Not to be for Castleknock in Junior Championship Semi-Final

They always say semi finals are there to be won and Castleknock would have gladly taken the win in this titanic intense championship encounter out in Donabate on Sunday morning 14th Sept. All the young Nudes regrouped after a first round group loss to Clontarf to slalom through the championship to the semi final stage. There, they met Pats of Donabate (from one division higher) out in their grounds on a balmy Sunday morning.

Castleknock started against a stiff breeze, and with Pats dropping two forwards into defense, found it hard to break down their opponents. It was scoreless in a nervy encounter until Pats, taking advantage of the wind, hit Castleknock for two scores on the ten minute mark. Castleknock got hands on ball in midfield and Ali Hannigan was showing well inside but that resolute Pats defense turned them back and went further ahead through their influential no 10 who went on to have a man of the match performance. Castleknock got their breath at the water break and straight after the break Osgur Murphy O’Kane slalomed through on goal only to be denied by the Pats keeper. Castleknock pushed on and Shane Carolan registered the away team’s first score of the game. The ref started to throw out a few innocuous yellow cards to Castleknock which would go on to have a major impact on the game. Pats went down the field and nicked another score to go 5-1 ahead at half time but with a strong breeze in the second half Castleknock were still in the game.

Castleknock came out energized at half time and straight away a Jamie Tunney free found Dave McGinty. A long ball through the middle landed in Sean Dunning’s hands and he swiveled on a sixpence and finished to the net. Castleknock pushed up on the kickout and turned over the ball to leave Shane Carolan in space to level the game. Pats to their credit rolled up their sleeves and worked numerous balls out of defense without panic to release runners and get a few scores. Castleknock came back again with the imperious Carolan inside really motoring now and kicking scores. This was real championship fare as both teams upped the ante and Jamie Tunney and Oisin started to put a stamp on midfield.

However the ref had other ideas and Martin Brady who had put in a good shift was unlucky to get a second yellow to leave Castleknock down to 14 men. Ciaran Carey stepped up to the mark with a lovely score and sub Liam Quinn bursting off the bench to do his bit. Both teams were going hammer and tongs and after Pats going two up, Castleknock came back and leveled it. However with things getting desperate Castleknock got another second yellow for another soft challenge as well as a black card for a last ditch Jack King tackle and things looked done. Pats got a penalty for that black card tackle but their skillful no 11 hit the post and Gary O’Hara cleared to safety.

With 3 men down, cometh the hour, cometh the men and Castleknock dug in. Oisin Murphy won a 20-80 ball in midfield and got a belt for his troubles which resulted in Pats midfielder getting the line. Castleknock rallied and Carolan again kept them moving. Sean Dunning then turned over a huge ball on a kickout to free Carey who slalomed through for a huge score and Castleknock looked the team with two men up not down. More hunger from Aaron O’Gara, Oisin Murphy and Jamie Tunney found Castleknock in front of the post with 50 seconds left and Carolan did the business to leave the minimum between the sides. This was incredible fare from a team at this stage 3 players down due to another black card.

There was one more kickout said the ref. The Pats keeper took the kickout and his usual accuracy deserted him and he put it over the sideline. Castleknock went quickly with the free and quick hands released a forward straight through who went for goal but it just slipped wide. Pats breathed a massive sigh of relief and the ref blew the whistle after the kickout ending an epic encounter.

An agonizing defeat for Nudies crew but they went out on their shields but a really good base is set up for next year. Many thanks to Nudie and Mick Lynch for all they’ve done with this team. Much love to Oisin Murphy O’Kane who rescheduled his work transfer to Luxembourg to play the game. We wish him all the best on his new adventure.

Team: Alex Griffin, Niall Walsh, Jack King, Gary O’Hara, Dave McGinty, Aaron O’Gara, Eoghan Kearney, Jamie Tunney, Oisin Murphy O’Kane, Ciaran Carey, Martin Brady, Osgur Murphy O’Kane, Ali Hannigan, Sean Dunning, Shane Carolan
Subs used: Liam Quinn, Rob Kearney, Matthew Murphy, James Doherty
Report: Gerry Kelly