Junior A championship vs St Judes

Sun, 23rd July 2006

Result: 1.14 to 0.13

“Looks like we made it,
Look how far we’ve come my baby,
We mighta took the long way,
We knew we’d get there someday”

The words of a Shania Twain ditty from a few years back and the half Cherokee songstress may have been directing the words at the men from Castleknock as they crash landed into the quarter final of the Junior A championship at the expense of Judes in the Porterstown arena on Sunday morning. Despite an indifferent first half display and the enforced absence of maestro Willie Brennan, Castleknock used all their guile and experience to drag themselves into the winner’s enclosure following a second half tour de force.

There were a few changes made from the Service game with Damien Griffin filling in for John MacMenamin, Eoghan O’Callaghan taking over the holidaying Stephen Lynch’s midfield berth and rookie Alex Griffith from the minors taking over the goalkeeper position from Eoin O’Baoill. A big ask for the young netminder but one he passed with flying colours as we shall see later.

Judes began the game in determined fashion with their lively full forward opening the scoring with a well taken point. He was to prove a thorn in the side of Denis Lally all morning but Denis stuck to his task manfully and by the end of the game he was bringing his man upfield as Judes did all they could to reduce the gap between the teams. Castleknock were finding it hard to string their usual lightning fast moves together and this was in no small part to the Judes full back line who had obviously been forewarned by the threats posed by Messrs Molloy and Corcoran. Still, with Brian Kelly doing some great work in the centre of defence and Damien O’Grady working tirelessly for everything, Castleknock clung on and even went ahead through a couple of monster frees from Paddy Molloy and a super turn and shot by Tommy Corcoran.

However Judes wouldn’t lie down and their midfielders began to win some good ball (and also target Iggy for a bit of punishment!) but they were let down by their shooting which was due to the pressure being put on by Alan Rarrerty and Steve McCabe. Castleknock upped the tempo and Dublin minor Rory Corcoran really began to shine. He won two balls in a row that he had no right to win, went off on a run decorating it with some dummy handpasses and swivels and lofted the ball over the bar from the right hand side from 35 yards for a truly outstanding score. If there’s a better forward playing at minor level in Dublin at the moment, I’m yet to see him and it’s absolutely crazy how he wasn’t involved in their semi-final defeat to Offaly, but I digress.

The half closed out with a couple of handy frees for Judes given to their full forward who seemed to have the protection of the referee once a hand was put on him but he put them over all the same to leave the bare minimum between the sides at the break with Castleknock just slightly ahead.

Half Time: Castleknock 0-7 St. Judes 0-6

Judes came out strongly in the second half to kick an immediate score to put the pressure back on. However, if there has been one trait about this Castleknock side this season, it is that they do not panic and have supreme confidence in their own ability to play their way out of trouble. Eoghan O’Callaghan and Donal Brady came to the fore here and with Damien and Fergus “Iggy” Reilly assisting in midfield, Castleknock were utterly dominant around the centre. Donal in particular was taking some lovely ball off the backline and playing sweet passes down either channel to Paddy O’Brien and Paddy Molloy.

And as per usual, once midfield get going the forwards will follow. Judes switched markers onto Rory but it made no difference as he continued to beat his man to the ball, round him and kick some super scores. Judes held on and they still sought out their full forward who was keeping the scoreboard ticking over to keep in touch. However the turning point of the game centred on two incidents in the middle of the second half.

Paddy Molloy had a free on the left hand side 50 yards from goal and his high arcing shot looked to be heading wide. Damien O’Grady like any decent forward was on the endline for the kick and managed to leap and keep it in play. As the ball dropped, Damien was first to react to flick the ball over the advancing keeper into the far corner of the net. A truly intuitive score and one that lifted the entire home support. Credit however to Judes who went straight down the pitch and a ball over the top left their corner forward one on one with Alex, the Castleknock keeper. The shot was a rocket but somehow Alex emulated his namesake Stepney at Manchester United in the 60s and flicked the ball onto the bar. Cue a horde of players descending on the ball. Another shot! Anothere save by Alex followed by the two teams engaging in water polo without the swimming pool before the ball was flicked to safety and another massive roar from the Castleknock contingent and even a little sideline dance by Paul “Bull” Mulvihill and John Mac.

Judes heads dropped a bit but they kicked some great frees from impossible angles to keep in touch. Ger O’Brien relieved the pressure with some monster clearances while Damien showed maturity beyond his years to make the right wing his own for the game. Paddy O’Brien then got in on the act and put the final nail in the coffin with three brilliant points in a row following some superb ball winning by Molloy.

So Castleknock march on to the quarters in a competition that some predicted they would be knocked out of in the first round. Who knows where the road will take them but they’ll enjoy the ride while they can. Congratulations to Willie Brennan and especially the miracle man Mick Marren who took the reins in Willie’s absence along with Pat McKeown and set things nicely up for the lads for the next few weeks.

Also speedy recovery to corner back Steven McCabe who suffered a broken wrist in the match on Sunday. It’s a testament to the man that he only discovered on Monday that it was broken. Get well soon Steve. Hopefully he’ll be back for the next round against the Gardai in the first week in September. Paddy the Bear would also like to point out that because Iggy is playing it means at least one Cavan man will be playing football in September. Not many can say that over the years!!!!

Team: Alex Griffith, Stephen McCabe, Denis Lally, Alan Raftery, Damien Griffin, Brian Kelly, Ger O’Brien, Eoghan O’Callaghan, Donal Brady, Damien O’Grady (1-1), Iggy Reilly (0-1), Paddy O’Brien (0-3), Paddy Molloy (0-4), Tommy Corcoran (0-2), Rory Corcoran (0-3)
Subs used: Gerry Kelly, David Leydon