Walker grabs Réalt's winner
Published 30/01/2016 | 00:00
The opportunism of Réalt na Mara midfielder Gavin Walker finally brought the long-running saga of the 2015 Gorey District Under-21 football Roinn 1 championship to an end in miserable conditions in Ballygarrett on Saturday.
Réalt na Mara 3-3 Castletown 1-6
The extra-time that nobody among the small crowd wanted was looming large after Castletown recovered from the concession of two goals in the third quarter to draw level with time running out.
However, Walker emerged as the hero in the 59th minute as he was in the right place at the right time when a Shane Quinn delivery broke into his path, and he guided the ball to the net from close range to the delight of the home team's supporters.
Castletown did press hard for another equaliser, but all they could muster was a pointed free from Gavin Stamp before Réalt na Mara copper-fastened victory in the fourth minute of added time when Cormac Moore split the posts.
Neither team had played since winning at the quarter-final stage in November, with the penultimate round ties repeatedly postponed before Craanford and Ballinastragh Gaels eventually conceded walkovers to Réalt na Mara and Castletown respectively.
That ring-rustiness, coupled with the rain and wind, was evident in a first-half of just three scores. A solo point from Castletown midfielder Stephen Maloney after a mere 14 seconds certainly wasn't a taste of things to come as they didn't register again until after the interval.
Réalt na Mara only fared marginally better though, leading by 0-2 to 0-1 at the break thanks to scores from Jack Doyle and Dylan Sweeney in the 20th and 29th minutes. Sweeney had brought the best out of Castletown netminder James Flood on two occasions beforehand, while one half-chance at the other end had been hooked across goal by James Casey.
The loss of targetman Ross Bealin through injury was a blow to Castletown, while Joe Gardiner also took a knock and ended up moving to full-back during the second-half.
Their best forward, Yusuf Frih, brought them level inside two minutes of the re-start, but the concession of two goals in less than three minutes rocked their title hopes.
Jack Doyle palmed Mikey Burke's delivery past James Flood before Réalt na Mara doubled their lead when Eoin Corcoran finished a scramble to the net after his initial fist on Gavin Walker's high ball was smothered (2-2 to 0-2).
Castletown rallied very well though, with Yusuf Frih bringing them right back into contention when his low, left-footed strike entered the corner of the net via Oisín Willoughby's fingertips in the 45th minute.
The momentum shifted as Frih, substitute Liam Condren and Gavin Stamp (free) secured three points to equalise, but there was another goal in Réalt na Mara who will now meet Taghmon-Camross in the county semi-final.
Réalt na Mara: Oisín Willoughby; Gavin Morris, Philip Doyle (capt.), David Doran; Paddy Fleming, Darren Morris, Tom Sinnott; Gavin Walker (1-0), Brian O'Connor; Mikey Burke, Dylan Sweeney (0-1), Cormac Moore (0-1); Eoin Corcoran (1-0), Shane Quinn, Jack Doyle (1-1). Subs. - Cathal Dunbar for Sweeney (45), Darragh Cahill for Burke (53).
Castletown: James Flood; Mark Kennedy, Colin Kennedy, Alan Halvey; Seán Roche, Conor Cleary, Oisín Condren; Stephen Maloney (0-1), Joe Gardiner; Gavin Stamp (capt., 0-2 frees), Yusuf Frih (1-2), Cian Byrne; James Casey, Ross Bealin, Ryan Murphy. Subs. - Robbie Brooks for Bealin, inj. (21), Liam Condren (0-1) for Casey (HT), Shane Halpin for M. Kennedy, inj. (37), Andrew Byrne for C. Byrne (47).
Referee: David Owens (Kilrush).