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Sunday 17 December 2017

Cloughbawn dismiss GOH

Cloughbawn 2-9 Geraldine O'Hanrahans 1-6

Alan Aherne

Connal Flood of Cloughbawn tries to negotiate a route past Barry Kelly and Enda Kelly of GOH
Connal Flood of Cloughbawn tries to negotiate a route past Barry Kelly and Enda Kelly of GOH

Cloughbawn's desire to make up for disappointment in the other code was clear in miserable conditions in St. Patrick's Park, Enniscorthy, on Saturday when they sealed success at the expense of Geraldine O'Hanrahans in this Greenstar Under-21 football Roinn 1 championship semi-final with a freak goal in added time.

The victors had beaten the same opponents in the penultimate round of the hurling competition, only to come up short in the replayed decider when Craanford went on a goal-scoring spree to clinch the title.

That setback has made Cloughbawn even hungrier to go one better in football, and now they are just 60 minutes away from a first-ever county title at this level.

Geraldine O'Hanrahans recovered from a poor start to make a real game of it, with the outcome only confirmed with almost four minutes of added time played.

Cloughbawn led by a goal at that stage but had been under considerable pressure before a line ball on the right gave them some breathing space.

Bob Whitty over-hit his kick to Ross netminder Dean Katus who had advanced to his own 45-metre line to assist his side's final attacking effort.

However, when the number one fumbled the ball in the wet conditions, there was no better man to avail of the slip than Cloughbawn centre-forward Connal Flood.

Having spent part of the League of Ireland season with the Bray Wanderers Under-19 squad, he was the ideal candidate to dribble the ball forward and ultimately slot it into an empty net even though Ross captain Barry Kelly was hot on his heels.

That was the clincher for Cloughbawn who finished the game the exact same way as they started - by scoring a goal. A mere 46 seconds had elapsed when a free from the right wing broke in the square at the dressing-room end, and Kyle Murphy was on hand to blast to the net.

Cloughbawn's big three of Flood, Darragh O'Connor and Bob Whitty (free) followed with points, but the Geraldines improved beyond all measure after Seán Duffy opened their account from a placed ball midway through the half.

Although Whitty responded from a Flood handpass, Cloughbawn didn't score again in the last twelve minutes of the half whereas their rivals pulled back four points.

Michael Cullen hooked one over after a free fell short in the goalmouth, with dead-ball kickers Duffy and Dylan Wickham also on target before Barry Roche converted in the 30th minute after Diarmuid Kehoe's initial effort was blocked (1-4 to 0-5).

The best Cloughbawn could muster in that spell of GOH dominance was a blocked attempt on goal by Darragh O'Connor, but the threat he posed was reduced when Pádraig Bailey moved from full-back to midfield.

Michael Cleere was also faring quite well on Bob Whitty, while Cloughbawn made an important switch too when Gareth Murphy was given the task of trying to curb the aerial threat posed by big Danielius Niekis on the edge of the square.

The town team struck three of their nine wides in all (Cloughbawn had five) on the re-start before Barry Roche made it a one-point game from a Diarmuid Kehoe lay-off in the 37th minute.

Bob Whitty responded with a Cloughbawn treble, with the middle effort from play after Darragh O'Connor won a GOH kick-out.

However, the Barrowsiders ensured the final quarter would be very interesting when Enda Kelly drove a free in from the left flank and Danielius Niekis got a vital touch with his hand to direct it into Cian O'Connor's net (1-7 to 1-6).

Cloughbawn needed a strong response and they got it in the form of points from Colin Murphy and Connal Flood in a fruitful spell lasting just over two minutes.

The Geraldines pressed again, with Diarmuid Kehoe unfortunate not to get at least one score from three separate chances before they lost wing-back Jack Foran to a second yellow card at the start of added time.

Bob Whitty missed a free prior to Seán Duffy dropping one in at the other end, only for a square ball call to relieve the pressure on Cloughbawn before Flood's clinching breakaway goal.

Cloughbawn: Cian O'Connor; Daniel Dempsey, Jack Wickham, Stephen Casserly; Shane Greene, James Dempsey, Gareth Murphy; Darragh O'Connor (0-1), Robert Kinsella; Kyle Murphy (1-0), Connal Flood (1-2), Billy Wickham; Fergus Rooney, Colin Murphy (0-1), Bob Whitty (0-5, 3 frees). Subs. - Shane Flood for Rooney, inj. (9), Davy Casserly for B. Wickham (28).

Geraldine O'Hanrahans: Dean Katus; Michael Cleere, Pádraig Bailey, Gerry Cash; Jack Foran, Barry Kelly (capt.), Enda Kelly; Michael Cullen (0-1), Diarmuid Kehoe; Ben Walsh, Seán Duffy (0-2 frees), Dylan Wickham (0-1 free); Jack Power, Danielius Niekis (1-0), Barry Roche (0-2). Subs. - Jake Byrne for Power (21), Brandon Gardiner for Wickham (51).

Referee: James Flood (St. Mary's, Maudlintown).

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