Double delight in tight finish
Bunclody boys beat Ferns
Bunclody made it a double delight when they took both the boys' and girls' county titles home in last week's Allianz Cumann na mBunscol Rackard League football finals.
Bunclody 4-7 Ferns 3-6
This time it was an ambitious Ferns team aiming to spoil the Bunclody party in St. Patrick's Park on Wednesday, and these near neighbours served up an enthralling match worthy of any final.
The first-half was a curious affair. Try as they might, both teams found it hard to get on the scoreboard despite both playing some great football.
The fast and furious Ferns team scurried all over field in search of an opening, while their Bunclody counterparts showed some exceptional ball-playing skills as each team aimed to better their opponent.
There were only three scores from play in this intense half. A Bunclody corner-forward squeezed over the game's first point from a narrow angle, while James Murray and Jason Ogwueleka got two good scores for Ferns and the rest came from frees.
At three points apiece at half-time, it looked like this game was going to be a low-scoring affair even though it was keenly contested and high in entertainment value.
The second-half saw the game spectacularly open up in a manner that few would have predicted. As legs warmed up and the adrenalin kicked in, both teams flew at each other at a frantic pace.
Ferns needed their talented 'keeper, Hugh Finnegan, to push a strong Ciarán Whiting shot over the bar early in play. The scorer then turned into provider when he set up Oisín O'Leary for the game's first goal.
Ferns reacted brilliantly and rattled the crossbar just before full-forward Jason Ogwueleka artistically palmed a loose ball into the net. Seconds later, it was Ferns in the lead when Matthew Kelly scored a goal.
Big finals need big players who create big moments, and this is where Bunclody midfielder Darragh Farrell stepped in. He scored what must be the Rackard League goal of the season straight from his team's kick-out.
First, he took the ball down from the clouds and the smoke with a huge catch. Then he soloed and slalomed past the entire Ferns team before finally burying the ball in the top corner of the net with his left boot. This put Bunclody a point ahead.
Not to be outdone, Ferns got a third goal through James Murray minutes later to the delight of the watching crowd. The drama was far from over.
Bunclody put over another Darragh Farrell free just before Oisín O'Leary scored his second goal of the final. Yet again, Ferns stubbornly rose to the challenge and went on the level the game with five minutes to go thanks to James Murray and Max Meegan points.
In the game's final moments, Bunclody finished very strongly and just about managed to pull away. Darragh Farrell scored two more points while running up and down the field with great energy.
Ciarán Whiting went hell for leather for a goal and, despite being blocked down at point-blank range, went on to pounce again seconds later and score a goal that he fully deserved.
Ferns could just manage a James Murray '45 in these final minutes and that proved to be the difference that separated the teams.
This was a final where both teams went toe-for-toe with each other at full pelt for an hour, and it was a shame that only one team could take the prize. But Bunclody fully earned the final plaudits after recovering the lead four times during this exciting match on an historic night for the school.
Bunclody: Robert Black, Michael Doyle, Rory Raleigh, Andy Moorehouse, Thomas Cowman, Conor Burke, Aaron Dunne, Darragh Farrell, Desmond O'Connor, Tadhg Byrne, Sam Black, Jimmy Connors, Oisín O'Leary, Ciarán Whiting, Matthew Skelly, Hugh Byrne, Aaron Whiting, Luke Boxwell, Sam Lonergan, Niall Furlong, T.J. Kelly.
Ferns: Hugh Finnegan, Seán Gahan, Charlie O'Hara, Craig Dreelan, Max Meegan, Stephen O'Toole, Darragh Breen, James Murray, Liam Byrne, Niall Logan, James Kinsella, Cormac Kinsella, Danny Dreelan, James Ogwueleka, Matthew Kelly, Luke Kinsella, Thomas Dunne, Jacob McCormack, Jerry Sheridan, Ryan Hayes, Charlie Murphy, Bryan Kearns, Oran Hayden, Jack Burke, Lee Doyle, Jack Brennan.