St.Vincents/Curraha travelled north for the semi-Final of the Coolrite Refrigeration U20 [C] championship, on a drizzly wet Saturday afternoon, for a meeting with group A table-toppers Wolfe Tones. With Wolfe Tones putting up some huge scores in the group stages, with big wins over Bective/Dunsany, Na Fianna and St.Ultans/Cortown, St.Vincents/Curraha as Group B runners up had it all to do to pull off a win here. Wolfe Tones were coming in favourites, but St.Vincents/Curraha were still in with a fighting chance after they had comprehensively beaten Moynalty/Carnaross 2 weeks earlier in Pairc Naomh Chiarán [Carnaross]. With the game originally fixed for Pairc Baile Ghib, [Gibbstown], it was moved to Pairc Mhic Eoin [Kilberry] earlier in the morning. With the other semi final taking place at the same time between Bective/Dunsany and Inny Gaels who had topped group B to see who either St.Vincents/Curraha or Wolfe Tones would be playing in the final.
Pat Clarke got the much-anticipated game underway shortly after 2.00pm, with St.Vincents/Curraha bringing lots of travelling support. Vincents/Curraha won the throw up and straight away brought a great fight to Wolfe Tones. Diarmuid Moriarty kicked a great ball into Sean Ronan who’s shot just went barely wide at the right hand side of the post. St.Vincents/Curraha were shooting into the dressing rooms end for the first half and played with the wind. The game was quite tense at the start with both sides anxious to have a go at each other. There was a greasy surface on the Kilberry pitch because of the morning dew which was still on the pitch because of the coldness in the day. Eventually Wolfe Tones got the first point of the game coming from play off the right foot of Joe Smith. Wolfe Tones had a chance to double their lead but Joe Smith was unable to do so with a wide from a free. The game started to open up more, with a several quite hard shoulders coming from both sides. Wolfe Tones doubled their lead after a long build up of play ending in a free for Wolfe Tones which was converted by Joe Smith to leave them 0.02 to 0.00 ahead about 10 minutes into the first half. There was a small stoppage in play for a few moments when Matthew Brennan’s kickout went out to the left-hand side of the pitch. An accidental collision with St.Vincents/Curraha’s Diarmuid Moriarty and Conor Early along with Oisín Martin from the Tones, with Moriarty and Early both coming off the worst. For a moment or two the Vincents/Curraha supporters were worried that they might lose the 2 players. Thankfully after a few minutes the 2 were back on their feet, and the game resumed. St.Vincents/Curraha really had started to grow into the match now and their hard work resulted in a free which was converted by midfielder Moriarty who had scored 21 points, 14 from frees, in the 3 group matches before this match.
Wolfe Tones once again went ahead by 2 when Joe Smith converted his 3rd free of the game. The Tones then put a good move together which ended up with a fine score from play by their centre half forward. This would be Wolfe Tones’s final point of the first half. The game went quiet then when the rain started to fall in Kilberry with both sides unable to put many attacks together. All of a sudden St.Vincents/Curraha exploded into the game and completely took over with them winning nearly all the kickouts, and their backs winning and cleaning up any loose balls dropping into danger areas. With a brilliant team move starting with Moriarty who gave a Trevor Giles style foot pass into Ruarí O’Sullivan who calmly turned and slotted it straight over the blackspot, to leave it 0.02 to 0.04 heading into the last 5 minutes of the first half. With Diarmuid Moriarty starting to find his rhythm again after the clash between the 3 players minutes before, he kicked a super point from play to leave a point between the sides. Moriarty had the chance to level the game from a free but his shot just tailed wide on the left-hand side of the post. The Tones played a very defensive style of football which was hard to break down, and hard to look at, at times. Eventually St.Vincents/Curraha broke through the line of Tones men, which resulted in a monster point from play coming off the right foot of Moriarty to leave it a draw match, much to the delight of the huge travelling support, heading into injury time in the first half. As Pat Clarke blew for halftime in Kilberry the score read 4 points a piece, a very tough physical 30+ minutes of football, and it was anyone’s game.
St.Vincents/Curraha started the second half much the brighter of the 2 sides, with them looking far more dangerous going forward, even though they were playing against the wind. All the same, Matthew Brennan was kept very busy between the posts with him pulling off some brilliant saves from all angles at vital times in the match. The first point of the second half came from a Moriarty free which brought his personal tally to 0.04 points. St.Vincents/Curraha then started to turn the screw with another monster point from Moriarty, this time coming off his left foot. With some Mick Lyons style defending from Matthew Webb who stopped a certain goal chance, Robert O’Farrell who is young and making a big step up at this level, was playing as though he was an established county corner back, along with Ben Heagney who was brilliant all day long, and wasn’t afraid to get up the pitch and help the St.Vincents/Curraha forwards.
It was Ben Heagney who led by example and made a storming run up the field and played a quick one two with Conor O’Brien, who gave it back to Heagney who continued his long run up the field. Heagney bared down on goal and flicked the ball to Ruairí O’Sullivan whose shot was well saved by Daniel McHugh, but the ball fell to Sean Ronan who calmly slotted the ball into the net, much to the delight of the St.Vincents/Curraha support. The score read 1.06 to 0.04 about 10 minutes into the second half. With the Wolfe Tones players, management, and support left gob-smacked by this St.Vincents/Curraha team who they thought were just coming down to make up the numbers, were now 5 points ahead and looking far the better side.
