Éire Óg 1-18
By Charlie Keegan
JORDAN Morrisey, the Carlow county senior player, kicked a magnificent point from long range in injury time of this outstanding U20 A football championship quarter-final at the Bennekerry grounds on Thursday evening, to give the visitors the narrowest of victories over their hosts.
This game must rank as one of the best, if not the stand-out football championship game, of any grade in the county during 2019 as it pitted two excellent teams in a fixture which was brimful of good football and wonderful scores.
The game was played at a hectic pace and if Jordan Morrisey, who kicked a total of 0-13 of his side’s total – 0-10 from placed balls – was the player who stood out head and shoulders over all his colleagues, then the same can be said of Palatine full-forward Andrew Keogh who hit 2-7 (0-4 from frees). The Pal number 14 gave an exhibition of full-forward play and hardly lost a ball he contested all match.
Éire Óg were quick off the mark playing into the wind with two quick pointed frees from Morrissey, playing at left corner-back, backed up by one white flag from play by centre forward Ben Costello.
On 10 minutes, frail defending by Palatine in their own goal area allowed Éire Óg right half-forward Mark Behan to crash the ball to the net from close range.
Pal eventually got off the mark with a pointed free from Andrew Keogh on 12 minutes but that was immediately offset by a Jordan Morrissey point from play.
The game then swung dramatically to the home side. Andrew Keogh began to torment the Éire Óg defence, aided and abetted by the talented Gavin Healy at centre forward. Finbar Kavanagh and Cathal O’Neill were winning the greater share of midfield ball – an area that was contested in the old style of long kick-outs, both sides thankfully eschewing the modern short kick-out policy adopted by most club and county teams.
Suddenly Pal were motoring and when Gavin Healy stormed through the Éire Óg defence on 15 minutes he hammered home a great goal. Midfielders Cathal O’Neill and Kyle O’Byrne traded points from play as things swung from end to end and another fine point from Andrew Keogh left only a point between the sides on 17 minutes (l-5 to 1-4).
The visitors then lost Kyle O’Byrne to a black card and Keogh quickly landed the levelling point from a free, before Healy pointed Pal in front for the first time. On 23 minutes Andrew Keogh gained possession in the right corner of attack, foraged his way through to shoot a superb goal. Morrissey, however, stopped the bleeding for Éire Óg with a well-worked point.
It was 2-8 to 1-9 at half time, Jordan Morrissey finishing the scoring as he had started it, with a pointed free.
The pace of the game never dropped during a hectic second half. Palatine’s inclination to give away scorable frees was punished inexorably by the accuracy of Jordan Morrissey throughout the half.
But for much of the second period Pal clung to the lead, counter-attacking effectively and picking off the odd score to just about keep their noses in front.
The sides were tied on 48 minutes courtesy of a Morrissey free. The following minute Cathal O’Neill’s centre from close to the right sideline caused confusion in the Éire Óg defence and Andrew Keogh was on hand to blast the ball to the net.
That proved to be Pal’s last score and the Teach Asca side went on to dominate the balance of play with substitute Diarmuid Ruth and his midfield partner Diarmuid Murphy gaining a lot of possession in the vital centre-field area. Centre back David Dunphy pointed from play and two further Morrissey pointed frees levelled matters before the county man sealed victory with that magnificent winning point out of play, the effort judged to perfection.
The second half was also marked by some brilliant goalkeeping at both ends – Éire Og’s Evan Kearns making a wonderful double save to deny Gavin Healy a certain goal at a critical juncture while Luke Hickey, the Pal custodian, twice denied Jordan Morrissey when he was in on goal in a one-on-one situation.
Éire Óg: Evan Kearns; Philip Hegarty, Brian Fitzgerald, Luke Lawler; Adam Nolan, David Dunphy (0-1), Shane Buggy; Diarmuid Murphy, Kyle O’Byrne (0-1), Mark Behan (1-0), Ben Costello (0-2), Ben Crotty; James Esser, Hugh Doorley, Jordan Morrissey (0-13, 0-10 frees). Subs: Diarmuid Ruth (0-1) for O’Byrne (black card, 15 mins); Anthony Keating for Ben Costello (45 mins); Luke Kehoe for Esser (56 mins).
Palatine: Luke Hickey; Jack Holmes, Craig Bowden, Conor Hickson; Ciarán O’Hagan, Darragh Heneghan, Dan Brennan; Finbar Kavanagh, Cathal O’Neill (0-2); Jacob O’Brien, Gavin Healy (1-1), Tomás Sheehan (0-1); Danny Quigley, Andrew Keogh (2-7, 0-4 frees), Ian Kelly. Subs: Seán O’Sullian for Quigley (injured, 54 mins); Jordan O’Brien for Jacob O’Brien (60 mins).
Referee: David Hickey (Fenagh)