Thursday, December 06, 2012

Monasterevan 0-4

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O'Connells 0-3

AN injury-time free-kick by Wayne Fitzpatrick ensured the greatest day in the history of Monasterevan after they clinched a Leinster intermediate title.

Monasterevan celebrate after being crowned Leinster club IFC champions at Drogheda on Sunday

In a low scoring but nerve wracking game it looked like Monasterevan would pay for some wasteful finishing in the first half. There was just a solitary score on the board at half-time and although Monasterevan led then, they trailed by 0-3 to 0-1 with just eight minutes to play. Manager Paschal Kellaghan has instilled a tremendous spirit into this team during his short tenure with the club and it really came to the fore in those final eight minutes.

Having dominated the first half but failed to show it on the scoreboard, momentum shifted away from Monasterevan in the second half when O’Connells scored three points in the first 15 minutes but adversity brought the best from the Barrowside Blues. They moved up a gear and as their Louth counterparts wilted on home turf, Monasterevan got stronger. A wayward kickout by O’Connells goalkeeper Stuart Reynolds went straight over the sideline and from there he was ruthlessly punished. It was a feature of the game how quickly Monasterevan tried to get the ball back into play from dead balls and it was something Eoin Stapleton did on numerous occasions.

This time it was Shane O’Loughlin who reacted quickest. As the O’Connells defence switched off, O’Loughlin found Anthony Kavanagh and the centre-forward hit the target despite kicking under pressure. Suddenly belief, a word that Kelleghan has used time and again to describe the biggest thing he has brought to this group, coursed through the veins of the Monasterevan players.

This was their opportunity.

With five minutes to go, the pressure that Monasterevan were exerting forced another free inside the 45 following a failed short kick out by Reynolds. It left Fitzpatrick, who never really found his range from long range frees until the decisive moment, with a tricky kick from near the right touchline. As the bodies jostled for position outside the square waiting for Fitzpatrick to take the free, Lenny Havens made his way unnoticed into a great position 25 metres out. Fitzpatrick was alive to the opportunity and smartly fl icked the ball over to  Havens. Before the O’Connells defence realised what was happening the midfielder had the ball in his hands and sent it over the bar to tie the scores.

You got the feeling Monasterevan weren’t willing to wait until extra-time to settle this game and their cause was given another boost when O’Connells’ star player Mark Stanfield was shown a second yellow card for arguing with the referee. Monasterevan still needed a hero and they found one in the youngest player on the team. Before Fitzpatrick applied the finishing touches, hard work had to be done out the field. Mark Cornish made an important tackle to stop an O’Connells move developing before moving the ball into Kavanagh. The powerful centre-forward had made hard yards for Monasterevan all game and did so again but as he was striking his pass he was hit with a late tackle. That resulted in a free where the ball landed and Fitzpatrick, in just his sixth senior game, sent the ball soaring over the bar from 40 metres.

Monasterevan still had to survive a late scare when Paul McKeever missed the target from a very kickable free four minutes into injury time but moments later the final whistle blew to signify that Monasterevan had followed it the footsteps of Confey (2006), Maynooth (2009) and Ballymore (2010) by lifting this Leinster title. On the day it was the team ethic that got Monasterevan over the line. After leading Ballinabrackey of Meath to a title in 2010, this was Paschal Kellaghan’s second Leinster crown in three years – an incredible achievement.

The Rhode man has worked wonders on the banks of the Barrow this year but as he said afterwards it’s not about him – it’s about a club and a town who came out in their droves to  support. Now they can call themselves Leinster champions.

MONASTEREVAN: Colin McCabe; Tristan Kennedy, John Dempsey, David Maher; Paul Kelly, Mark Cornish, James Gorry; Lenny Havens 0-1, Christy Dempsey; Shane O’Loughlin, Anthony Kavanagh 0-1, Eoin Stapleton; Wayne Fitzpatrick 0-2 (1f), Mark Kelly, Gary Kelly. Subs: Cormac Brady for G Kelly, 51; Gavin Holligan for M Kelly, 57.

O’CONNELLS: Stuart Reynolds; Andrew Shields, Conor Byrne, Jason Carroll; Salem Rifaie 0-1, Jackie Agnew, Killian Shields; Dean Stanfield, Mark Stanfield; Andrew Sharkey, Sean Cairns, John Flanaghan; Robert Quigley, Paul McKeever 0-2fs, Cian Doyle. Subs: David Doyle for D Stanfield, h/t; Stephen Hoey for K Shields, h/t.

REF: Fergal Kelly (Longford)

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By Ger McNally
Contact Newsdesk: 045 432147
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