Monday 15 October 2018

Victory at last for St. Pats


ST. PATRICKS ... 0-9 BALLIVOR ... 0-7 LIKE the bachelor boy who finally got caught, St. Patricks, at last made it to the altar but they went reluctantly and had to be almost dragged through the trap door to the senior ranks.

The Stamullen men, bridesmaids four times in the nineties, must have enjoyed their time in the intermediate grade. In fact it seemed that they didn’t want to leave judging by their wastefullness in this dour IFC final at Pairc Tailteann on Sunday.

They kicked wide after wide and ended up with a grand total of eighteen, but still managed to take the title.

They have played better and lost, that’s for sure, and it looked that they might lose their third in a row but they held their nerve in a nail biting finish and few could deny them their moment of glory as captain Martin Kirk finally got his hands on the coveted Mattie McDonnell Cup.

It wasn’t pretty to watch at any stage, Ballivor had twelve wides for the hour, but the East Meath outfit fully deserved their win. They didn’t need to be at their best in attack against a very disappointing Ballivor outfit, their superb defence ensured that the cup would be heading in the East Meath direction at the end of the day.

All six backs in front of an almost redundant David Mooney played their part but centre back Cormac Murphy was superb while little behind him were Ronan Kearns and Ciaran Russell. This unit limited Ballivor to just three points from play for the hour to save the blushes of the wasteful forwards.

The winners led 0-4 to 0-3 at the end of a poor opening half. During that period they kicked ten wides, were denied two goals by the brilliance of Raymond McKeown in the Ballivor goals and kicked another ‘sitter’ wide of the mark.

A highly motivated defence, plus the hard working midfield pairing of James Hughes and Cormac Sullivan ensured that the winners attack enjoyed an abundance of possession. They needed it all as they set the trend in the opening nine minutes with five efforts wide of the target. They should also have had a goal in that period when Barry Campbell and Daithi Whyte combined to set up Fergus Minogue but from a couple of yards the corner forward had his effort blocked by the Ballivor keeper.

Despite a litany of wides the winners had opened up a 0-3 to 0-1 lead by the end of the first quarter with Niall Flynn and Whyte from play, and Whyte from a free on target.

Ballivor’s opening score, the first of the match came from captain Trevor Smith and their two other points of the half were from frees converted by Mairtin Doran. The Meath minor star was the only Ballivor forward to pose a serious threat but the South Meath side probably did themselves no favours by switching the youngster from the wing to the 40’ where he subsequently got little change out of the powerful Cormac Murphy.

Keeper McKeown came to Ballivor’s rescue again in the 16th minute when he kept out a Niall Flynn goal bound shot but Daithi Whyte was following up and fisted the rebound over the bar. It was Peter Sullivan’s chance a couple of minutes later but he missed the target with a goal on.

Ballivor finished the opening half stronger though they too were guilty of missed chances.

A fine long range Peter Sullivan point two minutes into the second half should have been the perfect tonic for St. Patrick’s but it didn’t boost them to any great heights as wides continued to flow much more frequently than scores.

Though they were always in the driving seat St. Patrick’s were never comfortable at any stage and when fullforward Terry Connor rounded Niall Russell a goal looked on but the former Meath man blasted over the bar.

The St. Patrick’s policy of directing most of the play towards Daithi Whyte in the left corner worked well, particularly as the diminutive forward won most of the possession that came his way. He made a great fetch in the 39th minute only to be fouled but he obliged from the resultant free kick.

The winners then increased their lead to three by the 42nd minute when Peter Sullivan shot over following the best move of the match with cornerback Ronan Kearns playing a prominent part. They were unable to shake off their dogged opponents though, and Doran hit back with his third point of the match in the 49th minute. Terry Connor then had an effort brilliantly blocked by Ray Russell before Doran from a free edged his side to within a point with six minutes remaining.

Though the standard remained poor the closeness of the exchanges ensured an interesting finale. St. Patrick’s needed a quick response and that they gave, as Cormac Sullivan made a great fetch in the middle of the field and the move ended with Whyte shooting over the bar.

With three minutes remaining Doran converted another free to again leave one between the sides but St. Patrick’s with victory in their grasp held firmly on this occasion. They worked the ball upfield, Cormac Murphy won a free which helped slow down the game, and Peter Sullivan eventually sealed it with his third point of the half two minutes into injury time.

Teams & Scorers -

St. Patrick’s: David Mooney, Noel Collier, Niall Russell, Ronan Kearns, Ray Russell, Cormac Murphy, Ciaran Russell, Cormac Sullivan, James Hughes, Martin Kirk, Peter Sullivan (0-3), Niall Flynn (0-1), Fergus Minogue, Barry Campbell, Daithi Whyte (0-5).

Subs: Ivan Curran for Minogue, Martin Byrne for Campbell.

Ballivor: Raymond McKeown, Ciaran Connor, Padraic Carroll, Tony Fox, Jamie Keogh, Paul Feeney, Patrick Kavanagh, Noel Davis, Fergus McMahon, Trevor Smith (0-1), James Mitchell, Mairtin Doran (0-5), Brian Flynn, Terry Connor (0-1), Padraig Geoghegan.

Subs: Damien Cunningham for Keogh, Daryn Davis for Kavanagh, Seamus Dunne for Carroll.

Referee: David Coldrick (Blackhall Gaels).