U16 HURLING C CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL -HEROIC CROKES DENIED BY SUDDEN DEATH PENALTIES!
U16 C CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL - HEROIC CROKES DENIED BY SUDDEN DEATH PENALTIES!
KILMACUD CROKES B 3-14 FINGAL GAELS 2-17 (AFTER EXTRA TIME)
(Fingal win 3-2 in sudden death penalties.)
Photo Credit : Frank Murphy
KILMACUD CROKES: M.Peters 2-2, C.O’Donnell 1-4(2 f), S.McIntyre 0-5, T.Rafferty 0-2, N.McArdle 0-1(65).
FINGAL GAELS: B.Galvin 2-2, N.Foster 0-6(3 f), S.Crosbie 0-5(1 f), L.Galvin 0-3, M.Deegan, 0-1.
The Under 16B Hurlers of Kilmacud Crokes and Fingal Gaels delivered an epic Championship final on Saturday 20th November which was in doubt until the very last puck of normal time, extra time, normal penalties and sudden death penalties!
It was only looking back on this match that one almost felt sorry for the English soccer team and their supporters after the penalty shoot-out in the Euro final back in July!!
Fingal Gaels opened the scoring after 3 minutes when the excellent No.6 Senan Crosbie made a strong run up the right hand side before shooting from 40 metres. (0-1 to 0-0)
Crokes then had an anxious moment but good defending by Dan Twomey lifted the siege and the ball was worked out to the right to wing forward Emre Acka who played the ball into full forward Sean McIntyre who stuck Crokes 1st point on 5 minutes. (0-1 to 0-1)
On 8 minutes, Fingal’s Dublin centre forward Brendan Galvin gained possession and ran into Crokes centre back Bobby Mellon and was somewhat fortunate to be awarded a free when he fell over. Fingal’s other Dublin player Nathan Foster tapped over to restore the lead. (0-2 to 0-1).
Then Crokes started to exert more control and Ciaran O’Donnell equalised from a free on 20 m following a foul on Zeki Acka. (0-2 to 0-2)
On 13 minutes, corner back Niall McArdle gave Crokes a huge boost when he sent over a 65. (FG 0-2 KC 0-3)
The Crokes half backs of Mellon, Twomey and Cillian Molloy, along with midfielders Zeki Acka and Dan (The Engine)Buggy and half forward Robert Phelan were getting on top now and the pressure was rewarded further with a magnificent point from Rafferty on his own 65 metres line and O’Donnell from 30 metres to leave it 5 pts to 2 for Crokes at the water break. (KC 0-5 FG 0-2)
Crokes carried on where they’d left off and Rafferty drove a low ball in from 20 metres which the keeper was relieved to see just creeping over the bar. Crokes won the puck out and worked the ball to left corner forward Matthew Peters who hit a lovely point from an acute angle 20 metres out. (KC 0-7 FG 0-2)
Foster replied with a free from 45 metres on 20 minutes to keep his side in touch. (KC 0-7 FG 0-3)
2 minutes later following a long free from McArdle which Gaels batted out, McIntyre did well to regain possession on the left touchline and turned his man before striking a brilliant point from 30 metres.
(KC 0-8 FG 0-3)
On 23 minutes Foster struck another fine free from 50 metres. (KC 0-8 FG 0-4)
Following a good run by Foster, Gaels No.10 James Elder was unlucky to see his shot hit the post and the Crokes mentors were very relieved to see the defence somehow scramble the ball out for a 65 which was missed by Foster.
On 26 minutes, Peters won possession out on the left side line and hit another lovely point from another acute angle! (KC 0-9 FG 0-4)
2 minutes before the break, Dan Twomey made a great defensive clearance which was won by O’Donnell who fed Rafferty who struck a great shot from 50 metres which one umpire signalled had gone over but unfortunately for Crokes, referee Brian O’Connor ruled it wide.
O’Donnell further extended the lead for Crokes with a fine free from the left following a yellow card foul by Crosbie on McIntyre. ( KC 0-10 FG 0-4).
Crokes had a chance of a goal just before half time when a ball in from O’Donnell was fumbled by goalkeeper Conor Laird but the incoming forwards just weren’t quick enough to punish. Nevertheless 6 points seemed like a reasonable reflection of Crokes dominance in the 1st half.
