Late point secures under-19 ‘A’ football championship
Baltinglass were the first recipients of the Peadar Mac Eochadh cup when they were crowned champions of under-19 football in Wicklow after their victory over group sides Tomnafinnoge in the final at Aughrim on Sunday.
In winning this game the Slaneysiders were turning the tables on their opponents as Tomnafinnoge had emerged victorious when the sides met in the first round of the competition.
Compared with the rip-roaring semi-finals these teams were involved in, this tussle never reached the same heady heights despite the fact that no more than two points separated the contestants at any stage.
Tomnafinnoge had the upper hand in a rather lackluster first half to lead double scores at the break 0-4 to 0-2 but Baltinglass made most of the running on the changeover with the winner coming off the boot of super sub Adam Kavanagh minutes after he was introduced.
Tactics played an important role in the game plans of both managers. Defending the town scoring goal Padraig Murphy deployed his number 15 Adam Hadden as a sweeper in front of the sticks and he performed his task admirably.
Hadden set out his stall from the get-go. Baltinglass centre-forward Jack Hanlon intended a chip-pass for his number 14, Tommy Keogh, but Hadden ghosted in with the intercept and launched his team on the offensive instead.
Centreback Bradley Hickey and wing forward Diarmuid Lambert combined, but a wide was the result
Eight minutes had elapsed before we had the first score, Tommy Keogh edging Baltinglass in front with a good score from the wing.
Two minutes later Cillian McDonald levelled from a free. McDonald was doing valuable work at midfield for Tomnafinnoge while Mathew Ging was a live-wire and constant threat in attack after his suspension was lifted.
In quick succession Ging converted a free and a mark into points to send Tomnafinnoge into the comfort of the water-break leading 0-3 to 0-1.
Just before the break Baltinglass corner-forward James Furlong bounded forward before dropping a bomb down on the Tomnafinnoge goal. Robert McHugh got his fingers to it, but the ball escaped for a 45. Jack Kirwan miscued the 45 and it ended wide.
Tomnafinnoge shaded an overall poor first quarter by a clear margin.
Robert McHugh ignited a fire under his team at the break; they came back out with guns blazing. Centre forward Jack Hanlon was fouled, and Tommy Keogh raised another white flag.
More tellingly, he moved his son Robert to defensive duties, and this proved a match winner. McHugh played the proverbial blinder. He choked off all avenues to goal for Tomnafinnoge. Scores dried up.
Baltinglass were down to 14 players for ten minutes after centre forward Jack Hanlon was handed a black card. But with McHugh and Arun Daly Danne in control for the Slaneysiders, Tomnafinnoge were dining off scraps.
In injury time Daniel Heddrrman floated a crossfield ball to Matthew Ging. Up went the white flag. Tomnafinnoge ahead 0-4 to 0-2 at half-time.
However, Baltinglass dominated proceedings in the third quarter. Hanlon returned from the sin-bin. Corner-forward Jamie Furlong slotted over three points in quick succession to put Baltinglass back in the lead for the first time since the eighth minute.
Jack Kenny fouled, Tommy Keogh pointed the resulting free, Baltinglass two up 0-6 to O-4. Tomnafinnoge yet to score in the third quarter. That omission was rectified before the water break. You guessed it, Ging a point from a free.
Into the home straight and just a point in it. Tomnafinnoge went to the bench for reinforcements. Oisin Gorman replaced Diarmuid Lambert in attack.
Arun Daly Danne got a vital block on Matthew Ging. Tommy Keogh gratefully accepted a pass from Jamie Furlong. Baltinglass two ahead again, 0-7 to 0-5.
Tomnafinnoge are made of stern stuff. They were not for throwing in the towel. Wing-back Larry Kinsella was shown a yellow card, corner-forward Rory O’Dare raised a white flag.
These were anxious moments. Baltinglass replaced Jack Kenny with Adam Kavanagh. Coming up to injury time Rory O’Dare called a mark and levelled scores with his kick. 0-7 each.
As it turned out Adam Kavanagh was an inspired substitution. Only minutes on the field and he landed the winner for Baltinglass.
Tomnafinnoge had one last throw of the dice. But their number did not come up.
Receiving a pass from his corner back Odhran Doyle, Cillian Doyle sent his shot to the left of the post and wide.
Eddie Leonard’s whistle sounded soon after and the Baltinglass players, mentors and supporters showed their delight and relief at having won the day.
Baltinglass: Robert Brien; Conor Flood, Hugh O’Toole, James Fleming; William O’Brien, Arun Daly Danne, Adam Keogh; Jason Kenny, Jack Kirwan; Jack Kenny (0-3), Jack Hanlon, Jack Bookle; Jamie Furlong, Tommy Keogh (0-4, 1f), Robert McHugh. Subs: E Frahill for C Flood, Adam Kavanagh (0-1) for Jack Kenny.
Tomnafinnoge: Caoimhin Rawson; Odhran Doyle, Thomas Hayden, Maurice Hedderman; Patrick Murphy, Bradley Hickey, Larry Kinsella; Cillian McDonald (0-1, f), Liam O’Neill; Diarmuid Lambert, Matthew Ging (0-4, 2f), Ciaran Lambert; Rory O’Dare (0-2), Daniel Hedderman, Adam Hadden. Subs: Oisin Gorman for D Lambert, D Rawson for L Kinsella.
Referee: Eddie Leonard (Wicklow)