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Anne's charge goes kerplunk

St Anne's 0-15

St Oliver Plunkett's/ER . 2-9

It was an epic battle from start to finish -- and even beyond the final whistle. St Anne's saw an eight-point half-time lead clawed back by St Oliver Plunkett's/ER at Boharnabreena on Sunday, and then needed an injury-time free from Scott Fulham to force a replay.

But for a time they thought they had won the Dublin minor 'C' football title. At the final whistle, a miscalculation of the scores by referee Kevin Foran meant he awarded the match to the home side, much to the horror of Plunkett's.

As one would imagine, the protests were strong, but to his credit, Foran re-evaluated the situation, counted the scores again and declared a draw.



CORRECT

St Anne's vice-chairman Alan 'Nipper' McNally acknowledged that it was the correct decision.

"We had already contacted Plunkett's and offered them the replay before Kevin realised his mistake," he said.

"In the interest of fair play it was the best thing to do. To be fair, the referee acknowledged that it was the wrong decision and fair play to him. We are happy with the chance of another crack at it and we can prepare now for the replay."

It was a compelling battle. The home side, playing with the aid of a slight breeze and downhill on the sloping Boharnabreena pitch, were irresistible at times in the opening period.

Central to almost everything they did was wing-forward Ray Toner. The number 10 showed superb composure in front of goal and scored seven of his side's 0-11 half-time total.

Plunkett's Niall Walsh was another who caught the eye throughout even when his side were struggling, and his free opened the scoring.

But the Navan Road side struggled to gather any significant momentum for the remainder of the half.

Michael Brennan split the posts from close range before a brace of Toner placed balls.

A wonderful pitch-long run from Plunkett's Seán Moran resulted in the sweeper getting fouled and Walsh slotting the resultant free.

It provided only brief respite. Fulham, a star of the Dublin minor team's run to the All-Ireland final in September, hit two excellent points in the space of a minute.

A great team move ended in Walsh cutting the deficit to three. But Anne's hit five on the bounce before the break, four from Toner and one off the boot of Brennan to lead by 0-11 to 0-3 at the turnaround.

Many in attendance would have been forgiven for thinking the game was all but over, but Plunkett's returned to the field a revitalised outfit.

A long-range point from the impressive Cian Boland got the fight back under way followed by another from Walsh.



INFLUENCE

At this point, the Plunkett's midfield of Stephen Flanagan and Kieran McLoughlin were growing in influence and the latter had a big hand in his side's opening goal.

His superb catch and pass sent Boland in the clear, who slipped a clever ball to Oisín Meehan. He finished neatly to the net and suddenly the gap was back to three.

Fulham clipped over a free to ease the pressure on Anne's but Plunkett's would soon have their second -- this time McLoughlin found himself on the end of a break-away move to tap home from close range with only seven minutes remaining.

When Walsh kicked three unanswered points Plunkett's looked to have sealed the most unlikely of victories.

But Anne's showed they were made of stern stuff, as two Fulham frees sandwiched another from Toner, which forced the stalemate. On this evidence, the replay will be one to savour.


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