With six minutes remaining in Saturday’s AIB Leinster Club Junior Football Championship 1st round encounter at Maastricht, a sensational shock looked to be on the cards as Killashee St Brigid’s trailed by 1-11 to 2-9 against Amsterdam Gaels.
However, the Longford standard bearers, minus six of the side that featured in their Mulleady Group IFC Final loss against Rathcline - Emmet Skelly, Willie Skelly, Darren Carberry, Francis Dolan, Enda McPartland and Mark Rossiter - , dug deep and they reeled off 1-4 without reply during the concluding five minutes to seal a flattering 2-15 to 2-9 victory.
The reward for Ray Curley managed Killashee is a home quarter-final clash against Louth junior champions Naomh Fionnbarra on November 8 and that yet may possibly become an attractive double header at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park should Killoe get over their opening round assignment in the Leinster Club SFC. Naomh Fionnbarra, with a 1-5 haul from Bernard Osborne and 1-4 from Jack Butterly, crushed Roche Emmets by 2-20 to 0-7 in Sunday’s Louth JFC final - it was their first time to win the JFC title since 2010.
Killashee were mightily relieved to have successfully negotiated this potential banana skin. They flew from Dublin airport to Brussels on the morning of the fixture and they then had an hour and half coach journey to Maastricht so there were many weary and stiff bodies and it took them a long time to shake off the rustiness and adjust to the energy sapping astro turf surface.
But once they did, they produced some decent football against a physically strong Amsterdam outfit who were desperately disappointed not to have won.
After 19 minutes, Amsterdam Gaels enjoyed a 2-4 to 0-3 advantage and it was thoroughly deserved. Their goals, executed by Owen Flynn and Simon Palmer really knocked Killashee back on their heals. Palmer’s goal was of the top drawer. Meath native Daryel Murnin won aerial possession and when Flynn quickly transferred the ball inside, Palmer fisted it beyond Killashee ‘keeper Pat Farrell.
Thanks mainly to Michael Farrell’s accuracy from frees, Killashee steadied the ship and by half-time they were adrift by a much more manageable three points, 0-8 to 2-5.
In fact, aside from Mel Shanley’s 22nd minute point, Farrell was Killashee’s only other first half scorer with 0-7 to his credit. In fairness, he curled over some lovely points, ten in all.
Killashee also kicked eight first half wides to Amsterdam’s three and that was a luxury they couldn’t afford.
Back-to-back European Senior winners Amsterdam, who were beaten by Dublin’s Craobh Chiarain in last year’s Leinster JFC, resumed with plenty of intent and they led after 33 minutes by four points, 0-8 to 2-7, after Eamon Hanrahan and Palmer bisected the uprights.
Killashee, to their credit, didn’t buckle and boosted by Mel Shanley’s 41st minute goal they managed to gain parity at 1-10 to 2-7. Farrell (free) and David O’Neill were on target for Killashee either side of the goal.
Amsterdam went a point clear through Ger Sheridan in the 51st minute and a fine individual score from impressive sub Cillian Lee saw Killashee equalise.
Amsterdam, who are more accustomed to playing 11-a-side fixtures over 40 minutes, weren’t expected to be still pushing hard at this stage of the encounter but they were and when Sheridan (free) made it 2-9 to 1-11 in the 54th minute, Killashee were wondering if their stubborn opponents were ever going to go away.
Farrell’s ninth point from an excellent 56th minute free levelled matters for the 4th occasion, 1-12 to 2-9, and when Killashee gained possession directly from the kick out, James Willis powered through from midfield and slammed home the goal that ultimately burst the ‘Dam.
Willis’ goal was also Killashee’s first occasion to hit the front since the opening minutes when Farrell slotted the first point of the match demonstrating just how under the cosh they actually were.
With a pep in their step and confidence soaring, Johnny Casey, Willis and Farrell (another free) added points in quick succession as Killashee, with their opponents wilting and running out of steam, wrapped up the win in emphatic fashion.
It was in the closing ten minutes of both halves that Killashee did the damage - they were 0-3 to 2-4 behind after 20 minutes and went on to register 0-5 without reply before Amsterdam replied on the call of half time. Ogie Campbell, Willis, Keelan Cox and Casey were to the fore in ensuring Amsterdam lost possession from six of their own kickouts. And they trailed 1-11 to 2-9 after 54 minutes, before their late 1-4 score blitz put the icing on the cake.
Any day you go seven points down and fight back to win by five is a good one.
Killashee know they’ll have to improve ahead of the quarter-final on November 8 but that’s a few weeks away and on Friday they can relax, sit back and enjoy their 125th anniversary celebration dinner dance where GAA President Aogan O Fearghail will be the special guest in the Longford Arms Hotel.
KILLASHEE ST BRIGID’S: Pat Farrell; Eoin Cousins, Gerard Evans (capt.), Robert O’Reilly; Shane Cosgrove, Keelan Cox, Darren Cosgrove; Ogie Campbell, James Willis (1-1); David O’Neill (0-1), Michael Farrell (0-10, 0-7 frees), Johnny Casey (0-1); Mel Shanley (1-1), Enda McKiernan, Michael Shanley.
Sub.: Cillian Lee (0-1) for R O’Reilly (half time), Quentin Lee for E Cousins (52 mins).
AMSTERDAM GAELS: Padraig McGivern; David Corcoran, Ivan Stynes, Steven Carmody; Derek McElhinney, Marty McClean, Nick Moran; Daryel Murnin, Niall Farrelly; Kenny Monaghan, Colm Brennan (0-1), Owen Flynn (1-0); Eamon Hanrahan (0-1), Simon Palmer (1-2), Ger Sheridan
(0-5, 0-3 frees).
Subs.: Ruairi Lenihan for D Corcoran (40 mins), Emmet Dalton for K Monaghan (40 mins), D Corcoran for N Farrelly (42 mins).
REFEREE: Noel McKenna, Kildare.