Competing in their seventh Under 21 Final in a row, Drumkeerin banished the pain of their Intermediate Final defeat by easily seeing off the challenge of Carrigallen to claim the 2008 Under 21 B Championship title last Sunday in Ballinaglera.
U-21 B CHAMPIONHSIP FINAL
A long year of footballing action came to a close for Drumkeerin and Carrigallen on Sunday last in Ballinaglera.
For the Drumkeerin players there was plenty to celebrate as they went a long way towards banishing the pain of defeat from the intermediate championship final while for Carrigallen there was little comfort to be found in defeat as the were out fought by their opponents.
The pain of defeat in the intermediate championship final was obviously a huge source of motivation for the Drumkeerin players as right from the throw in they looked like a team that were determined not to lose.
Right from the throw-in it was evident that this would be Carrigallens toughest match to date as the Drumkeerin players harried and competed for every ball.
The intensity with which the Drumkeerin players started the game was rewarded inside the opening minute as Darragh Flynn was played through onÓgoal and he finished confidently to the CarrigallenÓgoal to give his side the perfect start.
Drumkeerins excellent start continued as Flynn converted a third minute free while Carrigallen struggled to get going.
Finals are often decided by a significant turning point and Carrigallen may well point to the Ciaran Flynn effort which went wide of the goal when it seemed destined to find the net.
With the game five minutes old, Carrigallen attacked with purpose for the first time as Cillian Ward, Eamon OMalley and Ciaran OReilly all combined to carve open the Drumkeerin defence. When presented with the opportunity to get his side back in the game Ciaran Flynns sidefooted effort flashed just wide.
Having been allowed off the hook, Drumkeerin extended their lead with further points from Darragh Flynn and an Eddie McTiernan free.
It was fair to say that Drumkeerin, competing in their seventh consecutive U-21 final, and leading by 1-3 to no score had enjoyed the perfect opening 10 minutes and it got even better for them when Thomas Davitt struck for his sides second goal in the thirteenth minute.
Nobody in Drumkeerin will complain, but the goal was slightly fortuitous.
Davitt seemed to be well contained by the Carrigallen defence near the touchline and byline but he swung a foot on the ball, presumably looking to pick out one of the forwards in and around the goalmouth.
Somehow the ball managed to deceive goalkeeper Stephen Smith and curl into the goal to give Drumkeerin a commanding lead.
When captain Keith Gallagher pointed to open up a 10 point lead there wouldnt have been too many willing to put money on a Carrigallen comeback but to their credit they finished the half strongly.
Eamon OMalley had already passed up the opportunity to register Carrigallens opening score as he put two frees wide before Ciaran Flynn scored a wonderful point from a sideline ball.
Flynn who at times seemed to be on a one man mission to drag his team kicking and screaming to victory converted a free and then three minutes from time was on hand to finish an excellent team move to score Carrigallens only goal of the game.
Cillian Ward, Francis ORourke, and Eamon OMalley all linked up well before the ball came to Ciaran Flynn and this time there would be no mistake as Flynn finished soccer style to the net.
On the stroke of half-time Eamon OMalley pointed to leave the contest very much alive with Drumkeerin leading by 2-5 to 1-3.
If Carrigallen were to have any hope of fighting their way back into the contest they knew that a good start to the second half was essential. Unfortunately for them that is not how it transpired as Drumkeerin regained control.
Thomas Davitt was one of Drumkeerins standout performers but this was a team effort and the likes of Jason Byrne, Fintan Harvey,Eddie McTiernan and Darragh Flynn and midfielders James McPartland and Thomas Lavin all played a key role in defence for the north Leitrim side who built on their half-time lead, starting the second-half in the same determined manner.
Three minutes into the second half an Eddie McTiernan pointed free helped regain the initiative for Drumkeerin in what was a tough and physical opening to the half.
Further points from Darragh Flynn and another Eddie McTiernan free helped extend the lead for Drumkeerin before matters became considerably tougher for Carrigallen.
Frustrated with some refereeing decisions and presumably with the manner in which his side were playing, Eoin Ward decided to air his grievances to referee Cyril McKeon.
McKeon took exception to the protests and brandished Ward, who one can only assume used some choice language, with a red card.
A further McTiernan pointed free should have signalled the end for Carrigallen, but there was one man determined that his side would not go down without a fight and Ciaran Flynn scored four unanswered points to reduce the deficit to six points.
During this period Carrigallen threatened the most unlikely of comebacks and gave a glimpse of their performances in earlier rounds of the competition but ultimately it proved too little, too late.
With the advantage of an extra man and appearing to have fresher legs than their opponents, Drumkeerin scored three points in the final minutes of the game through Keith Gallagher, StephenÓgilhooley and Dean McVeigh to ensure U-21 championship glory for the second time in three years for Drumkeerin.
In doing so they went a long way towards banishing the heartbreaking memories of the intermediate championship when they were defeated by Aughnasheelin with virtually the last kick of the game.
Barry McPadden, Jason Byrne, Dean McVeigh (0-1), Thomas Davitt (1-0), Aidan Dolan, Fintan Harvey, Keith Gallagher (0-2), James McPartland, Thomas Lavin, Eddie McTiernan (0-4), StephenÓgilhooley (0-2), Darragh Flynn (1-3), Kevin Forde. Subs: Brendan McNama for Forde (36 mins).
Stephen Smith, Barry Reilly, CillianÓgrey, Francis ORourke, Austin Morrow, Stephen Kenny, Ciaran Flynn (1-6), Gary Reynolds, Ciaran Reilly, Eoin Ward, Daniel Lyons, Eamon OMalley (0-1), Cillian Ward. Subs: Damien Masterson for B Reilly (30 mins), Aaron McManus for ORourke (50 mins), Liam ORourke for C Ward (57 mins).
Referee: Cyril McKeon.
This full report is available thanks to Philip Rooney for the Leitrim Observer
– its available in this weeks
18-Dec-08 by Philip Rooney – LeitrimObserver.ie