Joy for Valleymount
Valleymount 2-14 - Knockananna 1-08
Valleymount put the finishing touches to a very positive season when they got the better of a depleted Knockananna outfit in sunny Laragh on Sunday afternoon last to claim the Johnny Fox Cup crown.
Both sides will rise to Division 2 of the football league after excellent campaigns, but it was the Valleymount men who showed the benefit of a superb championship run as they surged to victory in a dominant second half.
Knockananna were unable to call on such seasoned campaigners as Kevin and Lorcan Tyrrell and Damien Byrne while Johnny Wybrant did make an appearance but was clearly carrying a serious injury. Without stalwarts of that calibre, Eugene O'Brien's charges were always going to be up against it.
Valleymount enjoyed a bright start with a flowing move up the field resulting in a fine point from full-forward Stephen Byrne after good work from Stephen Flanagan.
Knockananna were certainly not in Laragh to make up the numbers and a slow build up eventually released Derek 'Shamrock' Kavanagh who unleashed a mighty shot from the 45 which sailed over Paul Miley's crossbar.
Valleymount hit a mini purple patch when a ball from Flanagan found corner-forward James Fitzpatrick who fired home past John Farrell following a Mick Richardson point moments beforehand.
Garry Bradley, who together with Paddy Byrne and Darren Flynn enjoyed a really good game in the Knockananna jersey, screwed over a delicious point immediately after the goal but Valleymount were moving at a different pace to the Knockananna outfit and were creating overlaps all over the field and Brian Miley stretched the lead to 1-02 to 0-03 after 12 minutes.
Knockananna stalwart Paddy Byrne, set for marriage this weekend to his beloved Sinead, capped a fine display with a marvelous point and then things got much better for Eugene O'Brien's men when Stephen Hinchy fired home the rebound from his penalty which was saved by Paul Miley to leave Knockananna leading by 1-04 to 1-02 with 22 gone.
That lead didn't last long. A tasty flick on from Declan Cahill to Mick Richardson saw the corner-forward slide home a sweet strike past John Farrell to leave Valleymount 2-02 to 1-04 ahead.
A late James Fitzpatrick point left the lakesiders leading by two at the break and facing down towards the dressing room end for the second half.
A good start was vital for both teams and it was the Valleymount men who were fastest out of the blocks with points from Jack Slattery after 20 seconds and Stephen Byrne after 90 seconds before Eddie Bracken replied to leave three between the teams.
Three points for Valleymount, from Fitzpatrick, Cahill and substitute Glen Cullen opened up a six-point gap before Derek Kavanagh replied for the Reds who introduced Johnny Wybrant for Declan O'Keeffe in a bid to threaten the Valleymount goals more.
At this stage it was all Valleymount really. Slattery and Cahill added points before Darren Flynn fired over to make it 2-10 to 1-07 to Valleymount who then added another three wides to their already substantial tally.
Three James Fitzpatrick points (one free) put the game beyond the reach of Knockananna with six minutes remaining while Derek Reid popped over a beauty to close the Valleymount attack.
Knockananna never stopped battling and Johnny Wybrant went looking for goal with a late free but his rocket of a shot screamed over Paul Miley's crossbar and referee Robert Whelan sounded the final whistle to signal victory for Valleymount who return home with some precious silverware with lips licking on lakeside for the 2018 season considering how close they came this year.
Sunday's game was Eugene O'Brien's last in charge of Knockananna.
Himself and Pat Bracken guided the Reds to a Junior B championship crown, a Swan Cup and Division 3 promotion in what they can rightly describe as a successful tenure.
Scorers - Valleymount: James Fitzpatrick 1-05 (2f), Mick Richardson 1-00, Stephen Byrne 0-02, Jack Slattery 0-02, Declan Cahill 0-02, Brian Miley 0-01, Glen Cullen 0-01, Derek Reid 0-01.
Knockananna: Stephen Hinchy 1-00 (p), Derek Kavanagh 0-02 (1f), Darren Flynn 0-02, Gary Bradley 0-01, Paddy Byrne 0-01, Eddie Bracken 0-01, Johnny Wybrant 0-01 (f).
Valleymount: Paul Miley; Mark Carroll, Steven Cahill, Shane Browne; Brian Miley, Brian Flynn, William Kavanagh; Jack Slattery, Stephen Flanagan; Liam Miley, Declan Cahill, Shay Geoghegan; Mick Richardson, Stephen Byrne, James Fitzpatrick. Subs: Glen Cullen for M Richardson (25min, inj), Shane Hughes for S Geoghegan (47min), Derek Reid for B Flynn (50min), Sean Geoghegan for J Fitzpatrick (57min).
Knockananna: John Farrell; Michael Byrne, Padraig Lancaster, Paddy O'Keeffe; Paddy Byrne, Garry Bradley, Aaron O'Neill; Tristan Maher, Declan Whelan; Eddie Bracken, Stephen Hinchy, Keith Corrigan; Darren Flynn, Declan O'Keeffe, Derek Kavanagh. Subs: Alan Byrne for A O'Neill (17min, inj), Johnny Wybrant for D O'Keeffe (38min), Dylan Tracey for E Bracken (50min).
Referee: Robert Whelan (Kilcoole).