Réalt retain Under-21 title
Goals too much for 'Ford
Goal-hungry Réalt na Mara scythed through Craanford continuously and effectively to wrap up the Gorey District Under-21 football Roinn 1 championship crown at Páirc Uí Shíocháin on Saturday.
Realt na Mara 5-6 Craanford 1-11
The boys from Ballygarrett were clinical in goal-scoring positions and their propensity to work their way in for majors was really the difference in a game that was, territorially at least, fairly evenly contested.
There was bound to be a time that the late heroics of the Craanford club wouldn't arrive. They've consistently pulled results out of the fire in recent weeks, whatever the age or grade, but this task proved a little too tough even for the Houdini men from the 'Ford.
They started this tie with Jim Redmond notching a point off the inside of the right upright.
However, the first sign of defensive frailty was there for all to see in the third minute when Brian O'Connor cut in and fed Cormac Moore-Kavanagh who found the net.
Less than a minute later it was 2-0 to 0-1. This time Cathal Dunbar played the provider role on the left, slipping a simple ball off to Tom Sinnott, and the wing-back broke into the clear and rattled the net.
John Fleming kicked a couple of nice points, and James Smyth added one too, as Craanford settled. However, they were indebted to goalkeeper Thomas Furlong minutes later when he saved a point-blank shot from Dylan Sweeney.
Points from Moore-Kavanagh and O'Connor increased the lead to 2-2 to 0-4, only for Furlong to be called into action to deny Eoin Corcoran a goal in the 19th minute.
Craanford added three Fleming frees late in the half but Réalt na Mara inflicted killer damage in between a Moore-Kavanagh brace.
It was all too easy for Corcoran as he raced away, cutting in from the right channel untouched before planting his side's third goal past Furlong. It left Réalt na Mara six points ahead at the change-around (3-4 to 0-7).
If ending the half conceding a goal wasn't bad enough, starting the second by letting in a fourth was painful for Craanford. Substitute goalkeeper Andrew Tighe was on the field less than two minutes when he was picking out O'Connor's major after great play by Dunbar.
Still, the Ballygarrett side failed to score again until the 52nd minute and Craanford rallied, especially after the dangerous Dunbar went off with what looked to be a hamstring injury.
Fleming kicked two frees before Tony Kavanagh set up Jim Redmond to beat a goalkeeper, in Ciarán Gigi, who was otherwise having a fine game.
A Ger Lyons point narrowed the gap to three (4-4 to 1-10). Craanford then had a Jamie Doyle goal ruled out for a square-ball. Réalt na Mara similarly had one in the first-half and both would fall into the questionable bracket.
An exchange of frees by Moore-Kavanagh and Fleming still left three between the sides heading into added-time.
Réalt made the game safe in the 61st minute when Evan Dunbar fed Jordan Redmond, and the substitute's first shot was blocked but he followed up to net.
Moore-Kavanagh rounded out a strong personal haul of 1-5 with a free a minute later as Réalt na Mara ended with a slightly peculiar full-time scoreline to retain their title.
With the other Districts yet to even start their Under-21 competitions, the victors will be waiting a while for their county semi-final opponents.
Réalt na Mara: Ciarán Gigi; David Doran, Philip Doyle, Darragh Cahill; Tom Sinnott (1-0), Darren Morris, Paddy Fleming; Gavin Walker (capt.), Cathal Dunbar; Brian O'Connor (1-1), Shane Quinn, Cormac Moore-Kavanagh (1-5, 0-5 frees); Eoin Corcoran (1-0), Dylan Sweeney, Jack Doyle. Subs. - Gavin Morris for Dunbar, inj. (38), Mikey Burke for Doyle (49), Jordan Redmond (1-0) for Sweeney (53), Evan Dunbar for Quinn (57), also Oisín Willoughby, Billy Conroy, Oisín Dunbar, Conor Dowling, Tom Higgins, Andrew Redmond.
Craanford: Thomas Furlong; Seán Byrne, Jack Kenny, Pat Lancaster; Pat Kenny, William Conroy, Tony Kavanagh; Ollie Doran (capt.), Martin Doyle; Jim Redmond (1-1), John Fleming (0-8, 6 frees), James Smyth (0-1); Cian O'Toole, Ger Lyons (0-1), Pádraig Redmond. Subs. - Andrew Tighe for Furlong (31), Jamie Doyle for P. Redmond (39), also Martin Kenny, Hugh Kenny, Jim Kenny, Danny Doyle, Seán Lyons.
Referee: Paul Browne (Clonee).