With Wolfe Tones still waiting for their first score since about the 20th minute of the first half, and badly needing something to try reignite their flame. They were nearly right back in the match with a fine run up the field by Sean Penny who had pace to burn, had a crack at goal which was going in top corner, only to be somehow saved by the Packie Bonner of Curraha, Matthew Brennan. St.Vincents/Curraha then decided to introduce Jamie Fewer who came in for James White who had ran himself into the ground playing as a wing half forward. Wolfe Tones eventually got their first point of the second half when Oisín Martin scored a fine point play off the outside of his left foot to try and lift the demoralised Tones’s spirits. With 4 points between the sides heading into the final 15 minutes of the match, you could feel the tension all around Pairc Mhic Eoin. The St.Vincents/Curraha players didn’t panic though with great defending from Cian Heagney, along with brilliant runs up the field from Gary Tuite and Alex McEntee who wasn't afraid to get stuck into the Tones players. With St.Vincents/Curraha wanting to keep a good lead against this Tones side after working so hard for the lead, Sean Ronan then scored a fine point off his right foot which just sneaked inside the right-hand side of the post, to leave 5 points between the sides. The St.Vincents/Curraha players were battered and bruised and were minutes away from pulling off one of the biggest results of the weekend. It would be a great win for St.Vincents/Curraha if they were to beat Wolfe Tones, with the Tones being the 2021 U20 A winners, and nobody gave St.Vincents/Curraha much of a chance.
Oisín Martin had a chance to get it back to 4 but his shot tailed off wide. Diarmuid Moriarty had the chance to make it a six point game but his shot unluckily drifted wide at the left hand side of the post. Wolfe Tones were bound to have a purple patch which they did indeed get and started to play a lot better than they had been. Their next two shots which they badly needed were kicked wide which would probably come back to haunt them. Wolfe Tones then got a badly needed score coming off the right foot of Sean Penny. Joe Smith kicked the Tones right back into the game with the next two points of the game both from frees to leave the score 1.07 to 0.08, and it was game on heading into injury time. With Wolfe Tones pushing for a winning goal, St.Vincents/Curraha showed real character to withstand some very hard Tones pressure. St.Vincents/Curraha had plenty of men behind the ball to keep the Tones out, with great defending by all the backs and the ace attacker Moriarty and corner forward Robert McGovern to name a few. Along with Matthew Brennan who was still pulling off superb saves which were vital in keeping St.Vincents/Curraha ahead. With Wolfe Tones so concentrated on getting a goal Moriarty made an unbelievable catch around the goal mouth, he went up the side-line on a solo run and left 4 Tones players for dust behind him. Moriarty done a couple of one twos up the field with Conor O’Brien who gave the ball to Robert McGovern who was fouled a long long way out and Moriarty stepped up as cool as ice and kicked a monster free to bring his personal tally to 0.06 points. With St.Vincents/Curraha not going to let this memorable lead slip they kicked on and Denis McEntee won the ball out almost on the end line and he curled it over sensationally much to the delight of the St.Vincents/Curraha supporters, to leave the score 1.09 to 0.08. As Pat Clarke blew for full time in Kilberry the St.Vincents/Curraha players, managers and supporters celebrated the brilliant occasion, the hard work and commitment over the past 2 months had paid off.
They now have an U20 (C) championship final to look forward to. This was an especially sweet victory for Curraha who defeated Wolfe Tones in the 2015 U21 A FC Final which capped off a brilliant year for Curraha that year. It is hard to believe that it is 7 years ago now and many of the players on both sides are now playing senior football for Curraha and Wolfe Tones ,with County man James McEntee scoring 1.02 for Curraha that day, along with former county man David Toner also starring for Curraha when he scored 0.03 points that day. Also playing that day in Stamullen was some of the Tones 2021 Keegan Cup winners. Without a doubt there will be some players from today’s game from St.Vincents/Curraha and Wolfe Tones who will be playing for Meath in the future. It was a terrific game 7 years ago and it was a terrific game on Saturday.
Full Time: St.Vincents/Curraha 1.09 Wolfe Tones 0.08
The result in the other game finished Bective/Dunsany 1:13 Inny Gaels 2.08
So St.Vincents/Curraha will be playing Bective/Dunsany in the final. The final is fixed for Saturday 26th November in Skyrne. Throw-in at 2pm.
Make sure to get behind the lads from Curraha and Ardcath over the next week. And make sure to get your flags and bunting up as well at home, and around the parish. Get behind the lads and get down the final and help bring home the cup. A championship victory would give a great boost heading into the 2023 season for Curraha and Ardcath. Hon The Ha!!!!!!!!!! and C’mon the Maroon and Whites!!!!!!!!!!
CREDIT TO IVAN KEOGH FOR THE MATCH REPORT
Diarmuid Moriarty 0.06(0.03F) Sean Ronan(1.01) Ruairí O’Sullivan(0.01) Denis McEntee(0.01)
Matthew Brennan, Robert O’Farrell, Matthew Webb, Cian Heagney, Ben Heagney, Gary Tuite, Alex McEntee, Diarmuid Moriarty, Conor O’Brien, James White, Denis McEntee, Conor Early, Sean Ronan, Ruarí O’Sullivan, Robert McGovern
Subs Used: Jamie Fewer for James White
Managers and selectors: From Curraha, David Coyle and Mark Phelan, and from Ardcath Alan Early and John Tuite.
Referee: Pat Clarke (Seneschalstown)