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Mun minors' prized scalp

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Ballymun's Cathal Tighe and Gavin Hartnett of Cuala. Picture: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Ballymun's Cathal Tighe and Gavin Hartnett of Cuala. Picture: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Ballymun's Cathal Tighe and Gavin Hartnett of Cuala. Picture: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

BALLYMUN KICKHAMS 1-17; CUALA 3-9

This was an early season game to whet the appetite. Last year's minor champions Cuala coming up against one of this year's favourites in Ballymun Kickhams.

And the MFL Division One clash at a rainy Páirc Ciceam on Sunday didn't disappoint. A highly entertaining football match went the way of the home side, who showed more consistency in front of goal at crucial times.

Indeed, 1-17 is a tally that will win most matches. Their manager, former Dublin captain and All Star full-back Paddy Christie, will be quietly satisfied. But so too will he stress to his team that the hard work is still to come if this group is to end the year with minor championship medals to add to their U14 and U16 titles of recent times.

But this wasn't all about Ballymun and Cuala will be happy with their own showing. Indeed, at one stage they trailed by eight points, only for a strong finish to take them back to within touching distance before time ran out.

At crucial junctures, though, their shooting let them down.

In the five minutes before the break, they kicked three wides on the bounce before conceding with the last kick of the first half to trail by four at the turnaround.

And after they quickly dismantled that deficit with 1-1 inside 90 second half seconds, they couldn't kick on and get themselves in front.

They also saw a Darragh Spillane shot come back off the post, while wing-back Matthew Kiernan had a goal-bound effort brilliantly saved by Eric Cumberton.

Spillane in particular impressed. His anticipation and movement was a joy to watch, while he got two super goals.

His bloodline is strong.

A nephew of Kerry great Pat Spillane, while his father Mick won six All-Ireland senior medals in the Kerry colours.

The home side started well and had a 0-7 to 0-3 lead after the first quarter. Midfield duo Cathal Ó Tighe and Aaron Elliott were dominating their sector, and their runs from deep were reaping big rewards.

BRILLIANT

Both got a point apiece while they were also involved in scores for the impressive Paddy Small and Caomhín Deegan. Dillon Keating was also prominent, knocking over two frees from the ground.

A brilliant point from Dara Twomey got Cuala off the mark before frees from Gavin Hartnett and Diarmuid Sexton kept them in touch.

Spillane opened his account on 16 minutes with a wonderful catch and point on the turn. He repeated the trick five minutes later, but not before Colm Hutton had maintained the Ballymun advantage.

Keating popped over a free before Cuala tallied up that aforementioned trio of wides when even one score would have made a big difference.

Deegan had the last say of the half with a booming point, giving his side a 0-10 to 0-6 lead.

But the Dalkey men stormed from the blocks at the start of the second half and Spillane hit the net in a move that came directly from the throw-in. And in the next attack, Jake Malone, released from his starting full-back berth, levelled matters at 0-10 to 1-7.

Ballymun remained calm and moved up the gears to score 1-4 without reply. Wing-back Ryan Swift started the ball rolling before Paddy Small began his match-winning intervention.

First, he popped over a point from a tight angle on the right touchline and proceeded to add two more to his collection from long range. He then picked out Glenn Doyle with an inch-perfect pass, and the Dublin minor made no mistake as he slammed into the net from close range.

Sexton hit the post and Kiernan looked certain to raise a green flag for Cuala, but it didn't materialise. Spillane did manage to do so in the 58th minute with a finish identical to his first and in a dramatic finish, Gavin Hartnett's free bounced into the net.

It was too little too late, though, with the 'Mun holding out for a deserved victory.


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