Round Tower 6-9 v Trinity Gaels 1-9; Parnell Park, Saturday 21st May 2016. Under 16 Football C Championship Final. NIALL CONNAUGHTON’S IMAGES AVAILABLE TO VIEW VIA OUR FLICKR PAGE HERE.
A day of glory at Parnell Park for Round Tower as our Under 16 Footballers claimed Championship glory with an emphatic display of tenacity, composure and deadliness in front of goal, writes Mick McGlynn. Seán Casey was the three goal hero and a stand-out performer, earning the man-of-the-match title from the neutral County Board observers watching in the stand. But this was an all-round team display, that started with goalkeeper Tom Cannon and was evident throughout the side. This is testament to the excellent coaching from mentors Mark Casey, Kevin Bermingham, Richie Harney and Billy O’Connor.
Parnell Park has not been a happy hunting ground for Towers in recent seasons but there was no evidence of any apprehension from our 16 Footballers who were off to a flying start. Within two minutes they’d the umpire raising the green flag. Casey broke inside the full back line and with a right footed strike he drilled it beyond the keeper.
It helped settle any nerves the lads may have held and they built upon the early momentum. Four minutes in they were six to the good, with the Trinity Gaels net again rattled. Casey was again influential, winning possession from a kick-out. He drove at a retreating rearguard before flicking outside to the supporting Alex O’Neill. The left-corner forward side-footed past the keeper at his near post.
Casey almost struck a third, driving a strike just beyond the far post. Seven minutes in Gaels registered their first score from a free but Towers went on the goal trail again. An excellent dispossession by Niall Acton on the Towers 50 led to Casey being released on the Gaels 40. He carried at pace before slipping to full forward Padraig McNamara who struck low beyond the keeper.
Gaels responded with another free and they threatened a goal but Cannon was quick off his line to intercept. Another free brought their third point and they then registered two further points from play. Towers first point came midway through the half. Casey and Acton were patient in the build-up and half-forward Camin Byrne struck with his right. A push on Casey brought our second point through a free from O’Neill. The goal ‘glut’ was temporary. Six minutes before the break McNamara netted his second. Half-back Kevin Curran broke into the forwards and jinked past two before releasing the full forward who finished from close range. A Seán Bermingham dispossession led to him running at a retreating rearguard and the foul on him led to O’Neill kicking another free.
Gaels almost netted when their midfielder drifted into space and he struck his effort high but Cannon palmed it away. He followed it up moments later with an excellent tip around the post but the resulting play led to a penalty that Gaels capitalised upon, with the ball dispatched low to Cannon’s right corner. Gaels finished the half with another point, leaving Towers in command but with plenty still to do at the break, through a 4-3 v 1-6 scoreline.
Gaels started the second period with an early wide and Towers capitalised when Bermingham broke from the 40 and teed up Matthew Kelly who, despite being off balance, kicked successfully. Casey was narrowly wide with two strikes for goal, a great fetch for the second leading to a drive that was inches from the net. Liam O’Connor tapped a free to edge the leading margin to 4-5 v 1-6. Another free, this time on the right side, enabled O’Neill bring the points scoreline level.
There would be no denying Towers. Their fifth goal arrived with a quarter of the game remaining. A heavy rain shower had made the ball greasy but there was no evidence of this when Bermingham caught brilliantly under the stand. He found Casey in the inside forwards with a low ball inside. After outpacing two defenders, he finished low to the net.
Towers were required to defend throughout the second half and it was disciplined. Players filtered back to deny clear striking opportunities and fouls were not needlessly conceded. Full-back Lee Slattery denied one opportunity with a flick away, substitute Lu Heffernan’s energy brought defensive cover and a launchpad for attacks, and Lee Moran, solid at centre-half back throughout, made a great block to deny a point. In attack they were patient when required. O’Neill and Heffernan displayed such patience to win a free that was converted by O’Connor. Casey won another free, displaying great hand control with a wet ball, and O’Neill converted. Gaels clipped another point but at this late stage it was a consolation.
An excellent pick-up by Casey in the left corner bought him the space to jink past two defenders. Kelly supported and teed-up onrushing midfielder Acton to raise the umpires white flag. The goal threat, evident from the second minute, remained to the end. Casey was denied by a close-range save before Gaels kicked a point and then they followed it up with a converted free.
It was fitting Casey had the final say with another finish to the net. A lovely overhead flick pass by Adam Eustace on the left touchline released our number 15 into space. His angle was narrowed but he had the composure to cut back outside and stroke beyond the keeper.
It was the final play of the game and to a rapturous reception from the large travelling Towers supporters captain Liam O’Connor raised aloft the trophy.
A magnificent achievement by players and their mentors, Mark, Kevin, Richie and Billy. Congratulations all!
Round Tower: Tom Cannon, Alex Judge, Jack Slattery, Tomás Greenhalgh, Alex Doyle, Lee Moran, Kevin Curran, Adam Eustace, Niall Acton, Caimin Byrne, Liam O’Connor, Alex O’Neill, Seán Bermingham, Padraig McNamara, Seán Casey, Conor Broderick, Lu Heffernan, Seán Billings, Seámus Cromie, Aidan Kelly, Matthew Kelly, Oisin Douglas, Daniel Mitchell, Paul Morgan, Kian McCarton.