Goals at crucial stages of a tight contest gave Ballymahon Vocational School U-14 footballers the edge in their narrow win over Dublin opponents Chanel College, Coolock in the Leinster Juvenile ‘D’ Championship Final at the Kinnegad grounds on Friday last.
Coached by James Galvin from the Castledaly club in Co Westmeath and assisted by Cashel player Conan Casey, the well drilled Ballymahon VS team showed a lot of character in overcoming the considerable handicap of losing their centre-half-back Conor Dillon who was forced to retire injured in the early stages of this entertaining encounter.
A well struck goal from Justin McCormack in the 5th minute, following a fine move that also involved Thomas McGann and Shane McGoey, was a timely boost for Ballymahon VS who ended up leading by 1-3 to 0-3 at the break with midfielder Michael Cahill (son of former County Board Chairman Pat Cahill) firing over a couple of cracking points in quick succession
The other midfielder John Tumelty was also on target for the eventual winners who had to survive a few anxious moments in the first half and the defence played particularly well to keep their net intact with competent goalkeeper Jack Fox (grandson of Longford GAA President Jimmy Fox) producing a great save to keep out a powerful shot from dangerous Chanel College forward Shane Murphy in the 22nd minute.
Murphy slotted the ball over the bar to give the Coolock school the lead in the opening minute of the game and further points from Mark Heron and Robert Kelly in the closing stages of the first half kept them in contention.
Chanel College went on to enjoy a great start to the second half that yielded three points in a row through Shane Murphy and Thomas Davis (2) to leave the sides all square but the Dublin outfit then wasted a glorious chance to hit the front when Stephen Pyne shot wide when a goal was there for the taking in the 37th minute.
Soon after another Chanel College goal attempt was blocked down as Ballymahon VS lived very dangerously indeed and it was completely against the run of play when the Longford school grabbed a decisive second goal in the 42nd minute.
A shot from Shane McGoey was parried by the opposing keeper Lee Croghan into the path of substitute Aaron Kennedy who found the back of the net from close range and a couple of points quickly followed from McGoey (free) and roving corner-back Thomas Lennon to put Ballymahon VS in control.
Now trailing by 2-5 to 0-6, Chanel College refused to give up the fight and following a point from Craig Lynch, it took another fine save from Ballymahon VS keeper Jack Fox to prevent Stephen Pyne from finding the back of the net in the 52nd minute.
However, a goal for Chanel College eventually materialised moments later following a fisted effort from Mark Heron and the gap was now reduced to just the minimum of margins in setting the stage for a tense and exciting finish.
But Ballymahon VS did not panic and came storming back with a couple of points from Thomas McGann (play and free) to regain their grip on the game and a further score apiece were then exchanged between Craig Lynch (Chanel College) and Shane McGoey (free) before the final whistle was blown.
It was a tremendous triumph for Ballymahon VS, who had to work extremely hard for the title win in a fine team effort, and particularly prominent were midfielders John Tumelty and Michael Cahill, forwards Shane McGoey and Thomas McGann, wing back Cian Carberry and goalkeeper Jack Fox.
BALLYMAHON VOCATIONAL SCHOOL: Jack Fox (Ballymahon); Thomas Lennon (Tang, 0-1), Ian Burke (Milltown, Co Westmeath), Conor Flood (Cashel); Shane Farrell (Kenagh), Conor Dillon (Milltown), Cian Carberry (Kenagh); Michael Cahill (Carrickedmond, 0-2), John Tumelty (Tang, 0-1); Justin McCormack (Carrickedmond, 1-0), Shane McGoey (Carrickedmond, 0-2, frees), Thomas McGann (Kenagh, 0-2, one free); Shane Coughlan (Tang), Shane Murphy (Legan), Patrick Hanley (Ardagh).
Subs:- Adam Doherty (Legan) for C Dillon (injured, 5 mins); Aaron Kennedy (Milltown, 1-0) for S Murphy (23 mins).
CHANEL COLLEGE: Lee Croghan; Daniel Geraghty, Conor McKiernan, Ryan Lawlor; Robert Kelly (0-1), Craig Lynch (0-2), Craig Nolan; Mark Heron (1-1), Thomas Davis (0-2, one free); Glen Power, Shane Murphy (0-2), Gavin Dunne; Rhys O’Connor, Stephen Pyne, Cian Byrne.
Subs:- Adam Handbridge for C Byrne; Darren Moore for R O’Connor.
Referee: Seamus Rock (Kinnegad).