Late burst is key as Bannow-Ballymitty win Division 3 title
Under-age football is full of twists and turns, unexpected shifts in dominance and score-laden purple patches.
Bannow-B'mitty 5-5 Cloughbawn 3-4
And that was certainly the case in St. Patrick's Park, Enniscorthy, on Wednesday when Bannow-Ballymitty came good in the last four minutes to power their way to the Féile Peil na nOg Comoradh na Cásca Division 3 13-a-side crown.
The south county side had displayed the better form in the first of the 20-minute halves and fully deserved an interval lead of 2-1 to 0-1.
However, opponents Cloughbawn came thundering back on the re-start and raced into a 3-4 to 2-3 advantage, with midfielders Shane Kehoe and top scorer Paddy Whitty driving them on.
The undoubted turning point arrived with just under five minutes left when Kehoe was the second member of his team to be sin-binned for a challenge which resulted in a pointed free by Bannow-Ballymitty's John Crosbie.
The red and blacks still trailed by a goal at that stage, but their predicament didn't last long. Indeed, they struck for another 2-1 without reply before the finish to claim a hard-earned victory, with two cracking goals from Cathal Cummins and John Harpur eventually killing off the brave Cloughbawn challenge.
Cummins soloed through the opposition rearguard before crashing home the equaliser, and all of the momentum was with Bannow-Ballymitty at that stage.
A dipping shot by Lorcan Breen struck the crossbar and went over for the lead point, and the clinching goals were just around the corner.
Breen came within inches of raising the green flag himself before the impressive Cummins grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck with another fine individual finish.
And just to make sure there was no way back for Cloughbawn, Cummins' midfield partner, John Harpur, added his own second goal nearly 90 seconds into injury time to leave Bannow-Ballymitty worthy winners, even if the seven-point gap was a little flattering.
The victors had been quicker in finding their feet, taking the lead when Cathal Cummins pointed a free after 47 seconds before Harpur added a goal with a low, left-footed shot in the fifth minute.
Cloughbawn free-taker Paddy Whitty got them off the mark but it was their sole score of the opening half. And though Dylan Scott was off target with a goalscoring chance for the red and blacks, Lorcan Breen ensured they led by 2-1 to 0-1 at the break after finishing a Cathal Cummins delivery which broke into his path in the 16th minute.
The scores may have been scarce up to that stage, but it was a different story on the re-start. Cloughbawn got the early boost they needed when Darragh Redmond goaled after 90 seconds, and Paddy Whitty heaped further pressure on the leaders with points from a free and from play (2-1 to 1-3).
John Harpur and Josh White came close to goaling at the other end before Lorcan Breen converted a free, with Whitty cancelling that out before a Darragh Redmond shot was nearly turned into the net by Oran Clare.
The sin-binning of Cloughbawn's Ryan Murphy was followed by another pointed free from Breen to make it 2-3 to 1-4, but two goals then turned the tie in favour of the Enniscorthy District lads.
Team captain Daniel Murphy directed the rebound to the net when Oran Clare's low shot came back off the post, before a quick free from Shane Kehoe set up midfield partner Paddy Whitty to make it 3-4 to 2-3.
Given the way the game had developed, it was no real surprise that there was another twist. Bannow-Ballymitty pounced at the ideal time to leave no chance of another Cloughbawn recovery, with that unanswered 3-2 clinching the crown.
Bannow-Ballymitty: Darren Cadogan; Michael Harpur, Dean O'Neill; Michael Gaynor, John Crosbie (0-1 free), Chris Keating (capt.); Cathal Cummins (2-1, 0-1 free), John Harpur (2-0); Dylan Scott, Josh White, Eoin O'Connor; Cillian Cullen, Lorcan Breen (1-3, 0-2 frees). Subs. - Eoin Roche for Cullen (8), Seán Fleming for Gaynor, inj. (32), also Michael Waters, Lee Kennedy, Alex Power, Dylan Murphy, Evan Sinnott, Joe Devlin.
Cloughbawn: Cathal Doyle; Darragh Kehoe, Ryan Murphy; Gary Kennedy, Ciarán Murphy, Aaron McManus; Shane Kehoe, Paddy Whitty (1-4, 0-3 frees); Nathan McDonald, Darragh Redmond (1-0), Cormac Cooper; Daniel Murphy (capt., 1-0), Oran Clare. Subs. - Ben Keely for Cooper (HT), also Mikie Fleming, Eoin Murphy, Paul Byrne, Eamon Byrne, Neil Foley, Joseph Walkden.
Referee: Seán Slaven (Faythe Harriers).