Killinkere are Cullys Craft Bakery Junior Football champions after thrilling final – Match Report
Shannon Gaels 3-8
at Kingspan Breffni
A haul of 2-1 in the space of two minutes turned this game on its head and handed Killinkere a first county title since 1982 after a thrilling decider.
Last year’s beaten finalists were pushed all the way by an impressive Shannon Gaels side but, in the end, they came up with the vital scores to seal the Sean Leddy Cup.
At half-time, the west Cavan men were a point in front. Killinkere started on the front foot but were unlucky to strike the woodwork twice, via Emmett Fitzsimons and Jason McMahon, with their first attack.
Shannon Gaels made their first advance on goal count when captain Nevin O’Donnell swung in a great point to steady their nerves after 90 seconds. Aaron O’Hara, who came home from Canada for the match and was a late addition to the starting 15, converted a free to make it 0-2 to 0-1 before Killinkere got off the mark with a good point from Jamie Smith.
Smith booted over an excellent point from 40 metres a minute later to tie things up but Shannon Gaels hit the front again with a sweet left-footed strike from Stephen McGrath a minute later.
The Gaels then put some daylight between them. Neil McCabe fielded well in front of the Killinkere goals but his handpass clearance was intercepted by Jason McLoughlin and the county star, who played brilliantly throughout, hit the net from close range.
Killinkere were enjoying lots of possession at this stage but struggling to score, squandering numerous chances. They pulled one back through Ciaran Cusack and then, on 15 minutes, Emmett Fitzsimons beat two men and belted over to make it a two-point game.
The eventual winners spurned a good goal chance when Darren Smith picked Cusack out but the latter’s shot was off target, with Peter McCabe missing another goal chance moments later.
And while Killinkere were employing a running game for the most part, at the other end, the Gaels were playing a lot of long, direct ball to target man Enda McHugh. He got on the end of a pass from McLoughlin and kicked a lovely point to make it 1-4 to 0-5 with six minutes remaining in the half.
Darren Smith, who had a fine game, kicked a poor wide but made amends with a well-taken point but Shannon Gaels were handed a massive boost from their next attack. After a handpass over the top, the ref ruled that Ronan McCaffrey had been impeded and awarded a penalty, which Nevin O’Donnell buried in the top corner.
Suddenly, Killinkere found themselves four points in arrears but they finished the half very strongly. A point from Kevin McCabe was followed by a Darren Smith free and, on the stroke of half-time, they added another. A free from Smith was delivered to the square and won by Paul Brady, who offloaded for Fitzsimons to slot over the bar.
So, at the interval, it was 2-4 to 0-9 but again, Tom O’Reilly’s side began the second half well, O’Donnell setting McLoughlin up for an excellent point after 30 seconds.
Back came Killinkere with a fisted point from the pacey Peter McCabe, who was dangerous throughout. And then the Gaels struck again for a score which really put them in the box seat.
Great work from Ronan McCaffrey released McLoughlin who in turn found McHugh, who smashed to the net. Now, Shannon Gaels were 3-5 to 0-10 ahead.
Jamie Smith hit back for Killinkere and Peter McCabe soon added another but a free from O’Donnell and another point for McLoughlin made it a four-point game as it entered the final quarter.
In the 49th minute, Killinkere pulled one back when Darren Smith curled in an outstanding free from the right wing but again, McLoughlin found himself free and restored the four-point gap with eight minutes to play.
And then, the match, and the season, turned in 120 seconds. A great run forward from Liam McCabe created an opening and he fed Peter McCabe who found the net with a cool low finish.
After a foul on the goalscorer, Smith kicked a free to tie the match with five minutes to play and, in a flash, Killinkere were three ahead when Shannon Gaels were turned over coming out of defence and Kevin McCabe belted to the net.
By now, it was one-way traffic. Emmett Fitzsimons converted a free and then, in the dying seconds, Peter McCabe was felled and from the resulting spot kick, Fitzpatrick took his point.
The final whistle sounded shortly afterwards amid joyous scenes from the Killinkere supporters, players and mentors.
Killinkere: Brian Clarke, Ollie Sharkey, Lewis Fay-Cooper, Neil McCabe, Gary Denning, Liam McCabe, Breen Smith, Kevin McCabe (1-1), Jason McMahon, Darren Smith (0-4, 2f), Paul Brady, Jamie Smith (0-3), Ciaran Cusack (0-1), Emmett Fitzsimons (1-3, 1f, 0-1 pen), Peter McCabe (1-2)
Subs: Noel McGovern for Brady (39), Ciaran Sexton for Cusack (42), Mark Farrelly Jnr for Sharkey (47), Daniel Sweeney for Smith (50), Anthony Brady for P McCabe (60)
Shannon Gaels: Liam O’Reilly, Donall Flanagan, Stephen McManus, Conor McCaffrey, Daniel Fitzpatrick, Jason McLoughlin (1-3), Stephen McGrath (0-1), Sean McHugh, Aaron O’Hara (0-1f), Philip McGoldrick, Nevin O’Donnell (1-2, 1-0 pen, 1f), Ronan McCaffrey, Kevin McGovern, Enda McHugh (1-1), Conor McNiff
Subs: Kenneth McNiff for K McGovern (16 mins), Kieran McPartlin for C McNiff (ht), Niall McGrath for McGoldrick (50), Brian McLoughlin for D Fitzpatrick (58), Ollie Nolan for S McGrath (60)
Ref: Barry McMenamin (Kill Shamrocks)