Champions Nire hard pressed to retain title

This was no ordinary run of the mill under eighteen decider and it came mighty close to producing what would have been hailed as the shock of the season.  photo: Michael Kiely

This was no ordinary run of the mill under eighteen decider and it came mighty close to producing what would have been hailed as the shock of the season. photo: Michael Kiely

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Nire . . . 2-9; Roanmore . . . 0-12

Uneasy lies the head which wears the crown or so it seemed at Walsh Park on Saturday afternoon last where reigning champions Nire found themselves exceedingly hard pressed to hold on their Minor (A) County Football Championship title won for a historic first time ever last year, as they narrowly survived a titanic challenge from Roanmore, and on a final winning score line of 2-9 to 0-12. This was no ordinary run of the mill under eighteen decider and it came mighty close to producing what would have been hailed as the shock of the season. Un-fancied even in their own immediate circles before hand, Roanmore choose the occasion to tear the form book to shreds, and had they denoted the same degree of confidence in the opening half as they did after the break, they could very well have brought this coveted under age title back to the Eastern end of the county for the first time since Butlerstown-Ballyduff won out in 1999.

Conditions were nigh perfect for a game which certainly went a long way towards restoring some level of pride in under age football in the county – it was free flowing end to end football for most of the hour with the winners two goals coming at crucial times, when it certainly looked that a huge upset could be in the offing. But credit Roanmore, who having taken due cognisance of the manner by which their opponents had brushed aside all opposition in the Western end of the county with consummate ease this year, had clearly done their home work, and never allowing the champions to settle, remained firmly in contention from beginning to end.

Good start

The challengers in fact got themselves off to the best possible of starts, with a brace of well taken points during the opening three minutes – Garry Fitzgerald lofting over the ‘opener’ in the 2nd minute and Dylan Murphy rifling over his first of five match points from free, less than sixty second later. Such was the extent of the early challengers pressure, that seven minutes had elapsed before the champions succeeded in mounting their first meaningful attack, arising from which the outstanding Darren Guiry succeeded in opening their account.

As the game settled down, defences for the most part enjoyed the upper-hand and even points were not easy to come by. The ever dangerous and skilful Keith Guiry got the Nire on level terms for the first time in the 12th minute, but in no way over-awed by the task on their hands, Roanmore and Mark Phelan regained their earlier lead on the stroke of the quarter hour, and it was consolidated four minutes later, when central defender Seamus Byrne converted a ‘45′ in fine style.

While the city lads continued to live dangerously for a six minute spell, they just managed to increase their precarious lead with a weltaken Daniel Phelan 27th minute point, following which Nire struck a purple patch, during which points from David Nugent, David Fitzgerald brought about parity for the third time on the half hour mark, and there was still time for the Champions to take the lead for the very first time in the 31st minute when a dazzling run out of defence by Eamonn Cooney set up Darren Guiry to establish a 0-6 to 0-5 unflattering half time lead.

Telling goals

An early exchange of points from placed positions involving Darren Guiry and Dylan Murphy set the scence for a cracking second half. However, in the 35th minute Nire had a lucky break when a defensive blunder saw an attempted clearance fall in the path of David Fitzgerald who easily rounded two markers for the winners first goal. To their credit Roanmore came back well and further points from Dylan Murphy and Daniel Phelan kept them very much in touch by the 39th minute. Four minutes later came the winners second and most decisive goal of the match as J. P. Fitzpatrick created the opening for Keith Guiry to finish past Keith Finn in the Roanmore goal. Any notion that the Challengers might completely capitulate after this unexpected turn of events was swiftly dispelled as further white flags from Dylan Murphy, and Brian Nolan left just three points between the sides with eight minutes remaining in what can only be considered a hectic finish in which the Nire defence was tested to the limit. This game might readily have gone either way – the Champions had excellent insurance points from J. P Fitzgerald in the 59th minute, yet from there to the last blast of the whistle Roanmore were permanently encamped in the Nire end of the field but had to be content with just another point from Shane Nolan in the 60th minute.

Final score again: The Nire 2-9 Roanmore 0-12.

Excelled

For the winners very much relieved to salute the final whistle such as Darren and Keith Guiry, Paudie Cooney, Thomas Walsh, James McGrath, and Graham Guiry played leading roles in fashioning victory. While for the vanquished such as Darragh Brennan, Michael Merrigan, Seamus Byrne, Daniel Phelan, Shane and Brian Nolan, Dylan Murphy, and Mark Phelan excelled.

 

Scorers

Nire: Keith Guiry and David Ftizgerald 1-1 each; Darren Guiry 0-4; Graham Guiry, David Nugent, J. P. Fitzgerald 0-1 each.

Roanmore: Dylan Murphy 0-5; Daniel Phelan 0-2; Gary Fitzgerald, Mark Phelan, Seamus Byrne, Brian and Shane Nolan 0-1 each.

Teams

Nire: Patrick Horkan, Brian Whelan, Thomas Walsh, Aidan Condon, Eamonn Cooney, Alan McGrath, Paudie Cooney, James McGrath, Graham Guiry, Darren Guiry, J. P. Fitzgerald, David Fitzgerald, Keith Guiry, David Nugent, Damien O’Donnell, Subs: Jamie Barron for J. P. Fitzgerald, Pat Meehan for A, Condon.

Roanmore: Keith Finn, David McGrath, Darragh Brennan, Michael Merrigan, Stephen Vereker, Seamus Byrne, Tim O’Byrne, Daniel Phelan, Niall Coady, Shane Nolan, Damien Thomas, Brian Nolan, Dylan Murphy, Gary Fitzgerald, Mark Phelan. Subs : Derek March for N. Coady.

Referee: John Condon (Rinn o gCuanach).

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