Leinster Junior Football Championship quarter-final
Milltown (Kildare) 1-8
Naomh Eoin 1-7
By Robert Cribbin
NAOMH EOIN cam within a whisker of grasping victory from Milltown in Saturday’s Leinster club junior championship clash in Hawkfield.
However when the final whistle blew it was the 13-man Kildare side who booked a place in the semi-finals thanks to a late free by Ronan O’Shea.
Cian Buckley and Alan Dignam were handed red cards while Colin O’Shea was black carded in a dramatic conclusion to the contest but Milltown still managed to find a way to win.
The game started off with Morgan Owens getting free for Milltown but his goalbound effort was touched over as the hosts opened the scoring.
Naomh Eoin responded with a couple of points from Cillian McCabe and they then struck for goal with Anthony Hogan finishing past Paul Mulhall despite the Milltown stopper getting a strong hand on the shot.
Milltown squandered a few opportunities afterwards before Ronan O’Shea palmed a shot over the bar with the goal seemingly gaping.
Alan Dignam then scored a point to reduce the lead to one but a goal was only around the corner and they got it in the 25th minute with teenager Robbie Scully finishing to the net on the back of a crossfield pass from Morgan Owens.
Although one point ahead at half time, Milltown should have been further clear at the interval but they had to be content with a 1-3 to 1-2 lead after Alan Dignam missed a couple of scoreable frees in the last two attacks of the half.
Naomh Eoin made three substitutions at the break and it quickly had an effect with Dwain Kavanagh bringing the sides level at 1-3 each inside the opening minute of the half.
But that was the last score for 20 minutes for the Myshall based outfit as Milltown began to take control.
A Dignam free put them in front while Scully, Ronan O’Shea and Eoghan O’Toole followed suit as they opened up a four-point advantage.
Just as Milltown were threatening to pull clear, Naomh Eoin mounted a comeback. Donal Smithers steadied the Naomh Eoin ship with a 48th minute free and moments later Milltown lost captain O’Shea to a black card.
Smithers wasn’t finished there and he kicked two more frees to leave Naomh Eoin only trailing by a point entering the dying minutes.
If losing O’Shea was a big blow for Declan Brennan’s side, worse was to follow when both Alan Dignam and Cian Buckley received red cards in quick succession.
Naomh Eoin took advantage with Martin Doyle kicking a cracking equaliser and with five minutes to play all the momentum was with the Carlow men who had two extra players.
Milltown looked to be hanging on for extra-time at this juncture but they found the energy to win a close range free. Ronan O’Shea made no mistake in finding the target to put Milltown through.
Milltown: Paul Mulhall; Jamie Cross, Kevin Byrne, Eoin Dowling, Morgan Owens (0-1), Colin O’Shea, James Condon, Omar Dunne, Eoghan O’Toole (0-1), Alan Dignam (0-2, 0-1 free), Kevin Dowling, Cian Buckley, Robert Scully (1-1), Ronan O’Shea (0-3, 0-1 free), Wayne Dignam. Subs: Mick Colleton for C O’Shea (52 b/c), Sean Tiernan for W Dignam (55 mins.
Naomh Eoin: Ronan Nolan; Shane Cranny, Shane Kavanagh, Michael Mullins, Tommy Nolan, Phillip Smithers, James O’Hara, Kevin Foley, John Michael Nolan, Conor Foley, Dwain Kavanagh (0-1), Anthony Hogan (1-0), Donal Smithers (0-3, frees), Eanna Kavanagh, Cillian McCabe (0-2). Subs: Ross Smithers for Hogan (h/t), Martin Doyle (0-1) for E Kavanagh (h/t), Martin Clowry for K Foley (h/t); Cathal Tracey for D Kavanagh (60 mins)
Referee: Patrick Coyle (Meath)