Duffry's delight in tight affair
Brace of Frayne goals earn narrow win over Cloughbawn
Robert Frayne's brace of majors, one in either half, proved crucial as Duffry Rovers claimed the Joyces Expert Intermediate 'A' football championship title in St. Patrick's Park on Friday.
Duffry Rovers 2-7 Cloughbawn 1-9
The Coolree men were forced to withstand a Cloughbawn onslaught in the final quarter. Balls rained down on top of their full-back line but they were up to the task, clinging to a fantastic victory by the narrowest of margins.
It was a hard-earned but well-deserved success for the victors. They were the more structured side, with the sharper running lines and the crisper passing. Scores were hard to come by on the tight pitch but Frayne netted from two superb team moves.
The loss will be really tough for Cloughbawn to take, their third final defeat in just seven days. It's impossible to judge how much the Senior hurling final, five days earlier, took out of the Castleboro crew. While there were stoppages for cramp, they were actually the stronger side in the final 15 minutes.
They also threatened in the opening minute. Robert Kinsella's cloud-toucher, falling sharply out of the night sky, was just the type of ball goalkeepers don't want to deal with right away. Bobby Larkin, under intense pressure, did superbly to beat it away.
Frayne, who put in an all-around sterling performance, was involved in the opening score that Aidan Byrne popped over in the second minute. Cloughbawn levelled moments later when Kinsella claimed a defensive spill, fed Barry Carton and the corner-forward floated over the bar.
Paul Nolan and Eamonn Doyle, both influential performers all evening, were involved in the build-up that saw Johnny Flynn-O'Connor burst away on the left before tapping over for 0-2 to 0-1 in the sixth minute.
However, Cloughbawn were first to hit the net. Connal Flood found Bob Whitty with a fantastic through ball, with the elusive centre-forward bursting into a pocket of space and dispatching a classy finish low to Larkin's net.
Cloughbawn, who had a let-off when Stephen Watchorn hit the post from Robert Frayne's pass, went 1-2 to 0-2 ahead right at the end of the opening quarter after a fantastic team move ended with Barry Carton kicking his second point.
Craig Casey started the move that would end in Rovers drawing level in the 17th minute. Johnny Flynn-O'Connor, unsurprisingly, was also involved, feeding Donie O'Connor. He drew the last defender and off-loaded to Frayne at the perfect moment for the goalscorer to flash past Lee Keeley.
Martin Kehoe kicked Cloughbawn back ahead a minute later from a Kinsella lay-off, but the game soon slipped into a sloppy spell. It was broken by Frayne's point from Gavin Watchorn's pass in the 27th minute, a score that set off a frantic end to the opening period.
When Eamonn Doyle was dragged down by Cillian Doyle, the perpetrator was black carded. It was a blow for Cloughbawn, and they fell behind in stoppage time when Aidan Byrne notched his second point.
The only converted dead ball of the evening, a Bob Whitty strike after Colm Kehoe was fouled bursting away from the Duffry defence in the third minute of added time, ensured the sides went in at the interval deadlocked (1-4 each).
One of the big moments came and went inside a minute of the re-start. Cloughbawn won a free right in front of the posts, 20 metres out. Whitty, who was excellent otherwise, kicked poorly; it landed short in Larkin's hands and he cleared. It would prove to be a critical miss.
Rovers were the better side in the third quarter. Attacking with Tim Bowler running from deep, committing defenders, they were excellent. They went ahead for the fourth time when Paul Nolan got forward to point, and the Duffry were never caught.
The second goal arrived in the 37th minute. Stephen Watchorn and Matty Flynn-O'Connor were involved, feeding Frayne bursting through, and again the goalscorer flashed across goal, right into the corner of the net, giving Keeley no chance.
Johnny Flynn-O'Connor pointed after brother Matty kept Tim Bowler's free in play in the 42nd minute to make it 2-6 to 1-4. There was always likely to be a fightback and it started when Billy Wickham scored a nice point a minute later.
Martin Kehoe narrowed the deficit to a goal from a Colm Kehoe long ball before Whitty tapped his second point over with eleven minutes remaining.
When Whitty cut the deficit to one with nine minutes to go, the momentum was completely with his side.
The Duffry were getting frustrated by the lack of frees coming their way as the game ticked into the final ten minutes. After Stephen Watchorn seemed to be fouled, they re-cycled the ball to Eamonn Doyle and he kicked a classy point to make it 2-7 to 1-8 with four minutes remaining.
James Codd made a great block from a Martin Kehoe shot in the 58th minute. Then, just as the 60 came to an end, Cloughbawn had an even better chance. Kehoe again went long and the ball broke to Whitty, but his shot was saved by the feet of the excellent Larkin.
Aidan Byrne received his marching orders for his second yellow card. Backs to the wall, with 14 players, the Duffry conceded when Kehoe kicked a score with the outside of his right boot four minutes into added time.
However, the full-time whistle went while Bobby Larkin's kick-out was in the air, sending the Duffry into wild celebrations. There wasn't long to bask in the glory of a county title as the Coolree side were back in action in Leinster less than two days later (see opposite).
Duffry Rovers: Bobby Larkin; Conor Jordan, Feargal Kenny, James Codd; Thomas Dunne, Paul Nolan (0-1), Craig Casey; Eamonn Doyle (0-1), Donie O'Connor; Aidan Byrne (0-2), Johnny Flynn-O'Connor (0-2), Gavin Watchorn; Robert Frayne (2-1), Stephen Watchorn (capt.), Tim Bowler. Subs. - Matty Flynn-O'Connor for G. Watchorn (31), Alan O'Neill for D. O'Connor (49), John McCarthy for S. Watchorn (60+2), also James Nolan, Jim O'Neill, Joe Coleman, Liam Pender, Michael Doyle, Micheál Doyle, Glen Rafter, Gavin Rafter, Loughlin Rafter.
Cloughbawn: Lee Keeley; Gavin Murphy, David Doyle-Murphy, Cillian Doyle; Harry Kehoe, Barry Kehoe, Connal Flood; Colm Kehoe (capt., 0-1), Páidí Cullen; Billy Wickham (0-1), Bob Whitty (1-3, 0-1 free), Robert Kinsella; Martin Kehoe (0-2), Paul Foley, Barry Carton (0-2). Subs. - Alan Carton for C. Doyle, black card (28), William Murphy for Foley (36), Joey Lawlor for G. Murphy (60), also Billy Dunne, Niall Doran, Shane Greene, Martin Connick, David Cassidy, Dean Murphy, Cathal Spratt, Cian O'Connor, Aaron Byrne, Thomas Foley, Colin Doyle, Luke Cummins, Garrett Murphy, Johnny Cullen, Michael Kavanagh.
Referee: John DIskin (Bannow-Ballymitty).