Lady luck deserts Kilanerin
Michael Glavey's 0-13 Kilanerin 0-11
There was heartbreak for Kilanerin in St. Loman's, Mullingar, on Saturday as they came up just short in their bid to reach the AIB All-Ireland Club Intermediate football championship final.
The Leinster champions can look back on this run with pride after a great season with the big ball, but naturally memories will be tinged with disappointment as this game was there for the taking.
The difference? Scores just seemed to come a tad easier for Michael Glavey's but in truth there was very little between these sides.
If anything Kilanerin shaded the territorial battle. They played well as a unit but when things are this tight getting the rub of the green is a big thing. Pat Forde's side just didn't get the bounces, and a few 50-50 calls went against them - it just wasn't their day.
There was one big moment that summed things up. With 43 minutes on the clock, the scores level and Kilanerin in the ascendancy, Niall Hughes played a delightful through-ball to fresh substitute Bobby Hughes.
Away sauntered Hughes, bearing down on Glavey's goalkeeper Darren O'Malley. Clearcut major chances were few and far between throughout but this was one. The tall attacker couldn't have connected any better but the ball rose just enough to rock the crossbar and rebound to safety.
The Roscommon side, jolted into life by the let-off, scored three points in a little over two minutes and left Kilanerin with a mountain that they just couldn't climb. If the ball was an inch lower and went in off the woodwork, would the result have been different; who knows?
Playing with a crosswind that was helping slightly, Kilanerin got off to a solid start. No doubt the loss of Denis Jones was felt but the reshuffle looked to do the trick defensively and Conor Devitt was extremely sharp in attack.
However, it was the reliable Matty Forde who opened the scoring, tapping over after accepting a feed from Emmet O'Toole. Forde was at it again in the eightth minute to make it 0-2 to nil, this time linking up well with Devitt for the score.
Glavey's showed what they had in their locker when Andrew Glennon played a one-two with Stephen Comer and tapped over. Still, Kilanerin were playing the better football and when Niall Hughes was dragged down, Emmet O'Toole nailed a tough free.
It was 0-4 to 0-1 when Forde added his third point in the twelfth minute after Devitt was fouled. After O'Toole dropped one short, the Roscommon side broke. Seán Burke fed the tricky Cathal Heneghan and he pointed.
Niall Breen was creator for Emmet O'Toole's stunning left foot effort that made it 0-5 to 0-2 in the 20th minute. However, their opponents sauntered downfield and Heneghan took the safe point when it appeared that there was a goal in the offing.
The decision looked prudent as Conor Hussey's nice score was followed moments later by a Dylan Ruane leveller. A third foul of the half on Devitt allowed Forde to kick his fourth point but Comer responded in kind at the other end.
After Kilanerin missed a few half-decent chances to take a lead in at the interval, they eventually had to settle for parity (0-6 each). With everything to play for, the opening to the second-half was a little nervy.
Conor Hussey scored the opener in the 34th minute but Kilanerin were on top for most of the third quarter. Dean O'Toole punched Niall Hughes' dipping effort into the side-netting while Devitt raced away but smashed his shot agonisingly wide moments later.
Dean O'Toole's 39th-minute point was his side's only score of the quarter - a stunning fact considering the balance of play. Shortly after Bobby Hughes nearly smashed the woodwork into splinters, Glavey's found their feet.
Comer scored a free after Heneghan was felled before Darren O'Malley sauntered up to make it 0-9 to 0-7 with another placed-ball. When Dylan Ruane flashed over the crossbar in the 47th minute, things looked to be getting away from Kilanerin.
To their credit, the Wexford club bounced back. Forde drilled over his fifth minor with twelve minutes left and cut the gap to one when converting a free after Emmet O'Toole was fouled.
A potential dagger to the heart, a Forde-esque line ball by Andrew Glennon from 30 metres out on the right wing, made it 0-11 to 0-9 in the 55th minute.
When O'Malley nailed a '45, after Tiarnan Murphy's stubbed shot was deflected behind, the Roscommon side moved three clear.
Again Kilanerin bounced back, and Hughes sliced over a fine score with the outside of his right boot before Forde pulled his side within one in added-time. With the tempo ramped up, Glavey's moved 0-13 to 0-11 ahead when Tiarnan Murphy pointed from distance.
A fairytale ending? It almost happened in the fourth minute of overtime when Bobby Hughes dumped a ball into the goalmouth, and it broke to Forde, 13 metres from goal. He connected well but it whizzed through the crowded goalmouth and hit a grateful O'Malley in the chest.
With that last chance survived, Michael Glavey's held on to take their spot in the final. In Croke Park on Saturday afternoon they will face Moy Tír na nÓg, winners against An Ghaeltacht.
For Kilanerin, they have a mini-break before they get back into preparations for the Senior county championship in April.
Kilanerin: Tom Hughes; Richard Hughes, Brendan Hobbs, Aidan Jones; Gavin O'Toole, Colm Kavanagh (capt.), Mark Boland; Niall Breen, Niall Hughes (0-1); Peter Hughes, Dean O'Toole (0-1), Mark Gethings; Emmet O'Toole (0-2, 1 free), Conor Devitt, Matty Forde (0-7, 4 frees). Subs. - Rhys Owley for Kavanagh (31), Tommy Boland for M. Boland (39), Bobby Hughes for P. Hughes (39), Jim Hughes for Gethings (56), Gearóid O Súilleabháin for T. Boland (60), also Eoin Lucey, Lee Owley, Colin Breen, Cathal O'Reilly, Denis Jones.
Michael Glavery's: Darren O'Malley (0-2, 1 free, 1 '45); Neil Morris, Shane O'Malley, Liam Cregg; Gary Patterson, Tom Murphy, David Frayne; Caoileann Fitzmaurice, John Finan; Conor Hussey (capt., 0-2), Stephen Comer (0-2 frees), Dylan Ruane (0-2); Seán Burke, Andrew Glennon (0-2, 1 line ball), Cathal Heneghan (0-2). Subs. - Tiarnan Murphy (0-1) for Burke (46), James Brennan for Ruane (54), Cian Ruane for Comer (60+1).
Referee: Paul Faloon (Down).