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St Nicholas secure second Minor ‘A’ football crown on the trot

Victory over AGB in Bray

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The winning St Nicholas team.

The winning St Nicholas team.

St Nicholas captain Jack Keogh with the cup

St Nicholas captain Jack Keogh with the cup

Oisin O'Friel with godfather Jason Reid.

Oisin O'Friel with godfather Jason Reid.

Sean O'Sullivan, Conor Manifold and Dylan Prendergast.

Sean O'Sullivan, Conor Manifold and Dylan Prendergast.

Man of the match Sean Doyle with his parents Laura and James, grandmother Sadie Doyle, grandfather Pat Herbert, brother Tom, and sisters Lily, Katie and Sadie.

Man of the match Sean Doyle with his parents Laura and James, grandmother Sadie Doyle, grandfather Pat Herbert, brother Tom, and sisters Lily, Katie and Sadie.

Chloe Byrne, Sinead O'Neill, Cara Conway and Clea Kinsella supporting AGB.

Chloe Byrne, Sinead O'Neill, Cara Conway and Clea Kinsella supporting AGB.

St Nicholas captain Jack Keogh receives the cup from Pettitt's SuperValu reps Niamh Waldron and Linda Mulvaney, and Pat Dunne for Coiste Na nÓg

St Nicholas captain Jack Keogh receives the cup from Pettitt's SuperValu reps Niamh Waldron and Linda Mulvaney, and Pat Dunne for Coiste Na nÓg

Man of the match Sean Doyle presented with the trophy by Mrs Price on behalf of husband Johnny Price.

Man of the match Sean Doyle presented with the trophy by Mrs Price on behalf of husband Johnny Price.

Cormac Miley and Lillie Figgis supporting St Nicholas.

Cormac Miley and Lillie Figgis supporting St Nicholas.

St Nicholas supporters Harry Reid with Adam, Lily, Tom, Katie and Sadie Doyle.

St Nicholas supporters Harry Reid with Adam, Lily, Tom, Katie and Sadie Doyle.

Cian Deering with Erica Flynn.

Cian Deering with Erica Flynn.

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The winning St Nicholas team.

wicklowpeople

St Nicholas 4-10

AGB 2-2

St Nicholas stormed to their second Minor ‘A’ football crown in a row when they toppled AGB in a windy Bray Emmets GAA Club on Saturday afternoon.

A sharper attack, a well organised defence and the singular belief that they were not going to be stopped were the key reasons behind this victory that was enjoyed to the full by the players and supporters when the final whistle sounded.

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AGB will look back on this final and understand that they didn’t do themselves justice when all was said and done. Scoring 2-2 in any game is very unlikely to secure you victory and certainly not against a side with the attacking power of Ashley O’Sullivan’s St Nicholas.

With Rob Murtagh deployed as a teak tough sweeper, AGB had very little success in the opening half, scoring only 1-1 in that opening 30 and half of that when St Nicholas were without the services of corner-back Ciaran Geoghegan who was sent off by referee Darragh Byrne on the advice of his linesman.

At the other end St Nicholas were very dangerous with full-forward Sean Doyle bringing his boundless class to the proceedings while Matt Miley, Conor Manifold, and Eoin Sheridan caused the AGB defence all sorts of problems.

Against the wind in the second half, St Nicholas needed to defend with all their might, and they did just that while AGB squandered a raft of chances and were punished severely for errors at the back by the ravenous Nick’s attack.

St Nicholas got off to a flying start when Matt Miley got on the end of a Sean Doyle ball across the square to flick home past Sean Murphy in the AGB goal after just two minutes.

The wind was blustery and behind Ashley O’Sullivan’s men for the opening half but any hopes that this meeting of these two very talented sides would reach the heights it did in Pearse’s Park early in the championship in terms of flowing football were soon forgotten as AGB seemed afflicted by nerves or at least a flat footedness that allowed Nicks to stamp their authority on the game from early on.

