Evening Herald: Under 21 Football Final, Match Report

By on February 15, 2010
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Gritty Mearnóg turn red to gold

Naomh Mearnóg 0-11 Round Towers (C) 0-07

Tuesday February 16 2010

A performance full of grit and determination helped Naomh Mearnóg to the U21 ‘C’ Championship crown despite playing with a man less than Round Towers of Clondalkin for almost 40 minutes.

No doubt Towers will be wondering where it went wrong after criminally failing to capitalise on their extra man and in truth were outplayed for much of the game.

The winners were on top from the off but they struggled to make territorial dominance count as Towers were far more economical in possession. The Clondalkin men were coping with the pressure and managed to score two excellent points on the counter attack through Ciaran Carr and wing back Barry Keane.

Jamie Walsh kept Mearnóg in touch but still they struggled to get scores on the board as the forwards appeared reluctant to shoot and were taking too much out of the ball.

Brian Reilly-Troy pushed Towers further in front when Mearnóg lost Stephen McHale for an off-the-ball incident after 22 minutes, and it looked as though it was going to be a bad day at the office for his side.

It was not to work out that way, however, as the sending off proved to be a tonic that galvanised the Portmarnock men into a more direct style of play that reaped dividends.

Walsh set the umpires to work before Ryan O’Sullivan sent over the score of the day.

Gathering the ball out wide, he seemingly had nowhere to go as he was surrounded by green and white. But he evaded all would-be challengers on a terrific run and didn’t disappoint with the finish.

Mearnóg centre back Kevin O’Brien was starting to stamp his authority on the game and he was driving his team forward.

It was a perfect display from the number six as he joined the attack whenever he could, but was aware not to forget about his defensive duties.

The game was delicately poised at half time on a scoreline of three points each. The Mearnóg crowd were no doubt worrying about their numerical disadvantage going into the second half as Towers deployed Jamie McMahon in a free role to sit in front of the full-back line in order to stop the supply to twin terrors Walsh and Niall O’Sullivan.

Guilty

But Mearnóg continued in the same vein after the restart and O’Sullivan and Walsh quickly registered points to push them into the lead for the first time in the game.

Once again, Mearnóg were guilty of wasting some opportunities and Towers came back strongly to draw level.

Tom Lyons put over an excellent long-range free from the hands while wing back Keane did the business in front of goal again to set up a nail biting final 10 minutes.

And it was Mearnóg who found the extra gear to pull away and scored five points without reply. Walsh was again instrumental as he got one and set up another for Michael Gibbs. Niall O’Sullivan got in on the act before substitute Eanna Slattery helped himself to a quickfire double.

Towers’ misery was then compounded when corner-back David Clarke saw red when he received his second caution of the day.

His team almost performed an unlikely escape act as Ciaran Carr hit the bar with an audacious effort near the end but it was not to be.

- Diarmuid Geraghty