While St. Colmcille’s eventually asserted their superiority in the second half to run out comfortable winners in the finish, the underdogs Southern Gaels deserve a lot of credit for producing a very spirited display in a repeat of the 2011 Minor ‘B’ Football Championship Final at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Friday evening last.
Outclassed in last year’s title decider as the Colmcille lads cruised to a most emphatic 3-13 to 1-3 success, it was a a lot more competitive contest on this occasion and at one stage the Cashel/Killashee amalgamation were six points ahead and looked to have a decent chance of causing a major upset.
Trailing by 1-6 to 0-4 at the break, the north Longford side eventually woke up to get their act together and there was just no stopping Ross McNerney and Shay McKeon in the full-forward-line. Receiving a great supply of the ball, the deadly duo clocked up 1-8 between them in the second half with McNerney scoring a delightful goal in the 39th minute.
Latching on to a centre from Fergal Sheridan, there was touch of class in the cool manner that Ross chipped the ball over the head of the advancing Southern Gaels keeper Shane Bannon into the back of the net in the 39th minute to give Colmcille a slender 1-7 to 1-6 lead after the gap was closed with three points on the trot through McKeon (2) and McNerney.
A further brace of scores apiece from McKeon and McNerney opened up a decisive lead before Mark Rossiter shot over the bar in the 50th minute for what proved to be Southern Gaels only score in the one-sided second half.
Another Colmcille point followed from Conor Hawkins before the gallant losers created one last chance of putting the pressure back on the reigning champions but a fine strike from substitute Conor Farrell was saved in superb style by the opposing keeper Chris Blankley in the 57th minute.
St. Colmcille’s finished strongly with three more points through Shay Mc Keon and Conor Hawkins (2) to retain the second tier title and will now play Granard/Ballymore in the quarter-final of the Minor ‘A’ Championship.
But the Minor ‘B’ winners received a real fright in the first half as Southern Gaels (minus the services of one of their key players George McDermott) enjoyed the better of the exchanges with the advantage of the wind and created a couple of clear-cut goal chances before they eventually found the back of the net in the 29th minute when a shot from Niall Casserley was deflected over the line.
Casserley also fired over a fine point and he figured prominently in the first half along with Gavin Kelly and Mark Rossiter who registered a couple of scores apiece.
Peter Bohan was also on target for Southern Gaels while Fergal Sheridan, Shay McKeon and Ross McNerney (2) replied for St. Colmcille’s who found themselves trailing by five points at the break with McNerney missing a very good chance of a goal in the early stages of the game.
But the trend of the game changed dramatically in the second half as the Colmcille side gradually clicked into top gear to outscore Southern Gaels 1-11 to 0-1 in emerging victorious.
ST. COLMCILLE’S: Chris Blankley; Gerard Mulligan, Vinny Hourican; Shane Gray, Cormac Hughes, Andrew Blankley; Conor Hawkins (0-3), Martin Mulligan; Enda Macken, Fergal Sheridan (0-1), Cathal McCabe; Shay McKeon (0-6, two frees), Ross McNerney (1-5, two frees).
Subs:- Scott Duignan for S Gray (33 mins); Nathan Duignan for A Blankley (58 mins); Aaron Jones for S McKeon (60 mins).
SOUTHERN GAELS: Shane Bannon; Casey Weafer, Andrew Farrell; Corrie Carberry, Shane Cosgrove, Mel Farrell; Niall Casserley (1-1), Gavin Kelly (0-2, one free); Mark Rossiter (0-3), Quinten Lee, Eoin Flood; Peter Bohan (0-1), Mark Murtagh.
Subs:- Conor Farrell for Q Lee (40 mins); Liam Duffy for E Flood (55 mins); James Skelly for M Murtagh (57 mins).
Referee: Stephen Tierney (Mostrim).