It would be 12 minutes before AGB would open their account, but St Nicholas hadn’t added to their opening goal by that time either, registering two wides instead. Sam Butler would grab that opening score for Joe Dunning’s team who lost Chris O’Brien to injury just prior to that after he collided with the well-constructed Rob Murtagh.

AGB were in big trouble by the first water break. St Nicholas added 1-1, the point from Ross Sheridan after a tasty exchange with Conor Manifold and the goal from Manifold himself after Sean Doyle had looked to flick over the head of Sean Murphy only for Murphy to save with Manifold on hand to finish with the hands to the back of the net.

Things looked especially bleak for AGB after 31 when St Nicholas had wrenched open a 3-4 to 0-1 lead courtesy of 1-2 from Sean Doyle and a single from Eoin Sheridan but AGB got a major boost when Niall Dempsey fed Óran Dunning with a sweet ball and the latter flicked home past James Walshe to leave it 3-4 to 1-1 at the break.

An early 1-1 from AGB in the second half suggested that the comeback was on given that they had an extra man and were playing with the aid of the wind. Their goal came courtesy of Páidid Kavanagh who collected a breaking ball behind the Nicks defence, the point from Sam Butler, and suddenly, the Nicks lead was cut to 3-5 to 2-2.

AGB would see a shot come back off the crossbar moments later from the boot of Kavanagh but when St Nicholas substitute Adam Byrne pounced on a mistake by Sean Murphy after a long ball from Eoin Sheridan to finish to the net with seven gone in the second half, the writing was on the wall.

Four huge points in the context of the game followed for St Nicholas, the first from the excellent Conor Manifold, the second from the equally excellent Matt Miley, the third from Manifold who had plenty of work to do to earn his shot at the posts and the fourth from the hard-working Ross Sheridan off his left.

Just prior to Sheridan’s point, St Nicholas had the chance to finish the game as a contest when Sean Doyle was fouled in the square but credit to replacement goalkeeper Callum O’Neill, he got down superbly to save Doyle’s spot kick and the slim hopes for AGB lived on.

Joe Dunning’s lads would throw the kitchen sink at the fourth quarter but would only harvest seven wides (two goal chances). St Nicholas wouldn’t score in that phase of the game until the very last moment when Matt Miley fired over a free, but they didn’t need to, they had already done enough damage when it mattered.

Darragh Byrne’s final whistle was greeted with pure delight from the St Nicholas players.

“Not one, but two,” yellowed Adam Byrne in relation to the two titles in a row, “not one, but two,” he yelled as he hugged his comrades.

Country and Western singing sensation Jack Keogh accepted the cup from Coiste na nÓg Chairman Pat Dunne while the sublime Sean Doyle received the Johnny Price Man of the Match award from Mrs Price following his wonderful display over the course of the game.

It mightn’t have been the wonderful game of football we expected but it’s deep in October, it was the county final, it was windy, the pressure was high and credit to both sides for playing their part in a serious battle with St Nicholas emerging as the deserving champions without a shadow of a doubt.

St Nicholas: James Walshe; Luke Bagnall, Liam Metcalfe, Ciaran Geoghegan; Ross Sheridan (0-2), Cian Deering, Rian Waters; Sean O’Sullivan, Oisín Friel; Jack Keogh, Conor Manifold (1-2), Eoin Sheridan (0-1); Rob Murtagh, Sean Doyle (1-2, 1f), Matt Miley (1-2, 1f). Subs: Adam Byrne (1-1), Ben Lawless, James Flood, Aaron Metcalfe, John Doyle, Josh Thompson, Gavin Droughin, Dylan Prendergast.

AGB: Sean Murphy; Aaron O’Brien, Dáire Furlong, Conor Hannon; Niall Dempsey, Kyle Kelly, Chris O’Brien; Conor Gahan, Patrick O’Halloran; Páidi Kavanagh (1-0), Sam Butler (0-2), Óran Dunning (1-0); Brian Hurley, Conn Kinsella, Pádraigh Bermingham. Subs: Óran Kelly for C O’Brien (inj), Callum O’Neill for S Murphy, Dean Kelly-Farrell for P O’Halloran.

Referee: Darragh Byrne (Ballymanus)


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