Naomh Eoin 2-6
By Kieran Murphy
THESE two teams took up where they left off six days previously: in Netwatch Cullen Park and in the wet. Last week the driving rain and a sodden pitch put an end to proceedings. This time the pitch absorbed all that fell on it and the game went ahead.
Kildavin-Clonegal got off to the better start on the scoreboard with Naomh Eoin registering two early wides and Eoin Roberts nudged the Wexford-border side ahead. Donal Smithers cancelled that one out with a point from play.
A beautifully weighted 20m pass from Joe Roberts put in Daryl Roberts who saw his shot fly over the crossbar. Daniel St Ledger landed a long-range free and followed up with a point from play. Eoin Roberts followed on with his second point of the half. With only 11 minutes gone Kildavin were four points to the good.
Four minutes before the break Naomh Eoin got back into the game when a high delivery was met by John Michael Nolan who deflected the ball past Ronan Brennan for an opportunist goal.
A minute later a Donal Smithers free tied the scores and he followed up with another point to squeeze his side in front.
As the game went into injury time, a gung-ho Myshall side came at their rivals who could hardly have believed how the game had turned against them.
Cillian McCabe, who had come on only seconds earlier, took possession to the left on the edge of the big square. With defenders slow to close him down he let fly and once again the ball nestled in the bottom left-hand corner of the net. Leading 2-3 to 0-5 at the break the Naomh Eoin comeback was complete. Significantly they had held Kildavin-Clonegal scoreless for over 12 minutes.
They didn’t drive on in the second half. Instead Kildavin-Clonegal enjoyed greater possession in the third quarter. The wet weather was a factor and both sides found scores difficult to come by.
Joe Roberts flighted over frees on 31 and 33 minutes. It was a grim battle which kept supporters on edge. Neither side would score for the following 18 minutes.
The deadlock was broken when the ball fell onto the edge of the small square. In the wet anything could happen and this time fortune favoured Kildavin-Clonegal. Daryl Roberts certainly got a touch to deflect the ball goalwards. Ronan Nolan did well in the Naomh Eoin goal to make the stop but the presence of Aidan Kelly was decisive and the ball fell just over the line. The substitute may claim the goal but no matter as far as Kildavin-Clonegal were concerned, they had taken a one-point lead.
The rate of scoring improved after that. St Ledger’s point looked like insurance but Smithers hit back with a free. Joe Roberts bisected the posts once more for that two-point lead but they couldn’t hold on.
Credit Naomh Eoin. They were almost dead and buried against Éire Óg in the group stages and hit back to make the quarter-finals. They did the same here.
Donal Smithers may have landed the last two frees to bring the game to a replay but it was a huge effort by Naomh Eoin whose bid for back to back junior A and intermediate championships is still alive.
The replay is fixed for Saturay evening at 6pm in Netwatch Cullen Park.
Kildavin-Clonegal: Ronan Brennan; Cillian Redmond, Paul Kelly, Niall Murphy; Donal Hickey, Liam Roberts, Barry Hickey; John Kirwin, Daniel St Ledger (0-3, 0-1 free); Liam Conway, Eoin Roberts (0-2), Dan Murphy; Joe Roberts (0-3, 0-2 frees), Paul Nolan, Daryl Roberts (0-1). Subs: Aidan Kelly (1-0) for Nolan, Niall Hickey for Conway (both 38 mins).
Naomh Eoin: Ronan Nolan; James O’Hara, Shane Kavanagh, Jack Kavanagh; Eoin Hosey, Philip Smithers, Micheál Mullins; John Michael Nolan (1-0), Martin Doyle; Ross Smithers, Kevin Foley, Conor Foley; Donal Smithers (0-6, 0-5 frees), Eoin Redmond, Cathal Tracey. Subs: James Smithers for Redmond (25 mins), Cillian McCabe (1-0) for J Smithers (31 mins), Eanna Kavanagh for Foley (47 mins),
Referee: Patrick Murphy (Ballinkillen).