AFL 2 Play-Off Final: Round Tower 0-11 v Clontarf 4-10, St Anne’s Park, Sunday 27th November
Round Tower Senior Footballers AFL2 campaign came to a disappointing conclusion at the final hurdle as a pacey Clontarf side had too much quality.
Three first half goals provided Clontarf with the platform to progress to the top tier. Towers fought valiantly but struggled throughout against the pace that their young opponents brought to their attacking play. Niall Lanigan kicked the opener after three minutes with a free from range but it was 20 minutes before Towers registered their second score of the game. In between, Clontarf had registered 3-4 without reply. Their first goal came from a pacey attack from the half forwards and was teed up by Dublin footballer Jack McCaffrey ghosting in on goal and teeing up a colleague to palm it to the net. A free registered Clontarf’s initial point before a Towers loss from a kickout led to McCaffrey pointing from the right. Towers keeper Gary Cleary was at full stretch to block a one-on-one goal-bound effort before another Clontarf point was tagged on from a 21 metre free. Their fourth came from their left-half-forward from a smartly worked short free. The full forward did excellent to keep a breaking ball in play and it led to the right half forward being dragged to the ground for a penalty that the number 14 despatched high to the net. Towers build-up was slower and they kicked two wides before being caught for a third goal. An excellent flick in midfield left the Towers rearguard exposed and the centre and right half forwards combined for the latter to finish. Towers put together their best move of the half, involving Barry Keane, Thomas Galvin, Micheál Walsh and Niall Lanigan, leading to Jason Joyce fielding high and pointing on the turn. Walsh then notched his first, doing excellent to control a long Ian Ward delivery and kick accurately on the turn from an acute angle. Towers were enjoying the better finish to the half and our fourth point arrived when a precise Galvin pass to Walsh led to a free that Lanigan converted.
Trailing 3-4 v 0-4 at the break, Towers had a monumental task ahead of them. It almost became more seismic upon throw-in as Niall Byrne was forced to block from the line within a minute. A deflected Trevor Clendenning strike led to Lanigan converting the 45. McCaffrey continued to ghost forward and was almost in on goal but fouled. The free was converted. The final defining moment came when a Towers attack up the left was broken and a pacey Clontarf counter attack led to another goal being palmed to the net. Clontarf’s right corner forward clipped a score from the right to leave 13 between the sides. To their credit, Towers heads did not drop. Walsh curled an excellent point from the right and Joyce strength enabled him win a long delivery and kick successfully. Clontarf kept ticking over, kicking another two. When Stephen Bracken was fouled, Derek Murray and Joyce worked a free into Walsh and he cut inside and drove over. A foul on Joyce led to his kicking leaving it 4-8 v 0-9. Micheál kicked another after set-up by Mick Hallows and Simon McGuinness long-back inside led to Joyce breaking three tackles before scoring. It was the last of our scores and brought our AFL2 campaign to an end.
Players and management deserve immense credit for a campaign that originally began in January and continues, with an Senior B Championship play-off against Erins Isles to be played Wednesday.
Round Tower: Gary Cleary, Niall Byrne, Derek Murray, Dan Gregg, James Kelly, Ian Ward, Barry Keane, Mick Hallows, Liam Connolly, Micheál Walsh, Trevor Clendenning, Thomas Galvin, Kevin McGibney, Jason Joyce, Niall Lanigan. Used subs: Seán O’Donnagáin, Stephen Bracken, Mark Taylor, Aaron Soady, Simon McGuinness