Minor Football Championship Final
Éire Óg 1-7
By John Foley
A FANTASTIC performance by Fenagh saw the minor football championship returning to the club for the first time since 1961 after an eight-point win over Éire Óg in the curtain-raiser at Netwatch Cullen Park on Sunday afternoon.
The win was every bit as impressive as it looks with Fenagh getting on top in all sectors of the pitch. A quick-fire start saw them score 2-3 before Éire Óg even got off the mark and they held their advantage right through to the end.
Fenagh were quick to make their presence felt on this game with Jack Treacy slotting past Éire Óg goalkeeper Jamie Coogan for the opening score after just six minutes. The goal came when Fenagh got a hand in on an Éire Óg pass out of defence and it was a sign of things to come with Fenagh tackling tenaciously all over the pitch.
A pair of Fenagh frees – one each from Michael Murphy and Sean Smithers – pushed their lead out to five points as early as the 10th minute and already it looked like Éire Óg had a mountain to climb.
The town side were slow to settle as they were never allowed to gather their thoughts when in possession. Early shots at the posts were rushed and they had a couple of wides before a high ball into the Fenagh square was fisted onto the bar in a forest of hands by an Éire Óg forward.
Fenagh took full advantage of their reprieve and they raced back up the pitch to record their second goal after just 14 minutes.
Luke Bradley charged up the right wing, got a bit of luck with a rebound when the pass came his way and then kept a cool head to slot the ball into the net. Leading 2-2 to no score, Fenagh were well in charge.
Sean Smithers added a super score from the left wing before Éire Óg finally found their feet. Three points in as many minutes allowed them to catch their breath through two Jordan Morrissey frees and Dylan Keightley.
It could have been much worse for Éire Óg but Jamie Coogan in goals made a fantastic save from a snap shot in the square to keep his side in the game. However it was Fenagh who pushed further ahead before half time with Cormac Lomax, Sean Smithers and Michael Murphy from a 45 making it 2-6 to 0-3 at the break.
Éire Óg needed to make a big impact after the restart if they were to salvage the contest but once again Fenagh were quick to impose themselves.
Sean Smithers added an early free before Jack Treacy lofted a lovely score. Then Michael Murphy slotted a 45 to make it 2-9 to 0-3 after 36 minutes of play.
Éire Óg gathered themselves with a Ben Crotty point and then a shot by Dylan Keightley deceived the Fenagh goalkeeper Jack Hughes and went all the way to the net. Full-forward Kyle O’Byrne added a point to make it 2-9 to 1-4 but then a big moment arrived when Hughes made an excellent save from Éire Óg’s Jordan Morrissey. A goal at this stage would have catapulted Éire Óg back into the game but with that opportunity gone, their hopes of gaining minor glory this year seemed to sink away.
From there to the end Fenagh were able to keep their opponents at arm’s length. Michael Murphy’s beautiful striking from 45s was a feature of the second half, as was Sean Smithers’ free-taking. But right around the pitch Fenagh had physically stronger players who were more assured in possession.
Éire Óg tried manfully with the likes of Hugh Dooley, Dylan Keightley and Luke Lawler working hard but they were never allowed to gain a period of sustained dominance.
As for Fenagh, this win comes quickly on the back of their U16 A championship final victory over Rathvilly. The development work being done in the club in recent years is really starting to bear fruit. This win will certainly be savoured.
Fenagh: Jack Hughes; Niall Whelan, Sean Cummins, Eoin Kavanagh; Keagan Bradley, Padraig Hynes, Luke Bradley (1-0); Ciaran Whelan, Jamie McCabe; Cormac Lomax (0-1), Michael Murphy (0-5, 0-3 45s, 0-2 frees), Sean Smithers (0-5, 0-4 frees); Jack Treacy (1-1), Conor Treacy, Colin Byrne. Subs: Ciaran Dowling for C Treacy (60 mins), Shane Nolan for J Treacy (60 mins), Mark Foley for C Byrne (61 mins), James Cummins for N Whelan (63 mins), Rian Farrell for J Hughes (63 mins)
Éire Óg: Jamie Coogan; Adam Nolan, Luke Lawler, Philip Hegarty; Tadhg Dooley, Ben Costello, Dylan Keightley (1-2, 0-1 free); Jordan Morrissey (0-2, frees), Diarmuid Ruth; Leven De Silva, Hugh Dooley, Andrew Lewis; James Esser, Kyle O’Byrne (0-1), Diarmuid Murphy. Subs: Ben Crotty (0-1) for D Murphy (26 mins), Luke Kehoe (0-1) for J Esser (30 mins), Fionn Kelly for A Lewis (39 mins), Luca Hutton for B Costello (46 mins), Leon Woods for L De Silva (57 mins)
Referee: Jonathan Murphy (St Mullins)