Arklow pinch glory at the death
AGB and Blessington showed that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover as they produced a thrilling tie in this Junior C Championship semi-final.
The best was saved 'til last as AGB pinched glory in the 61 st minute. AGB star man Alan McBride lumped a ball into the square and after a scramble Robert Mularvey hit a grounded shot that a Blessington defender stopped on the line with his hands.
Referee Ian Culbert signalled for a penalty but then changed his mind and called for a hop ball. AGB won it and then won a free moments later, which McBride sunk to seal his side's place in the final.
A Blessington defender was dismissed after the final whistle for verbally abusing Culbert for what he felt was a poor performance.
With a place in the final at stake, both sides seemed a bit anxious prior to throw-in. The first score of the match was registered by Patrick Magee when he popped the ball over after Jordan Lynch had missed a free kick.
A successful Alan McBride free levelled it up for AGB and they took the bull by the horns then and put together a decent spell of dominant pressure.
AGB's livewire corner forward Darragh McBride took a long ball to the chest before spinning past his man. He managed to get his shot away despite huge pressure and it took an outstretched foot from Rob Gilligan to divert the 17-year-old's shot wide. Blessington failed to pick up the men from the 45, a frequent occurrence when defending set pieces, and McBride punished them with his second point.
A Conor Doyle 45 then dropped short but Shane McBride didn't let the scoring chance slip away as he collected the ball and sent over his side's third point.
And then AGB took a leap towards the final. First team manager Mervyn Travers sent the ball into Mark Riley who teased a pass through for Darragh McBride to latch onto. But before he could even control the ball, he was yanked back by his neck and Culbert awarded a penalty. Alan McBride hit the penalty and he squeezed it home past Gilligan, who had guessed correctly.
Jordan Lynch pointed a free for Blessington but his side's defensive frailties let Alan McBride in again and he sent another shot between the uprights.
Gerry Phibbs and Ciaran McEnroe then combined to see the former keep his side in check and then after the second period Blessington got their act together and turned things around rapidly.
Gerry Phibbs and Declan McEnroe both sunk points and then Patrick Magee earned his keep as the target man full forward as he absorbed a long ball and outmuscled his man before blasting home off the underside of the crossbar.
And it got even better for Blessinton, now leading by a point, when Mark Riley picked up his second yellow card of the afternoon.
Darragh McBride's trickery earned AGB another free and Alan McBride stopped the rot as he sent the free over but then Colin Miley hit back and Declan McEnroe capped off a rapid break for Blessington with his second point of the match.
But the lead changed hands once again 47 seconds later when Conor Doyle's punt landed in the danger zone and corner back Chris Corrigan managed to drive it home to push his side ahead with eight minutes to play.
Patrick Magee was enjoying himself at this stage though and he brought his side level again in the 54th minute. The scoreboard was now even and soon the player count would be too after Paul Breen- only on the field a few minutes - got his marching orders for an off-the-ball incident.
With the 60 minute mark been and gone, it looked like these two wouldn't be separated but then Alan McBride hurled the ball in and Culbert signalled for a penalty. A hop ball was all AGB got in the end though but nevertheless, a subsequent free was coolly converted by McBride to edge his side closer to championship glory.
A tirade of abuse from Lee Brennan aimed at Culbert after the final whistle saw him receive the red card too.
AGB Scorers: Alan McBride 1-5 (3f), Chris Corrigan 1-0, Shane McBride 0-1.
Blessington scorers: Patrick Magee 1-2 (1f), Colin Miley 0-2 (2f), Gerry Phibbs 0-2, Jordan Lynch 0-1 (1f), Declan McEnroe 0-1.