Friday 24 November 2017

McGourty the hero as St Gall's deny hosts in shootout

Kieran McGourty of St Gall’s scores his side’s winning penalty past Kilmacud ‘keeper David Nestor on Saturday. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Kieran McGourty of St Gall’s scores his side’s winning penalty past Kilmacud ‘keeper David Nestor on Saturday. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Daragh O Conchúir

A huge crowd turned up in Glenalbyn for the final of the Volkswagen Senior Football Sevens as hosts Kilmacud Crokes reached the final, but their hopes of retaining the title were dashed by St Gall's in a penalty shootout.

The tournament had begun at 11.0 on Saturday morning with 32 teams - and seven hours later, they had been whittled down to two.

In what was one of the most competitive renewals ever, with three of the four quarter-finals going to penalties - including Kilmacud edging past Dublin rivals Thomas Davis and St Gall's sneaking past Leixlip - it was no surprise that the decider would end in similar circumstances.

With the sun shining and the crowds gathering around the kickers, Kieran McGourty planted the winning spot kick, after Callum Pearson's piledriver had rebounded off the underside of the crossbar and out.

Kevin Niblock will receive most of the plaudits, though, as he scored 1-8, including a goal and two points in the last two minutes to reel in a five-point deficit, while Niall O'Neill was outstanding too and was named man of the match.

For much of proceedings, it looked like Kilmacud would complete a Sevens double, after winning the hurling equivalent a fortnight ago.

They led all the way until Niblock goaled in the very last attack, last year's man of the match Pat Burke opening the scoring from a free.

Aidan Jones scored a brilliant goal soon after Mark Kelly got St Gall's off the mark, but it was close at the interval, with the Antrim men trailing by just 1-4 to 0-6.

Aidan Gribben made a brilliant save from Jones soon after the restart but Pearson finished with composure after the home side had carved out the goal chance magnificently.

Niblock kept the Saints in touch but when David Gough adjudged that Burke had been fouled in the square, the Clare forward picked himself up off the ground to finish with aplomb and make it 3-6 to 0-10.

But Niblock converted a couple of frees to get within three and the Antrim attacker was at the end of an excellent move to rescue his side, and it ended St Gall's 1-12, Kilmacud Crokes 3-6 before the penalty drama saw the Antrim men win 3-2.

Scorers - St Gall's: K Niblock 1-8 (0-6 frees); C Burke 0-2, M Kelly, R Wilson 0-1 each

Kilmacud Crokes: P Burke 1-2 (1-0 pen, 0-2 frees); A Jones 1-1; C Pearson 1-0; C O'Connor 0-2; A McGowan 0-1

St Gall's: K McGourty, M Kelly, A Gribben, T Ó Ciaráin, S Burke, K Niblock, B Bradley, C Burke, N O'Neill, R Wilson

Kilmacud Crokes: D Nestor, A Jones, E Culligan, S Horan, A McGowan, T Fox, S Williams, C Pearson, C O'Connor, P Burke

Ref: D Gough (Meath)

Quarter-Finals: Thomas Davis 1-12 Kilmacud Crokes 1-12 (Kilmacud Crokes win 3-1 on penalties) St Olaf's 2-10 Bellaghy 2-10 (Bellaghy win 2-1 on penalties) Carbury 3-9 Castlewellan 1-14 eixlip 2-8 St Gall's 2-8 (St Gall's win 3-2 on penalties)

Semi-Finals: Kilmacud Crokes 4-9 Bellaghy 0-10 Carbury 1-9 St Gall's 0-14

Final: St Gall's 1-12 Kilmacud Crokes 3-6 (St Gall's win 3-2 on pens)

Irish Independent

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