A first half goal from Robbie Smyth proved to be the difference as Abbeylara booked their place in the U-21 ‘B’ Football Championship Final with a deserved win over Colmcille/Sean Connolly’s at the Higginstown grounds in Granard on Sunday last.
The semi-final was level at three points apiece when Smyth got the decisive only goal in the 20th minute. Abbeylara then took control of the game and were at one stage in the second half six points ahead but the amalgamated side fought hard to salvage the situation in the closing stages but in the end it was too little, too late.
It was Conor Hawkins who got the first point of the game inside the opening minute before Abbeylara had a chance to grab a goal one minute later but Jason Earley’s drive got a slight deflection out for a ’45.
John McGee got Colmcille/Connolly’s second point in the 3rd minute before two frees from the boot of Jason Kelly levelled the game for Abbey. Fergal Sheridan put the amalgamation ahead again in the 10th minute but in the 19th minute a free from Robbie Smyth left the sides all square again.
One minute later Abbey went ahead for the first time and it was a lead they didn’t relinquish. Mark Smyth’s shot was saved by Vincent Hourican but Robbie Smyth pounced on the loose ball to find the back of the net.
After going 21 minutes without a score Conor Hawkins got Colmcille/Connolly’s fourth point in stoppage time to leave two points in it at the break, 1-3 to 0-4.
Colmcille/Connolly’s started the second half well but were unable to put scores on the board and hit two wides in a row. Abbey went down the other end and substitute Colin Sheridan landed a point in the 34th minute.
Further points from Robbie Smyth (a good effort) and Jason Kelly (free) stretched the lead before Colmcille/Connolly’s replied with a nice score from Conor Hawkins in the 40th minute. Abbeylara responded with excellent points from Sean Berry and Colin Sheridan to put six between the sides in the 45th minute but they failed to register another score.
In the final quarter it was all Colmcille/Connolly’s as they tried hard to get themselves back into the game. In the 50th minute Mark Mulligan hit the post with a powerful shot before two points in quick succession from Shay McKeon cut the deficit to four points.
Another fine point from Conor Hawkins in the 56th minute put a goal between the sides and there was just two in it in the 60th minute when Shay McKeon pointed a free but Abbeylara held out to reach the decider against Ballymahon/Forgney.
ABBEYLARA: Shane Gallagher, Alan Earley, James McHugh, Anthony Reilly, Michael McHugh, David Reilly, Jason Earley, Robbie Smyth (1-2, one free), Gavin Kelly, Jason Kelly (0-3, all frees), Anthony McBrien, Mark Smith, Sean Berry (0-1).
Sub:- Colin Sheridan (0-2) for G Kelly (half-time).
COLMCILLE/SEAN CONNOLLY’S: Vincent Hourican, Cormac Hughes, Leigh McKeon, John McGee (0-1), Ciaran Brady, Gerard Mulligan, Fergal Sheridan (0-1), Martin Mulligan, Conor Hawkins (0-4), Niall Farley, Mark Mulligan, Barry McKeon, Shay McKeon (0-3, one free).
Subs:- Joe Mulligan for G Mulligan (21 mins); Dan Waters for L McKeon (36 mins).
Referee: Ger Carberry (Killoe).
Who will win the U-21 ‘B’ Final?