Martin's finish on high note
St. Martin's 1-11 Glynn-Barntown 1-8
At this stage, it might be easier to write that list of what St. Martin's didn't win this season, rather than wracking your brain for all those successes.
Adding the Greenstar Under-21 football Premier 'A' hampionship title - like they did by beating Glynn-Barntown in St. Patrick's Park on the Friday before Christmas - was certainly a fitting way to round it all out.
There was two very different mentalities at work, pulling in different directions, in this game. The champions are laced with talent and are used to winning championships; they know how to get over the line and are calculated and clinical in execution.
This was just that type of performance. Control is a real buzzword in soccer nowadays. To control a game doesn't necessarily mean you win but invariably, if the game is played as you want it played, then your chances of coming out on top increase.
It's very difficult to control a game of Gaelic football in the same way teams can control soccer, but St. Martin's came close to it in this decider. They played at their tempo, forced Glynn-Barntown to take chances, spray wild shots and ground them down. Panic just doesn't impair their game focus.
It was a different type of game for the Killurin-based side. It was fore bore, a hundred miles an hour; they looked like the team that needed it more, and the optics could even trick you into believing that they wanted it more. Looks can be deceiving though.
When the game was in the melting pot that winning mentality took over. That control became more pronounced as Glynn-Barntown's play got a little more ragged. St. Martin's worked their openings, Barry O'Connor took his chances, game over.
It didn't start as well for the talented attacker. Peter Barry worked him into space on the right in the second minute but O'Connor flashed his shot across the face of Matt Doyle's goal and wide. He made no mistake moments later with his first free after Joe O'Connor was fouled.
A clever short free between Aaron Kehoe and Ben O'Shea ended with the former firing between the posts.
Yet they were struggling to create good chances in the opening quarter and St. Martin's slowly moved into a lead.
Barry O'Connor got his second after he was pulled down to the left of the posts and made it 0-3 to 0-1 after a lovely wrong-footing shimmy gave him the yard of space he needed to make the most of more good work from cousin Joe.
Glynn-Barntown missed a couple from distance as the game moved into the second quarter and they paid for their profligacy when Joe Coleman burst through and flashed over the crossbar from Conor Coleman's feed.
Another quickly taken free-kick caught the Piercestown-based side out again in the 19th minute, with Matthew Joyce added the finishing touches. After St. Martin's sprayed a pair of wides, Kehoe narrowed the gap to 0-4 to 0-3 with a dead-ball.
Nicky Greene was forced into a fine save from Ben O'Shea, and was then judged to have foot-blocked the same attacker in the follow-up. Joyce calmly slotted the resulting free and the sides were suddenly level (0-4 each).
St. Martin's pushed the turbo button after falling to parity. They moved upfield, and Darren Codd split Glynn-Barntown open with a fantastic ball to Conor Coleman. He fed Joe Coleman in-stride and the 'big man' made no mistake with a clinical finish past Matt Doyle.
Greene made another competent, smothering stop from Joyce as the game moved towards half-time.
There was still a chance for St. Martin's to move 1-5 to 0-4 ahead at the break and Mikey Coleman took it, breaking on to a loose ball and floating over after a sloppy segment of play.
A dipper from Kevin Mahoney needed alert work from Greene after the re-start. When the first score of the period did come in the 36th minute it could have been worse for Glynn-Barntown than Barry O'Connor's free as Conor Coleman was in on goal had referee Justin Heffernan allowed play to develop for half a second longer.
From a five-point lead, and seemingly a position of strength, St. Martin's had a little blip. Kehoe cut the deficit with his third free before a fired-up Daniel Carroll wheeled away with a determined roar after putting a goal between the sides with a calm right-footed effort.
Still, it wasn't until substitute Dylan Lyne pounced on a misjudged bouncing ball, ran 25 metres untouched and slotted a calm finish home off the foot of Nicky Greene's post that Glynn-Barntown really looked alive.
Their tempo was through the roof at this stage, and their aggression in the tackle, while remaining within the rules, was exemplary. It would have blown a lot a sides away but champions knuckle down and ride the wave of emotions, then they pounce.
Cool as you like, Mikey Coleman and Peter Barry combined to release Joe Coleman for a stunning score from the right. Glynn-Barntown bounced back with another Kehoe free, yet they were struggling to get clear looks at the posts.
No such problems at the other end where Jake Firman knocked over a free before Barry O'Connor pinged his fifth of the game. The score gave St. Martin's a 1-9 to 1-7 lead and a little breathing space.
It meant that when the referee overturned an umpire's decision in the 57th minute and gave a '45, Matt Doyle's superb kick was only enough to halve the deficit. In the six minutes that followed, Glynn-Barntown didn't create a proper scoring opportunity, despite completely emptying the tank.
It's why Barry O'Connor was able to ghost into space, accept Joe O'Connor's feed and make the advantage two again in the third minute of added-time. Against a beaten Glynn-Barntown, Joe capped a tireless performance himself, robbing possession and landing a left-footed score moments later.
The Killurin boys kept fighting away in the last few seconds but they couldn't penetrate what was an excellent St. Martin's defence. A few joyous shouts greeted full-time but no wild celebrations on Justin Heffernan's last whistle of the night.
Partly that's the expectancy of winning, of course it is. However, it was also three days before Christmas'; these lads have been going non-stop all year and they need a breather badly before it all starts again in 2018. For St. Martin's it could hardly top 2017, could it?
St. Martin's: Nicky Greene; Mikey Coleman (0-1), Philip Dempsey, Harry O'Connor; Conor Firman (capt.), Aaron Maddock, Ben Maddock; Peter Barry, Joe O'Connor (0-1); Conor Coleman, Joe Coleman (1-2), Michael Codd; Jake Firman (0-1 free), Barry O'Connor (0-6, 3 frees), Darren Codd. Subs. - Eoin O'Leary for H. O'Connor (33), Adam Cantwell for C. Coleman (51), Jack Devereux for M. Codd (60), also Sam Audsley, Diarmuid Barry.
Glynn-Barntown: Matt Doyle (0-1 '45); David Roche, David Clarke (joint capt.), Ger Dempsey; Kevin Mahoney, Stephen Lyne, James Stafford; Aaron Breen, Daniel Carroll (0-1); Frankie Hynes, Aaron Kehoe (joint capt., 0-4, 3 frees), Fionn Cooney; Jack Brazzill, Matthew Joyce (0-2, 1 free), Ben O'Shea. Subs. - Matthew Banville for Hynes (21), Rowan White for Cooney (31), Dylan Lyne (1-0) for Brazzill (40), Michael Carroll for O'Shea (49), Cormac Rowe for Mahoney (57), also Luke Rafter, Ciarán Joyce, Bill Joyce, John Lacey, Daniel O'Regan, Adam O'Leary, Jamie O'Shea, Dylan Roche, Ian Moran, Cillian Joyce.
Referee: Justin Heffernan (Blackwater).
New Ross Standard