By Kieran Murphy
THIS junior B football championship final at Netwatch Cullen Park on Friday was a classic example of one side making it happen. In this case it was Rathvilly while, on the other hand, it didn’t matter how hard Kildavin-Clonegal tried nothing went right for them.
Dropped passes, inaccurate distribution and poor decision-making contributed to Kildavin-Clonegal’s plight but Rathvilly’s work-rate and desire made life difficult for the Wexford-border side.
In a low scoring first half two points from Daniel O’Brien eased Rathvilly into a 0-2 to 0-1 lead with Richie Sinnott converting a free for Kildavin-Clonegal.
From an early stage it was clear what Rathvilly were trying to do. Using a two-man full-forward line, they left Stephen Murphy and Larry Farrell to forage for themselves up front while Mark Ryan dropped back to help around midfield. Daniel O’Brien may have worn the number 15 jersey but he patrolled in the entire forward area.
The two-man full-forward line produced the goods when Murphy deflected a high delivery into the path of Farrell who found the net from close range. Ken Doyle followed up with a Rathvilly point on 16 minutes which proved to be the final score of the half as they went to the interval 1-3 to 0-1 ahead.
Within two minutes of the restart the green and gold clad side took a firm grip on the game. Totally unmarked, Rathvilly forward Donal Kelly took a pass from Murphy and with all the time in the world he easily found the posts. Then Murphy added one of his own.
Wilting under pressure from their opponents, Kildavin-Clonegal suffered. In the first half points were there for the taking but efforts either sailed wide or dropped into the grateful hands of Rathvilly keeper Adam Lawlor whose distribution was first class.
You get nights like this in sport. The attitude can be good but the legs, for some reason, grow heavier as the game progresses. There is nothing that can be done. It happens the best of teams.
Sinnott broke Kildavin-Clonegal’s 32-minute scoring drought with a point from play. He excellently converted a penalty into the bottom right-hand corner of the net after Paul Kavanagh was fouled as he ran at the Rathvilly defence. With 19 minutes to go the eventual champions held a 1-6 to 1-2 lead.
The Rathvilly response was top-class yet again. This was going to be their night as O’Brien and Kelly both pointed. Mark Ryan also came forward to land another score. To a man the entire Rathvilly team performed as they snuffed out the challenge of their rivals far easier than they could have imagined in the lead-up to the decider.
They will enjoy this one as the youth and experience combination triumphed with a tremendous performance.
Rathvilly: Adam Lawlor; Kevin McCall, Andrew Sibbald, Shane Byrne; Liam Kelly, Liam O’Brien, Jamie Byrne; Denis Kelly, Ken Doyle (0-1); Hughie Reilly, Larry Farrell (1-0), Donal Kelly (0-4, 0-2 frees); Stephen Murphy (0-1), Mark Ryan (0-1), Daniel O’Brien (0-3). Subs: Diarmuid Gavin for Reilly (32 mins), Kyle Lawlor for Murphy (54 mins), Dominic Byrne for Doyle (58 mins), Tomas Reilly for Ryan (60 mins).
Kildavin-Clonegal: Wayne Austin; Paddy Kavanagh, Liam Murphy, Padraic Byrne; Dylan Reilly, Paul Kavanagh, Philip Byrne; David Byrne, Liam McGill (0-1 free); Ian St Ledger, Richard Sinnott (1-3, 1-0 pen, 0-2 frees), Mark Boland; Aaron Dobbs, Eddie Byrne, Martin Byrne. Subs: Barry Foley for Reilly (34 mins), Andrew Nolan for Dobbs (39 mins), Richard Jeffers for M. Byrne (42 mins), Jack Dempsey for E Byrne (58 mins), Daniel Smith for D Byrne (black card 61 mins).
Referee: Martin Murphy (Tinryland).