They may have lost their Senior Championship status but Aughawillan ensured that 2008 finished on a high last Saturday when they held out for a surprise and narrow Masonite Division Two League Final victory over arch rivals and firm favourites Sean O Heslins at the end of a nail biting showdown in Ballinamore.
MASONITE DIVISION 2 LEAGUE FINAL
SEAN HESLINs 0-9
County Minor star Morgan Quinn slotted over an injury time free to ensure victory for Aughawillan after Sean O Heslins had staged a determined second half come back rally, during which they wiped out a six points interval deficit, to get on level terms by the 56th minute.
It was quite a turnaround in fortunes for Aughawillan who had suffered a massive 0-18 to 0-7 defeat at the hands of their great rivals at the beginning of November but an excellent first half set them up for a famous win.
Aughawillan took complete command in the first half of this game and put O Heslins on the rack during most of the exchanges. But O Heslins turned the tables on their neighbours for most of the second half and outgunned them by eight points to three in that period.
However, Aughawillan prevented O Heslins from getting their noses in front at any stage in the last thirty minutes, despite the fact that the Ballinamore men camped in the Willies half of the field for almost seventy percent of this periods exchanges.
When it came to putting the scores on the board, Aughawillan was by far the more clinical side of the two on view. Much to the annoyance of their supporters and mentors, Sean O Heslins squandered numerous chances, especially in the first half from frees and play.
Michael Quinn edged Aughawillan into an early lead when shot over just 32 seconds after the throw-in. Over the next nine minutes, Aughawillan increased their lead with a Sean Quinn point and a Barry Prior free after Prior himself had been illegally impeded by an O Heslins defender.
In the 19th minute, Morgan Quinn put Aughawillan four points ahead when he fired over.
Sean O Heslins got their account opened two minutes later with a well-executed Brian Cafferty point after good support play by Sean Murray. Caffertys point ended the Ballinamore mens Scóring drought, as O Heslins had registered a number of bad wides in the opening 20 minutes.
Aughawillan had a lucky escape in the 22nd minute when Wayne McKeon blazed a goal chance wide with only keeper John Prior to beat.
But a free tapped over by Morgan Quinn six minutes later, following a foul by Jim McTague on Ryan Creamer, restored Aughawillan four point advantage.
In the 29th minute, Barry Prior slotted over another free and another Jim McTague foul, this time on Barry Prior deep first half injury time, was punished by Morgan Quinn when he converted three free, to leave Aughawillan 0-7 to 0-1 ahead at the break.
After the restart, Sean O Heslins demonstrated a much improved cutting edge when they whittled Aughawillans advantage down to two points in the opening ten minutes of the second half as David Duignan, Wayne McKeon, Finian Sharpley and Kieran Murray shot a point each from play.
Aughawillan, who had played second fiddle during the first eleven minutes of the second half, replied with a 42nd minute point from a Barry Prior free after Ryan Creamer was fouled.
Sean O Heslins David Duignan, from play, and Aughawillans Morgan Quinn, from a free, swapped a point each at opposite ends in the 45th and 47th minutes.
O Heslins put together a determined rally after which they drew level by the 56th minute. Running at the Aughawillan defence, Ballinamore won three frees, which Finian Sharpley confidently put over, to level matters with just over six minutes of playing action remaining.
However, in the 59th minute O Heslins had a close shave when keeper, Philip Farrelly was forced to come smartly off his line, to prevent a goal bound Gavin Beirne effort from entering his net.
But some two minutes later Joe Honeyman fouled Beirne and Aughawillan was now provided with the opportunity to win the game once Morgan Quinn stepped up and hit over the resultant free.
Wayne McKeon had a chance to force a replay in the 62nd minute after O Heslins was awarded free just inside the 45 metre line. However McKeons shot went wide and after that the Division Two League title was claimed by Aughawillan.
John Prior, Noel Darcy, Paul Prior, Barry McBrien, Gerard McGovern, Kevin McTague, Sean Quinn (0-1), Christopher Prior, Gary Deane, Morgan Quinn (0-5), Michael Quinn (0-1), Barry Prior (0-5), Shane Flanagan, Gavin Beirne, Ryan Creamer. Sub Ciaran Smith for B. Prior (51 mins).
Sean O Heslins
Philip Farrelly, Johnny McWeeney, Joe Honeyman, Liam Ferguson, David Duignan (0-2), Paddy McLoughlin, Jim McTague, Paul McLoughlin, Wayne McKeon (0-1), Anthony McTague, Finian Sharpley (0-4), Brian Cafferty (0-1), Sean Murray, Kieran Murray (0-1), Shane Murphy. Subs James McWeeney for A. McTague (55 mins).
Referee: Sean McCartin.
This full report is available thanks to PJ Leddy for the Leitrim Observer
– its available in this weeks
04-Dec-08 by LeitrimObserver.ie