2ND HALF – RUDE AWAKENING!
Any thoughts Crokes might have had about having a good lead to defend in the 2nd half were quickly dismissed when Foster won possession for Gaels from the restart and drove at the heart of the defence; following a scramble for the sliothar on the 14 metre line, Galvin gathered and seemed to waltz to the right of several defenders before driving a low shot past Cormac Hall in goal. (KC 0-10 FG 1-4)
Worse was to follow for Crokes a minute later when Crosbie launched a dangerous high ball into the square; Hall did well to gather but was “enveloped” by 2 incoming forwards who turned him over and Galvin again was on hand to bat it into the net. (KC 0-10 FG 2-4)
Crokes now faced a stern examination of their character which they answered with the spirit they’ve shown all season.
Having been hit with a such a “whirlwind”, Crokes battled hard to get back into the game and resolute defence stopped Gaels taking the lead where McArdle came to the rescue on more than 1 occasion.
Then in the 39th minute, following great pressure by Buggy and O’Donnell around the middle, O’Donnell played a nice ball into McIntyre who caught it over his head, turned and hit a great point to settle Crokes’ nerves and edge them back into the lead. (KC 0-11 FG 2-4)
Gaels drew level again a minute later when full forward Liam Galvin scored a nice point from the left. (KC 0-11 FG 2-5)
They then went into a 2 point lead with great efforts from wing forward Matthew Deegan and Crosbie in the next 2 minutes and Galvin was almost in for a hattrick but desperate “last ditch defending” by Molloy and full back Adam Golden forced him to bat the ball wide with the goal at his mercy! (KC 0-11 FG 2-7)
With the tide going against them, Crokes needed a break from somewhere and just before the water break they got it.
Following great foraging for “dirty ball” around the middle by ½ forwards Emre Acka and Robert Phelan, Tadhg Rafferty gained possession and drove a long ball into the square which the goalie fumbled and in the ensuing chaos Peters struck the sliothar into the bottom left corner to put Crokes back ahead! (KC 1-11 FG 2-7)
Galvin almost put Gaels back into the lead but was thwarted by a good reflex save by Hall and tidying up by Golden.
Crokes then could have really taken the initiative when Rafferty made a break down the middle before finding McIntyre who drew 2 defenders to the left of the goal before putting a great hand pass into Peters who shot inches wide.
With 5 minutes of normal time remaining, Foster was short with a 65 but following the scramble which ensued he followed up to collect breaking ball and hit the equaliser from 20 metres. (KC 1-11 FG 2-8)
Gaels then put Crokes under severe pressure but great defending from Molloy, Golden and Buggy lifted the siege. When McArdle drove a long free over to the right, Zeki Acka did very well to gather on the side line before playing it up to McIntyre who evaded several defenders and shot a great point with 2 minutes of normal time remaining. (KC 1-12 FG 2-8)
2 minutes into injury time, Dan Twomey gathered on the left touchline following a defensive clearance by Crokes and seemed to be pushed over the line but the line ball was awarded to Gaels.
Foster sent the sliotar in towards the square and although McArdle was struck in the head by the butt of a Gaels hurl, play went on and Liam Galvin hit the equaliser much to the relief of his team mates and mentors. The final whistle sounded after.(KC 1-12 FG 2-9)
As is often the case, the team which has equalised plays with the new lease of life in extra time and Gaels hit 3 points in the 1st 5 minutes by their main triumvirate of Crosbie, Foster and Galvin.
