four point cushion.
Blessington added another two as Stephan Bohan made a great burst up to score meaning the number 4s on both sides had now chipped in with points.
Kiltegan responded themselves with a couple of points but in the 25th minute Blessington's second goal arrived as Curtis Gerathy finished emphatically after being set up by Mikey.
This left seven between the sides and had full forward Micheal Nugent netted what looked like a certain goal minutes before this as he rounded the keeper only have his shot saved by Blaine Harmon then it would have been a very long way back for Kiltegan.
To Kiltegan's credit though the goal spurred them on and they kicked the last 3 points of the half including great scores from Bryan Cullen and Ronan Byrne, to leave four points in it at the break and keep them well in the hunt.
Kiltegan weren't playing badly but the problem was the Blessington forwards were given a little too much time on the ball and causing huge damage.
Whatever Trevor Doyle said at the interval worked a treat though as in the backs and across the field Kiltegan came out a different animal.
They hassled and harried everything and no sooner had a Blessington man gotten the ball had he white and red jerseys swarming on him and making life altogether uncomfortable.
From the throw in the Kiltegan backs turned over the ball and worked the ball up the field where Seanie Furlong delivered a deft reverse hand pass over his shoulder to release Bryan Cullen, who made no mistake hitting the nets top corner from 10 yards. A dream start and you could sense the whole Kiltegan team, management and supporters were galvanised by the goal.
Blessington regrouped and didn't panic as Mikey and substitute Bryan Carroll landed big scores but there was a feeling that Kiltegan weren't going away and the game seemed destined to go down to the wire.
Derek Daly had a goal disallowed for Kiltegan, having been deemed to kick the ball out of Jack Gilligan's hands, before Fergal Harmon made an outstanding save from Mikey O'Connor when the diminutive forward seemed certain to bury it.
Ronan Byrne made a lung bursting gallop up the pitch and gave off to Bryan Cullen who seemed to be running down a blind alley before somehow managing to squeeze over a point from the left.
Seanie then stepped up and ballooned a free over from forty yards before Liam Keogh gave Kiltegan the lead for the first time for the left wing.
Blessington levelled again before the first of two match defining plays.
A long ball was lofted to the Kiltegan forwards, which hopped between the two lines. Seanie swooped in for a ball he had no right to win.
An easy point was on and would have put Kiltegan ahead with just injury time to play but you could sense Furlong wanted more.
He jinked past the onrushing defender, soloed in and unleashed a rasper to the roof of Stephen Kitts net as he, his teammates and Kiltegan supporters rejoiced.
But that wasn't the end. Mickey O'Connor landed a sweet score, to leave two in it.
Then the ball was blocked out for a Blessington 45. A point would be no use as it was now well inside the last minute.
The ball was lofted in, ricocheted around before falling to the boot of Kevin Hanlon 10 yards out. Fergal Harmon was rooted as the wing backs shot sailed by him and Kiltegan hearts were set to be broken.
Then cometh the hour cometh the man as Kiltegan's Jeffery Bermingham hacked the ball off the line before it came back in, hit the post before finally landing in the arms of a grateful Kiltegan man.
They cleared downfield and the whistle blew to end what was undoubtedly the game of the round as Kiltegan pick up a vital two points.
If the rest of the games in championship are half as good as this one we're in for a hell of a summer.
Kiltegan: Seanie Furlong 1-5 (0-5 frees), Bryan Cullen 1-2, Jeffery Birmingham 0-1, Podge O Toole, 0-1, Liam Keogh 0-1, Stephen Farrell 0-1, Ronan Byrne 0-1, Adam Wynne 0-1.
Blessington: Mikey O'Connor 0-7 (0-2 frees), Curtis Gerathy 1-0, David Boothman 1-0, Bryan Carroll 0-2, Patrick O'Connor 0-1, Stephen Bohan 0-1.
Kiltegan: Fergal Harmon, John Farrell, Blaine Harmon, Adam Wynne, Ronan Byrne, Stephen Farrell, Liam Keogh, Rory Finn, Podge O'Toole, Jeffery Bermingham, Bryan Cullen, Micheal Foley, Ciarán Byrne, Seanie Furlong, Derek Daly. Subs: Cathal Fitzgerald for Ciarán Byrne.
Blessington: Stephen Kitt, Barry Murphy, Jack Gilligan, Stephen Bohan, Kevin Hanlon, Paul McLoughlin, Barry Finan, Kevin Rogers, Eoin Keogh, Anthony McLoughlin, Patrick O'Connor, David Boothman, Curtis Gerathy, Micheal Nugent, Mikey O'Connor. Subs: Bryan Carroll for Curtis Gerathy, Conor Kenny for Kenny Rogers, Gavin Murray for David Boothman, Jordan Nolan for Barry Finan.
Referee: John O'Brien