Kilrush come good as neighbours beaten after extra time
Greenstar U20 Football Roinn 1 Championship: Kilrush 2-15 Craanford 3-8 (AET)
For the second Saturday running, Craanford fought back from a half-time deficit to force extra-time, but on this occasion they came up just short as two late goals secured Kilrush the Greenstar Gorey District Under-20 football Roinn 1 championship title in dramatic circumstances at a chilly Craanford.
The Ballyroebuck-based lads put in an effective display in the first-half on the way to building up an 0-8 to 0-3 advantage by the short whistle, but only scored twice in second-half regulation time as Craanford gradually picked away at their lead.
In fact, when a nice jink from Aidan Kavanagh teed up Aodhán Whitty to fire the locals 2-6 to 0-10 ahead with five minutes remaining, they were on the precipice of victory.
However, Kilrush defender Garrett O'Connor suffered what appeared to be a serious knee injury in the build-up to that point, and the substantial additional time that followed turned out to work in his side's favour.
Seán Kirwan converted a free on 67 minutes, and John Kavanagh kicked the equalising point some two minutes later (0-12 to 2-6).
Still, a penalty from captain Páraic Redmond, his second spot-kick of the day, had Craanford 3-7 to 0-14 ahead at the break in extra-time, but Craanford noticeably tired as the clock ticked towards a conclusion.
And after Stuart Byrne (free) and Jack Nolan exchanged scores, a fatigued challenge led to a Kilrush penalty a minute into injury-time, with Seán Bookey making no mistake when rolling to the corner of the net to make it 1-15 to 3-8 and stun the home support.
Centre-back Peter O'Neill then rubber-stamped the victory when he lobbed to the far corner of the net two minutes later after substitute Colm Hayes robbed possession along the byline.
Redmond had opened the scoring when he was assisted by the hard-trying Whitty, but those two along with free-taker Byrne were Craanford's only scorers in contrast to the eventual victors who had eight different players on the mark.
And they started to flex their muscles somewhat as the excellent Tom Kinsella kicked a lovely point off his right boot, with Bookey and Nolan adding quick points.
In between, Redmond dragged an unexpected goal chance wide of the post, while Kilrush supplied five of the last seven points of the half, including one each from Darragh Kinsella and James Byrne, to create that 0-8 to 0-3 interval advantage.
Craanford had trailed by 2-8 to 1-3 at the same stage in their semi-final win over Réalt na Mara a week earlier, and lightning seemed to be striking twice when Whitty crossed for Byrne to palm to the net on 32 minutes (0-9 to 1-4).
Soon after, Joseph Conroy was impeded in the square when contesting for the loose ball and Redmond emphatically knocked home the resultant penalty to turn the tables by 2-4 to 0-10, but they couldn't quite see it out as instead Kilrush remain on course for a county championship double in this grade.
Kilrush: Conor Kehoe; Pádraig Hayden, Garrett O'Connor, Jim Sharry; Ned O'Neill, Peter O'Neill (1-0), Ciarán Kenny; Seán Bookey (capt., 1-2, 1-0 pen.), John Kavanagh (0-1); Seán Kirwan (0-2 frees), James Byrne (0-1), Jack Nolan (0-3, 1 free); Darragh Kinsella (0-1), Kevin Kenny, Tomás Kinsella (0-5). Subs. - Pádraig O'Rourke for Sharry (HT), Ronan Dillon for O'Connor, inj. (59), Martin Byrne for D. Kinsella (60+1), Colm Hayes for N. O'Neill (68).
Craanford: Paddy Doyle; Jack Keogh, Eoin Doyle, Patrick Kavanagh; Harry Molloy, Jim Kenny, Pat Doyle; Páraic Redmond (capt., 2-2, 2-0 pens.), Joseph Conroy; Stuart Byrne (1-4, 0-4 frees), Eamonn Doran, Luke Byrne; Aodhán Whitty (0-2), Aidan Kavanagh, Pádraig Tobin. Subs. - Ciarán McLaughlin for Tobin (43), Pádraig Tobin for Conroy (74), Conroy for Molloy (78).
Referee: Eddie O'Sullivan (Kilanerin).