Melvin Gaels emerged victorious in the U-21 B Championship Final in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada on Saturday afternoon last after an absorbing contest against Glenfarne/ Kiltyclogher but they had to do it the hard way as Glenfarne/ Kiltyclogher more than played their part in the contest.
U-21 B CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
MELVIN GAELS 1-12
Both sides had periods of dominance during the game and for a period it seemed as though the excellent work of the Glenfarne/Kiltyclogher defenders coupled with the precise finishing of the forwards would see them victorious.
However, Melvin Gaels were able to overcome the body blow of conceding goals at critical times and responded in style to emerge victorious.
Paul Og Ferguson joked when he was accepting the cup on behalf of his team, the Glenfarne/Kiltyclogher players will point to the lose of their captain Fergal Clancy, who was absent with a broken figure and say they would have emerged victorious had he been present.
Of course such talk is hypothetical and even without their influential captain, Glenfarne/Kiltyclogher more than played their part in what was a nail-biting and very enjoyable game played in fine conditions despite the torrential rain that had fallen in the days leading up to the game.
Melvin Gaels started the game with real purpose and were rewarded for their early pressure when Peter McGowan pointed after Conor Sheridans pass.
The Kinlough men were unable to build on their positive start as the Glenfarne/Kiltyclogher defence held firm, with Sean McManus playing particularly well and when the opportunities arose to launch attacks of their own they did so and were duly rewarded.
By the time the game was nine minute old three Diarmuid Clancy frees gave Glenfarne/Kiltyclogher an early advantage and gave an early indication that this game would go right to the wire.
Both sides had opportunities to add to their tallys and while Melvin Gaels were enjoying more possession they were finding it difficult to penetrate the Glenfarne/Kiltyclogher rearguard.
The pressure that Melvin Gaels had been applying was rewarded midway through the half when Conor Sheridan claimed a Jessie McGuinness to point and reduce the deficit to the narrowest margin.
However, in keeping with the unpredictable nature of the game, Glenfarne/Kiltyclogher struck back in emphatic style.
Having won possession 35 meters from the Melvin Gaels goal, the ball was passed quickly and decisively before Diarmuid Clancy picked out Padraig Sweeney whose shot crept inside the left post despite the best efforts of a defender and goalkeeper Paul Rooney.
Having enjoyed so much possession and having then suffered the blow of conceding the games opening goal, the question was how would Melvin Gaels respond.
The response was exactly what Manager Gareth Phelan would have wanted as his side dominated the remainder of the half.
One area where Melvin Gaels were having a lot of joy was from Glenfarne/Kiltycloghers kick-outs and his proved to be the case when Jessie McGuinness rose unopposed to claim possession before passing to Conor Sheridan. With the minimum of fuss Sheridan pointed to reduce the arrears to three points.
The Glenfarne/Kiltyclogher was further reduced when James Bredin converted a free after Packie Hill was fouled.
Although he was having difficulty with his kickouts there was nothing wrong with Francis Keaneys shot stopping as he illustrated twice in quick succession to deny both James Bredin and Conor Sheridan both of whom seemed destined to score their sides opening goal.
A Paul Og Ferguson free six minutes before the break levelled matters before Declan Roper scored a fine individual point in the 30th minute to retake the lead for Melvin Gaels.
Having been held scoreless since Padraig Sweeneys 19th minute goal, Glenfarne/Kiltyclogher completed the first half Scóring when Diarmuid Clancy converted a free after Dermot Harkin was fouled.
With the scores level at 1-4 to 0-7 as the second half got underway not too many in Pairc Sean would have been able to predict with any degree of certainty who would emerge victorious.
Having finished the second half so strongly, Melvin Gaels scored the opening point of the half through Packie Hill just 23 seconds after the restart. However, any thoughts that Glenfarne/Kiltyclogher would be over run for the remainder of the game vanished within a minute as they struck for their second goal of the game.
After James Murrays initial shot hit the post, Ronan McGowan was on hand to apply the finishing touch and duly opened up a two point lead for his side.
Having worked so hard to recover from the setback of conceding the first goal questions were now being asked as to how Melvin Gaels would respond to the challenge of having to do the same again.
To their credit they responded well, but once again they found the Glenfarne/Kiltyclogher defence in top form while Melvin Gaels needed to guard themselves against the pacy counter-attacks which were so effective in the opening half.
One such counter-attack almost resulted in Glenfarne/Kiltycloghers third goal but Niall Clancy was denied by the outstretched boot of Paul Rooney.
Still trailing by two points and with 13 minutes of the game remaining, Melvin Gaels lifted their level of intensity and were duly rewarded when Conor Sheridan picked out midfield colleague Declan Roper after a good passing move. Roper made no mistake with his pointed effort to reduce the deficit to the narrowest of margins.
A Paul Og Ferguson point drew the sides level, before Melvin Gaels struck decisively for a goal that gave them a lead they had worked so hard to establish.
James Bredin picked out Packie Hill who found the Glenfarne/Kiltyclogher goal with a nice finish.
Having enjoyed the lead for a sizable portion of the game, Glenfarne/Kiltyclogher were now left with no option other than to attack in a bid to get themselves back into contention.
A Diarmuid Clancy free reduced the deficit to a solitary point, but the Melvin Gaels defenders were now showing that what they were capable of as they made life very difficult for their north Leitrim rivals.
At the other end two points in as many minutes from James Bredin, who scored from a tight angle and a Paul Og Ferguson free after Jessie McGuinness was fouled extended Melvin Gaels lead to four points and with just five minutes remaining it was looking as though they were on course for victory.
Glenfarne/Kiltyclogher gave their all in the closing stages but found the Melvin Gaels defence, marshalled by Shane Ryan and Patrick McGowan in fine form.
There was time for just one more score as Diarmuid Clancy converted a free after Shane McLoughlin was fouled and Melvin Gaels held on for what was a deserved, but hard earned victory after a memorable game which both teams contributed greatly to.
Paul Rooney, Shane Ryan, Patrick McGowan, Sean Kilkenny, Paul Brennan, Donal Clancy, Jessie McGuinness, Conor Sheridan (0-2), Declan Roper (0-2), Packie Hill (1-1), Peter McGowan (0-1), Paul Og Ferguson (0-3), James Bredin (0-3). Sub: Patrick Kilkenny for Peter McGowan (35 mins).
Francis Keaney, Shane Ferguson, Paul Gilligan, Sean McManus, John McHugh, Diarmuid Clancy (0-6), Dermot Harkin, Niall Clancy, James Murray, Shane McLoughlin, Padraig Sweeney (1-0), Ronan McGowan (1-0), Shane McLoughlin. Sub: Stephen McManus for McGowan (52 mins), Daire Clancy for Sweeney (57 mins).
Referee: Brendan Sammon.
Article courtesy of Leitrim Observer and is located at LeitrimObserver.ie
17-Nov-09 by LeitrimObserver.ie