Gorey have little bit extra
Ballinastragh Gaels pushed neighbours all the way
Naomh Eanna scored 2-1 in the second-half of extra-time to edge into the New Ross Standard Coiste na nOg Under-14 football Division 1 championship final at the expense of a gallant Ballinastragh Gaels side in Craanford on Thursday.
Naomh Eanna 5-5 B'stragh GLS 3-4 (AET)
In what was a topsy-turvy game, both teams had their periods of dominance, yet the Gorey town side had their second purple patch just at the right time to edge into the title decider.
There was very little between the sides and in many ways they were similar. Both are well-drilled units who have clearly been putting plenty of hours in on the training field.
Despite slick conditions, the handling was very good, the passing excellent and some of the attacking moves were superb.
Naomh Eanna owned the first eleven minutes as they went 2-2 to nil up, and it could have been more. In between Calem Crean and Seán O'Brien-Murphy points, hat-trick hero Barry Levingston notched his first two goals.
The first was a fisted finish from O'Brien-Murphy's looping ball, with the second a drilled shot to the roof of Garbhan Finn's net.
Gaels stopper Finn made two stunning saves to keep his side in the game before Caleb Murphy pulled a point back for the Kilanerin/Tara Rocks combo.
With Gorey down to 13 for a while due to sin-binnings, they lost momentum and Ballinastragh started the fightback.
Murphy grabbed his side's first goal before the excellent Conor Hughes added 1-1 to give them their first lead.
Another free from the midfielder-cum-forward made it 2-4 to 2-2 but two Caelum Travers dead balls in the final three minutes forced the game into extra-time.
Gorey struck the net first through Darragh Levingstone but Ballinastragh replied with Aaron Whelan's well-taken finish two minutes later to tie the game at the change-around (3-4 each).
However, a goal from Darragh Molloy and point from Travers gave Naomh Eanna a four-point lead before Levingston completed his treble to help his club into the final.
There is a 50-50 chance that the Gorey lads could face another local derby in that decider, as Castletown will be taking on Volunteers on the other side of the draw.
Naomh Eanna were wonderful ambassadors for the county in last June when they went all the way to the All-Ireland Féile Peil na nOg Division 1 final before losing to Austin Stacks of Kerry in the Ferns Centre of Excellence.
However, they will face another tough test before capturing the Co. title.
Naomh Eanna: James Doran; Paul Gibson, Cian Kenny, Dylan Molloy; Ryan Connolly, Micheál Kennedy (capt.), Cian Molloy; Calem Crean (0-1), Ryan Keogh; Darragh Levingstone (1-0), Caelum Travers (0-3, 2 frees), Jack Doran; Cian Browne, Barry Levingstone (3-0), Seán O'Brien-Murphy (0-1). Subs. - Cathal Stokes for O'Brien-Murphy, black card (35), Darragh Molloy (1-0) for Stokes (51), Robert Kelly for Gibson (70), also Seánie Quirke, Podge Keegan, Seán Callaghan, Chris O'Brien, Mikie Cushe.
Ballinastragh Gaels: Garbhan Finn; Alex Simpson, Shane Gibson, Fintan Staunton; Chris Montague, Paddy D'Arcy, Ben Morris; Jason Bolger, Conor Hughes (capt., 1-3, 0-3 frees); Cian Hughes, Tom Mordaunt, Conor Kinsella; Robert Murphy, Caleb Murphy (1-1, 0-1 free), Aaron Whelan (1-0). Subs. - Joe Curtis for Kinsella (66), William Higgins for Whelan (68), Michael Fortune for R. Murphy (70), Kyle Whitmore for Montague (70), Jordan Kinch for Cian Hughes (70), also Michael Higgins, J.J. O'Neill, Fionán Stafford, Gavin Murray, Jake Kinsella, Nathan Bolton, Jason Byrne.
Referee: Martin Armstrong (HWH-Bunclody).