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Sunday 25 August 2019

Shillelagh/Coolboy grab victory from jaws of defeat

Finnegan Cup: Shillelagh/C’Boy 1-19 Ashford 1-15 after extra-time

Shillelagh/Coolboy captains Brendan Behan and Daniel Nolan with Martin Fitzgerald
Shillelagh/Coolboy captains Brendan Behan and Daniel Nolan with Martin Fitzgerald

Liam O'Loughlin in Aughrim

These two sides finished level at the top of Division 3 of the county football league.

They needed a play-off in Aughrim three weeks ago to decide the outright winners of that division and the Coollattin side came out on top following a great game of football.

On Tuesday night last, July 9, they met once again.

This time it was in the final of the top four play-off in Division 3 for the Finnegan Cup.

The game was played in Aughrim in ideal summer conditions. Once again the two sides served up a rip-roaring game of football which kept the sparse attendance on their toes right to the end.

And the end came after two periods of ten minutes each way of extra-time.

Once again Shillelagh/Coolboy came out on top but Ashford lost no honour in this defeat.

For a long time in the second half of this game they looked likely to reverse the result of the previous encounter but a great Dan Nolan goal for the Coollattin side brought the game to extra-time.

When the game got under way, both sides were unsuccessful with a few scoring attempts in the opening few minutes.

Garry Murphy got the men from the South off the mark with a point as the time approached five minutes.

Brendan Behan added two more points before Ashford opened their account with a Ross Quinn point with eight minutes on the clock.

Cormac Doyle brought a save out of Paddy Byrne between the posts for Shillelagh/Coolboy, forcing the custodian to tip over the bar.

A Brendan Manning free brought the sides level after ten minutes.

Ashford had gained a bit of momentum now and Brendan Manning put them ahead from a free after fourteen minutes.

A great cross-field ball from Brendan Behan set up Dan Behan for the equaliser on the quarter hour.

David Dowling and Brendan Manning put the black and amber two up but Jonathan Smyth reduced the gap to the minimum on twenty minutes.

Back came Brendan Manning to increase the lead again but two points from Wayne Kinsella (free) and Johnny Willoughby left the sides level at 0-7 each at the break.

The South men got a great start to the second period and Brendan Behan had them a point up within the opening minute.

Ross Quinn responded for Ashford with two quick points and Cormac Doyle landed a third to leave them two points ahead by eight minutes.

Wayne Kinsella had a great goal opportunity but his shot was deflected out at the expense of a fruitless '45'.

Kinsella did pull back a point in the ninth minute but Colm Doyle responded with another Ashford point.

Excitement was beginning to build as both sides sought supremacy and the tempo of the game built up to championship intensity.

It was at this stage in their previous encounter that Shilelagh/Coolboy drove on for victory but quite the opposite appeared to be happening now.

Ashford were striking for home and the Coollattin men were struggling to stay with them.

Brendan Manning put Ashford three points up at 0-12 to 0-9 but Wayne Kinsella reduced the gap again on the three quarter hour mark.

Manning pointed again and when Ross Quinn added another after 20 minutes, Ashford now led by four points.

They were looking likely winners at this stage but did not score at all in the final ten minutes as Shillelagh/Coolboy refused to throw in the towel.

Dan Nolan and Wayne Kinsella, who was turning up in positions all over the field, kept plugging away with their defence battling hard to keep the Ashford attack at bay.

Dan Behan scored a critically important point with seven minutes left on the clock, reducing the gap to a goal.

Ashford tried hard to respond but were thwarted of an insurance point.

With three minutes to go Ashford's worst fears were realised when the battling Dan Nolan, who had a great second half stint for the Coollattin men, fired a ground shot through a crowded goalmouth past Ashford goalie William Hender Phillips to bring the sides level again at 1-11 to 0-14.

Shillelagh/Coolboy were elated while Ashford were feeling quite the opposite.

Thus the game ended and we went into two periods of extra-time.

The game was won and lost in the first period of extra-time. Having escaped defeat in the final minutes of the drawn game, Shillelagh/Coolboy were on a high and played accordingly.

Brendan Behan pointed after thirty seconds, Daire Foley finished off a long run downfield from his full back position with another point and Wayne Kinsella had two more scores - one with his fist - to leave his side four points up at the break. Ashford failed to score in this period.

Garry Murphy, Wayne Kinsella and Johnny Willoughby had three points in as many minutes in the second period to leave the Finnegan Cup on its way South.

But Ashford were handed a possible lifeline when they were awarded a penalty.

Paddy Byrne between the posts had so often in the past pulled the trigger in this situation but now he found himself in Graham Mooney's sights as the Ashford man expertly placed his shot to Paddy's right.

Cormac Doyle followed with a pointed '45'. Now the gap was back again to a goal at 1-18 to 1-15.

However, Brendan Behan slotted over the insurance point as Shillelagh/Coolboy ran out as deserving winners.

Just before the call of time Ashford lost Jamie Byrne to a red card.

The Finnegan Cup was presented to joint captains Dan Nolan and Brendan Behan by County Cathaoirleach, Martin Fitzgerald.

Scorers - Shilelagh:Wayne Kinsella 0-6, Brendan Behan 0-5, Dan Nolan 1-0, Garry Murphy 0-2, Dan Behan 0-2, John Willoughby 0-2, Jonathon Smyth, Daire Foley 0-1 each. Ashford: Brendan Manning 0-5, Ross Quinn 0-4, Cormac Doyle 0-5, Graham Mooney 1-0, David Dowling and Colm Doyle 0-1 each.

Shillelagh/Coolboy: Paddy Byrne; Garrett Gregan, Daire Foley, Jack Dewhurst; Jonathon Smyth, Paddy Hennessy, Aaron Kinsella; Dan Nolan, Sean Carroll; PJ O'Keeffe, Johnny Willoughby, Dan Behan; Wayne Kinsella, Garry Murphy, Brendan Behan. Subs; Noel Murphy and James Gregan.

Ashford: William Hender Philips; Rian O'Dwyer, Michael Dickenson, Rob Clarkson; Robbie Keenan, Danny Kavanagh, David Dowling; David Nolan, Brian Shannon; Ross Quinn, Brendan Manning, Gavin Weir; Dean Mooney, Cormac Doyle, Colm Doyle. Subs: Call Connolly, Graham Mooney, Cian Marah, Daniel Rooney, Jamie Byrne.

Referee: Pat Dunne (Hollywood).    

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