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conlon heroic

THE sustained applause echoed around Páirc Ciceam last Saturday afternoon.

At the heart of the appreciation was Ballymun's inspirational midfielder, Darragh Conlon.

Before the game, a minute's silence honoured the memory of his Dad, Declan.

Declan, a courteous gentleman, was a mentor of the Ballymun side. He died following the original clash last Saturday week.

Young Darragh gave an exceptional performance. He not only did his own job - he made sure everybody else did theirs as well.

He led by example. He made some fine catches. He made precise passes. He went on storming runs.

And he kicked a couple of nice points for good measure.

Himself and his colleague, Brian Ashton, kept stoking the fire in the engine room.

It was a very entertaining tussle. There was a cracking atmosphere.

The lights came on for the second half. The noise of the crowd drowned out the passing jets.

There was a sharp tempo to the hour. Any loose pass was punished. Val Andrews' all-weather surface added to the spectacle. And in the dugout were two former players who in times past delivered their own Ant and Dec Show. Anto McCaul and Declan Barnes were top footballers.

Anto's long-time wing-man, Des O'Donnell, has been living in Malahide since 1973.

And after this result, he's not expecting to be asked to turn on the Christmas lights in the village!

The two first-half goals at the clubhouse end kept Sylvester's in it.

But they couldn't match the overall attacking zest of the Mun, who ticked on the points any chance they got.

In the second half, Kickhams were so solid at the back.

Chris Burke proved himself to be a worthy goalkeeper.

The Sylvester's number one, Seán O'Connor, produced one of the saves of the season in the second half.

Splendid play from Conlon had opened the door for Cameron McCormack. He let fly from close distance.

Agility

The net was bracing itself, but O'Connor showed fantastic agility. The Malahide full-back, Christian Doyle, had a terrific game. His duel with Seán Perkins was one of the highlights of the day.

On one occasion, Perkins rose like an Eagle in a classical piece of fielding.

The Malahide wing-forward, Bryn Redmond, has blistering pace. His intelligent play rolled back the pages to Niall Guiden.

Then there was the Ballymun half-back, Darragh McArdle. Alan Hubbard would have been impressed with his offering.

Syls led at the break, 2-1 to 0-6. The half had been level twice.

The opening goal arrived on six minutes when Daniel Brennan showed quick feet and a firm finish. In first-half injury-time, he pounced on the near post to nudge in his second following David Moloney's delivery from the left.

And they would have had another goal to stir their tea had Conlon not made a magnificent clearance off the line from Eoin Cooney's close-in pile-driver in the 12th minute.

Brennan was foiled of a hat-trick by a brilliant Burke save eight minutes into the second period.

Burke managed to push the rocket over the bar, levelling the contest for the fourth and final time.

By that stage, the Mun were taking a firm grip on the duel.

Conor Fox, Lee Fox, Tony McCaul and the quality free-taking of Adam Keogh was sending them into the clear.

Lee Fox got their 43rd-minute goal. Coming in on the left, he sold a couple of shimmies that Jack Kyle would have been proud of before arrowing to the sack.

That made it 1-12 to 2-3. Keogh then hit three points.

Denied

On the hour, the hard-toiling Ashton completed the scoring.

Syls almost got in for a goal in stoppage time but Burke denied Max Sheridan.

Anto McCaul's brother, Gerry, managed the Dubs. On this evidence, many of these players could become heroes of the Hill.

But on this day, the biggest hero of all was Darragh Conlon.

Simply the best.

SCORERS - Ballymun Kickhams: A Keogh 0-6 (5f); L Fox 1-3; B Ashton, D Conlon, C Fox 0-2 each; T McCaul 0-1. St Sylvester's: D Brennan 2-1; B Redmond (f), P Grehan 0-1 each.

BALLYMUN KICKHAMS: C Burke; S Tuke, E Comerford, C Cullen; D McArdle, S Leahy, R Kelly; B Ashton, D Conlon; L Fox, C Fox, T McCaul; A Keogh, S Perkins, K Kelly. Subs: C McCormack for K Kelly (25); E Hill for L Fox (54); A McCaul for Keogh (62).

ST SYLVESTER'S: S O'Connor; L Cassidy, C Doyle, E McLoughney; N McCann, D Danaher, D Moloney; E Cooney, M Meaney; B Redmond, M McCormack, P Grehan; J Kennedy, D Murphy, D Brennan. Subs: M Sheridan for Murphy (42); L Troy for McCormack (58).

MENTORS - Ballymun Kickhams: A McCaul, P Ashton, D O'Donnell. St Sylvester's: D Barnes, P McCarthy, R Fitzpatrick.

REFEREE: K Donohoe (Naomh Fionnbarra).

WIDES - Ballymun Kickhams: 6 (4+2); St Sylvester's: 7 (5+2).

CONDITIONS: Dry, dull, cold.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Darragh Conlon (Ballymun Kickhams).


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