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Friday 23 February 2018

Knocknagree in paradise after All-Ireland triumph

All-Ireland Club JFC Final: Knocknagree 3-13 Multyfarnham 3-9

John Tarrant

Magnificent Knocknagree bounced brilliantly into the limelight on securing AIB All Ireland JAFC accolades after powering past a brave Multyfarnham in Croke Park on Saturday.

The Duhallow side deserved their victory and they did so with a powerfully structured display which proved too much for the Westmeath combination who rallied to the finish and gained some consolation with a pair of injury time goals. On the day, Knocknagree looked by far the better side, showing more composure in their play and crucially more scoring options.

A sweet win for a Cork club, after a spell of Kerry dominance, Knocknagree laid a barren decade to rest to become the first Cork team to win an elusive championship since Canovee's memorable triumph from 2008. Apart from brief spells and knowing they had their hands on the Cup entering 5 minutes of injury time, Knocknagree looked the more formidable side and always played comfortably within themselves.

Indeed Knocknagree laid the foundation for victory in the opening half, their greater energy and more potent forward unit grabbed key dividends to enjoy a nine points interval advantage. At key stages, Knocknagree owed much to a competent defence with 'keeper Pa Doyle producing two wonder saves, they dictated midfield in addition to their attack delivering terrific scores.

Over the hour, Knocknagree emerged the probable winners, apart from dropping a gear with the finishing line in sight, the Duhallow had things pretty much their own way, stepping up the tempo at crucial spells, summoning all their experience and craft to telling effect.

Knocknagree made the early running, straight from the throw in, Padraig Collins turned over possession, embarking on a solo to fire over a morale boosting point. Moving with purpose, the Knocknagree hopefuls utilised the ball in a constructive manner, Eoghan McSweeney (pictured below) and John F Daly punched over neat points.

Steadily Multyfarnham attempted to create inroads, full forward, Max Brady proved the main contributor from both play and frees. Still Knocknagree operated in a much more convincing manner, benefiting from the influence of play anywhere Michael Mahoney along with Gary O'Connor and Karl Daly in defence, Donagh Moynihan and Collins held control at midfield while in attack, Daly, James Dennehy, Matthew Dilworth and Fintan O'Connor were regularly on the ball.

And Knocknagree's hopes soared in a double goal boost within 50 seconds midway through the opening half, Mahony man marking a sweeper was heavily involved, the instigator for the opening green flag for Dilworth to set up Fintan O'Connor for a sweet goal. It got better, Mahony employed as a seventh attacker took a precision kick pass from Eoghan McSweeney and showed coolness beyond his tender years to net from close range for a clear 2-4 to 0-2 advantage.

Multyfarnham attempted to take the wind out of the Knocknagree sails, close to a goal, Doyle blocked superbly from Anthony McGivney and defender Karl Daly was happy to concede a point.

With O'Connor and McSweeney adding points to strengthen Knocknagree's position, they were again thankful to Doyle on a great stop from Brady to allow Knocknagree enjoy a 2-8 to 0-5 grip at the break. On the restart, the Knocknagree defence shepherded the Multyfarnham attack into cul-de-sacs to maintain a key dominance.

However team captain David Wallace offered hope for the Lake County at the three quarter stage at the end of an enterprising move to goal. A run of yellow cards for Knocknagree saw Anthony O'Connor sidelined yet they enjoyed a stroke of good luck, after Daly won a '45', Doyle's effort threaded a path to the roof of the Multyfarnham net for an opportunist strike.

The game was effectively over now but as Knocknagree switched off during the latter stages, Multy failed to surrender and availed of their numerical advantage, substitute Mark Fallon pounced for two stoppage time goals to ease the pain at the full time whistle. There was no stopping Knocknagree and their vocal fans vented their approval after captain Matthew Dilworth lifted the silverware in the Hogan Stand.

KNOCKNAGREE: P Doyle 1-0'45; M Mahoney 1-0, P O'Connor, G O'Connor; D Cooper, K Buckley, K Daly, D Moynihan, P Collins 0-1; F O'Connor 1-3, J Dennehy 0-1, E McSweeney 0-2, A O'Connor 0-2; J F Daly 0-3, M Dilworth 0-1. Subs: S Daly for P O'Connor (31 inj), A Sheehan for D Cooper(40), T Long for Dennehy (53), C White for McSweeney (58), T Cooper for Collins (59), J Carroll for G O'Connor(61).

MULTYFARNHAM: H Reilly; S Moran, P Heavin, J Greene; C Madden, R Wallace 0-1, S Rock; B McLoughlin, D Loughrey; M Reynolds, A McGibney, C Madden; I McGovern, M Brady 0-6 (4f), D Wallace 1-1. Subs: M Fallon 2-0 for T McGibney (ht), A Loughrey for McLoughlin (41), E Ferrick for Brady (43), G Feerick for C Madden (44), D Kelly for Loughrey (65). K Daly 0-1 (Knocknagree own point)

Referee: B Tiernan (Dublin)

Corkman

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