Kiltale 5-12 Clann na nGael 4-14
In the first round of this competition Kiltale went to Athboy to take on the same opposition only to be defeated by a massive 26 points. It was a bad day at the office that day, heads went down early and all oncerned knew that this side were better than that performance.
Fast forward four weeks and the sides meet once again, this time in the final. The desire and hunger shown by Kiltale from the start of this game was there to be seen, there was to be no repeat of the performance from a month earlier - that defeat needed to be rectified and each player was committed to the task.
True to their word, the maroons took an ealy lead and were 5 points to 2 up early on thanks to points from Eoghan Frayne and Adam McDonnell, the latter being a fantasic strike from inside his own half.
Clann na nGael are too good a side not to respond and they did so quickly, scoring 1-04 without reply in a purple patch in which they scored both from play and from frees. Kiltale, found themselves 4 points down and in need of some inspiration. That came quickly from their captain, Frayne once more led from the front and the next three scores were goals, two from Frayne and one from the mobile Evan Clarke from the full forward position. Clarke was asked to play out of position once more due to injuries and players away but stuck to the task well and could have had a second goal following a mazy run but opted to pass to corner forward Sean Deegan who's shot was blocked close to goal. The Athboy side had added three frees in between the Kiltale goals but trailed once more and Kiltale led 3-05 to 1-09 at half time.
The second half began as a tight affair once more with the Kiltale backline led by the hard-working Gavan McVann and Aidan Fraher soaking up some early pressure, they were greatly helped by the close marking of Seamus Anderson, Jeff Wall, Vinny Walsh and Luke Moran, the latter showing no ill effects of a month spent on the continent - supporters on the line spoke of rumours that he had brought a few hurls with him and taught a few French lads the skills of the game.
A word also for the performance of the engine-room of Kiltale's midfield - Michael Brady was two years out of the game before coming back this year and the energy he expends over 60 minutes is extrodinary and lifts all his team-mates around him. Adam Byrne at half forward played in a similar manner, another player who has missed some time on the pitch but gives his all and set up a number of scores throughout the game.
The first point of the second half for Kiltale was arguably the score of the game as it was a real team score. Aidan Fraher won a ball he had no right to win in the half back line and released to Frayne to his right, Eoghan spotted Adam McDonnell free on the other side of the pitch and pinged a diagonal ball straight to his right hand, McDonnell in turn saw Evan Clarke make a dart through the middle and again an inch perfect pass was caught on the run by the no. 14 who slotted it over the black spot with precision. The score brought great cheers of appreciation from the supporters and inspired Kiltale to kick on in the second half.
The teams traded scores in that early part of the second half before Sean Deegan, a real poacher, popped up with a vital goal following good work from Dean Quinn and Eoin McCabe, this increased the gap to five points once more and put pressure back on CnaG.
Further points went over thanks to Frayne and McDonnell and Vinny Walsh arrived from the half back position to score a peach. Walsh is the youngest of the starting side and has proved throughout the games this year that he is well able to step up to the under 16 ranks and one to watch for the future.
Another goal from Frayne and Kiltale were on top but not complacent, and a goal mid-way through the second half gave CnaG hope. After a period of no scores for either the Athboy side were bang back in the match with two goals in three minutes - all of a sudden it was game on and they threw everything at the maroons in the closing stages. Kiltale introduced Darragh McVann to bolster a tiring defence and Josh Dunne in the forwards but it was one man who stepped up to the mark to keep the oppostion out - Liam Boyle made four outstanding saves in the last 7/8 minutes to keep his side ahead, if any one of those chances went in Kiltale were in real trouble but the no.1 in the Kiltale goal was not going to let this victory slip away, saving shots which looked destined for the back of the net time and again. Charlie McCormack made a late appearance as sub to freshen up the forwards who were attacking on the break late on to relieve the defence.
In the end it was real backs to the wall stuff as the underdogs held on with resolute defence and superb goalkeeping but Kiltale edged it by a single point.
Kiltale: Liam Boyle; Seamus Anderson, Aidan Fraher, Jeff Wall; Vinny Walsh (0-1), Gavan McVann, Luke Moran; Michael Brady, Adam McDonnell (0-2); Adam Byrne, Eoghan Frayne (3-7), Eoin McCabe; Sean Deegan (1-0), Evan Clarke (0-2), Dean Quinn.
Subs: Josh Dunne, Darragh McVann, Charlie McCormack, Sean Lynch.