Crokes needed to dig deep once again and following a great long free into the “D” by Hall, O’Donnell latched onto the ball and showed great composure to bat the ball(a la Shane O’Donnell) past Laird to level the match once more. (2-12 FG 2-12)
It remained level until ½ time of extra time but once again Gaels threw the sink at Crokes from the restart with a fine point from Liam Galvin on the right in the 1st minute. They won possession from the puck out and attacked again and it looked ominous when Brendan Galvin ran into the D but was met with a hard shoulder by sub wing back Seán Coogan; although shunted a metre back, Galvin still had the composure to strike the ball over the bar for a 2 point lead. (KC 2-12 FG 2-14)
Crokes got some respite after Robert Phelan was fouled; Rafferty drove the free long and McIntyre won the ball on the edge of Gaels’ D where he turned and stroked it over the bar. (KC 2-13 FG 2-14)
There followed a few “skirmishes” at each goal before Foster added another point from 30 metres with 4 minutes left. (KC 2-12 FG 2-15)
From the puck out Molloy won possession for Crokes and drove it long where O’Donnell did very well to gather the ball, avoid a “clothes line tackle” and drive it over to narrow the gap to a point. (KC 2-14 FG 2-15)
However from the puck out, Crosbie fielded the ball on his own 45m line and ghosted past a few players before hitting a wonderful point from 60 metres. (KC 2-14 FG 2-16)
A minute later, it looked like game up when Crosbie pointed a free from his own 65 metre line with the game 30 seconds into injury time! (KC 2-14 FG 2-17)
At this stage it was a goal or nothing for Crokes and Hall pucked out to the centre where Mellon broke the ball down before Zeki Acka managed to pass to Rafferty on his own 65 metre line. Rafferty launched a huge ball into the square where the goalie could only parry it before Peters was on hand to scramble it into the net for a dramatic equaliser and the final “final whistle”! (KC 3-14 FG 2-17)
After such an epic battle, it seemed unfair that these young players had to face the dreaded penalty shoot out and as the Crokes mentors deliberated over who would be “the 5”, the players came over and told them that they’d already decided among themselves showing a maturity and unity of purpose!
Initially it was going Crokes way as O’Donnell and McIntyre had scored leaving Crokes 2-1 up after both sides had taken 4 with Hall also having saved well.
The valiant Tadhg Rafferty stepped up to take the 5th and struck a powerful shot to the right which was brilliantly saved by Laird in the goal. Liam Galvin equalised with the next penalty to bring it into sudden death.
Laird saved the Crokes penalty leaving Brendan Galvin the opportunity to make up for missing his 1st penalty and he gave Hall no chance much to the joy of his team mates and all in Fingal Gaels.
So concluded a memorable season for Crokes with much to be proud of, having finished runners up in U16 League Division 5 after being pipped by St. Peregrines in a playoff final and also losing to the lottery of a penalty shoot out in the Championship final.
CROKES MENTOR JAMES O’DONNELL: “While I’m disappointed with the final outcome, I’m so proud of the boys. This team is an amalgam of what were our U14 B & C teams and they’ve really demonstrated what can be achieved by the unity of a team working collectively and I think there’s even more to come from them in the years ahead.”
"I would also like to thank the subs who didn’t play today such as Cillian Cooney, Ben Taylor and David Purcell and the injured players Peter Bradley, Conor Murphy and Dan Sheerin who came along to support the team today - all of these lads have been an integral part of the squad this season and will continue to be.”
FINGAL GAELS’ MENTOR BARRY SHELLY: “I thought it was a titanic struggle and a replay might have been a fairer outcome but the rules dictated penalties. The “never say die” attitude of both teams made it one of the most memorable juvenile finals I’ve ever seen. Their was a mutual respect between both teams and they both conducted themselves well during the match and afterwards.”
CROKES MENTOR MATTIE TWOMEY: “It was a cracker of a game – huge commitment was shown by our lads against a very talented opposition team.
Congratulations to Fingal Gaels which is a combination of St.Finnians and Wild Geese on winning a county championship – it’s a huge achievement for both of these clubs.”
KILMACUD CROKES: C.Hall,F.Fitzgerald,A.Golden,N.McArdle,C.Molloy,B.Mellon,D.Twomey,D.Buggy,Z.Acka,C.O’Donnell,T.Rafferty,R.Phelan,E.Acka,S.McIntyre,M.Peters.
Subs F.Robertson for Fitzgerald, S.Coogan for McArdle, J.Candon for Phelan, C.Cooney, D.Purcell, C.Coogan.
FINGAL GAELS: C.Laird, T.Kennedy,J.Ralph,C.Markey,S.Crosbie,D.Foster,N.Foster,C.Duignan,J.Elder,B.Galvin,M.Deegan,G.Kennedy,L.Galvin,L.Nolan.