Grannagh 4; Piltown 3
The best wine was kept for last on Wednesday of last week. This game brought the curtain down on the domestic season, and what an incredible contest both teams served up.
It was by far the most enjoyable and indeed skilful decider for a long, long time. Apart from some cracking goals, the game produced wonderful passages of play, and the result was in doubt right up to the full-time whistle.
This was the third year in a row that Grannagh appeared in the Sheridan Cup final and it was their second success. Two out of three is pretty good going and now they will try and win promotion to the Premier League next season, a fact made clear by their captain Ivan Tobin when he accepted the cup.
Credit, mind, to Piltown also. Managed by Frankie Ryan they played their part in a smashing game that was a credit to Division 1. Spare a thought also for the Grannagh left full-back Wayne Kelly. He crashed into one of the dug-outs after only 16 minutes of play and was taken to hospital with a serious arm and shoulder injury.
Grannagh took the lead after after 12 minutes. John Kelly played the ball over the top of the Piltown defence and the former Southend United striker Mark Walsh made no mistake from just inside the penalty area.
Piltown fought back manfully and it came as no surprise when they equalised in the 22nd minute. Neil Kelly played the ball out to Leo Cummins, and when he crossed from the left Kevin Keegan controlled the ball before cutting past two defenders and cracking the ball past Grannagh goalkeeper Tomas Wall.
Keegan also brought back memories of his famous namesake on 31 minutes when he turned provider for John Paul Walsh who scored with his first touch despite running with pace at the Grannagh goal.
Grannagh, who lost to Ferrybank in last season’s decider, levelled the game once again six minutes later. Timmy Ryan, their flying left winger, pulled the ball back to Mark Walsh and he scored his second when his shot from the left side of the park appeared to bounce over the outstretched hands of Piltown ‘keeper, Ray Carroll.
Grannagh went back in front again on 57 minutes. John Purcell sent in a long-range shot which was blocked by Kevin Kelly. The ball fell to Mark Walsh but his effort was parried by goalkeeper Ray Carroll. This time the ball broke to Ian Walsh and he was handily placed to slot the ball home from 12 yards.
Piltown were not going to bend the knee and they got back on terms again on 67 minutes. Keegan played the ball wide to Alan Walsh who shot at goal, but when goalkeeper Tomas Wall punched clear, John Duggan took full advantage by finding the net with his left foot.
The large crowd had no idea who would eventually seize the siilverware but they got their answer four minutes from full time. Mark Walsh squared the ball for Ian Walsh and he delightfully scored his second from 20 yards. Piltown battled hard during the remaining minutes but Grannagh held out for victory. What a way to finish the season. Simply superb.
Grannagh: Tomas Wall, Ivan Tobin, Wayne Kelly, Billy Ryan, John Kelly, Ian Walsh, Paddy Dalton, John Purcell, Mark Walsh, Colin Murphy, Timmy Ryan. Subs: Robbie Kelly for Wayne Kelly (16 mins), Karl Conway for Ryan (74).
Piltown: Ray Carroll, Kevin Kelly, Ritchie Connolly, Brendan McCarthy, Bill Quinn, Neil Kelly, James O’Shea, Kevin Keegan, Leo Cummins, Alan Walsh, John Paul Walsh. Subs: Dick Howley for Quinn (45 mins), John Duggan for O’Shea (61), David Corcoran for Neil Kelly (89)
Referee: Andrew Mullally.