Wednesday 16 October 2019

Veteran scoring ace sinks St Anne's

Senior Football Relegation Final: Kilanerin 2-14 St. Anne's 0-13 (AET)

Aaron Craig of St. Anne’s is chased by Conor Devitt of Kilanerin, with Jonathan Fogarty awaiting the outcome
Aaron Craig of St. Anne’s is chased by Conor Devitt of Kilanerin, with Jonathan Fogarty awaiting the outcome

Alan Aherne in Bellefield

They say that class is permanent, and the classiest of them all proved the point in Bellefield on Friday when Kilanerin consigned St. Anne's to Intermediate ranks with an extra-time victory in the Dominic Smith Electrical Senior football championship relegation decider.

There had been speculation all week regarding the likelihood of Matty Forde lining out for his club at this level for the first time in 2019, and he duly took his place in the full-forward line.

And 30 seconds into the final period of extra-time, with the sides deadlocked on 0-12 apiece, the great one rose to fist a left-wing cross from his nephew, Seán, into the corner of the net and give last year's beaten finalists a precious lead that they didn't relinquish.

Indeed, Matty hammered another nail in the coffin with a sublime point from a Michael Molloy pass, with the latter then widening the gap to five before a second goal ensured St. Anne's bid a sad farewell to the top flight which they had graced with distinction since winning the Intermediate crown at the same Bellefield venue in 1990.

The kick-out after that Molloy point saw Matty Forde latch on to the breaking ball, and a huge gap appeared down the centre as the re-introduced Peter Hughes raced clear and played a one-two with Seán Forde before palming into a gaping net (2-14 to 0-12).

All that St. Anne's could muster before the finish was a Liam Óg McGovern point, and their atrocious finishing in the second-half will have resulted in numerous sleepless nights down Rathangan way on Friday.

Redmond Barry earlier had the misfortune to miss a penalty for the second game running, kicking high to the right and wide this time after striking the post against Horeswood, but there was ample time to recover from that setback.

It had occured in the 25th minute, with referee James Mullally spotting an off-the-ball tug on Barry, at a stage when St. Anne's held a 0-5 to 0-4 lead.

Seán Forde (free) and Conor Devitt went on to edge Kilanerin ahead, only for Jonathan Fogarty to restore parity before the break.

It was the fifth occasion for the sides to be level, and the squandermania of St. Anne's when play resumed ensured that extra-time was always a distinct possibility.

They amassed a staggering ten wides in that second period, some from central positions, in a tense half that only featured another six points

Paul Brennan had made a super save to deny Michael Molloy a goal on the re-start, although the attacker later gave Kilanerin a lead that Seán Forde embellished from a free in the 41st minute (0-8 to 0-6).

St. Anne's had posted five of those ten wides by that stage, and another effort came back off the post, before a Seán Kelly free made it a one-point game.

Redmond Barry equalised in the 44th minute, before Kilanerin took a huge gamble by introducing county player Niall Hughes who was restricted by a serious injury to his right knee.

Unfortunately, he only lasted eleven minutes and is unlikely to be seen on a football field again for a considerable length of time.

Dean O'Toole had squandered a golden chance after receiving a quick free from Seán Forde during the time Hughes was involved, shortly after Seán Kelly had put St. Anne's ahead from a free.

However, Kilanerin hit back when Matty Forde - who else? - finished a move featuring Páraic Hughes, O'Toole and Aidan Jones in the 54th minute.

It proved to be the last score in regulation time, as Kevin Breen kicked a wide, Niall Hughes dropped an effort short, a Matty Forde free came back off the crossbar, and Seán Kelly missed the target from play.

St. Anne's kicked the first two points of extra-time via Breen and Kelly, only for Dean O'Toole to respond twice, with the second a beauty from long range.

Matty Forde (free) and Jonathan Fogarty then left it all to play for entering the last ten minutes, and it came as a surprise to absolutely nobody in attendance that the former should be the one to finally decide the outcome of this gripping battle.

Kilanerin: Tom Hughes; Cathal O'Reilly, Brendan Hobbs, Rhys Owley; Aidan Jones, Colm Kavanagh (capt.), Páraic Hughes; Niall Breen, Dean O'Toole (0-2); Conor Devitt (0-1), Peter Hughes (1-0), Mark Gethings; Michael Molloy (0-3), Seán Forde (0-4, 3 frees), Matty Forde (1-4, 0-2 frees). Subs. - Mark Boland for Gethings (39), Niall Hughes for Peter Hughes (50), Ben O'Connor for N. Hughes, inj. (60+1), Peter Hughes for Devitt, inj. (65), Emmet O'Toole for O'Connor (75), Richard Hughes for D. O'Toole, inj. (79).

St. Anne's: Paul Brennan; Kenny Cloney, Tomás Cullen, Páraic O'Keeffe (capt.); Kevin Whelan, Aaron Craig, Aidan Rochford; Jonathan Fogarty (0-2), Mikey Fogarty; Liam Óg McGovern (0-1), Diarmuid O'Keeffe (0-1), Jack Murphy; Liam Rochford, Seán Kelly (0-7, 6 frees), Redmond Barry (0-1). Subs. - Kevin Breen (0-1) for Murphy (38), Mark Furlong for L. Rochford (60+1), Darragh Furlong for Barry (77).

Referee: James Mullally (Gusserane).

New Ross Standard