Round Towers 2-19
St Kevin's 1-25
MD Sports Senior Football League Division 2 final
St Kevin's sealed the Division 2 league title in stunning fashion in St Conleth's Park on Sunday afternoon as a superb showing in extra-time helped them to a breathtaking three-point win over a hugely unlucky Round Towers side. It was an epic encounter that Round Towers looked to have sewn up when they blazed into an eight-point advantage midway through the second half, but St Kevin's showed serious grit and fighting spirit to claw back the deficit and send the game to extra-time.
Declan Flaherty and Barry Noone were superb for the victors as they kicked 1-14 between them, while Ross Carew took over the scoring mantle in the added periods as he chipped in with three points from play during the first period of additional time. Neil Scanlon carried the biggest threat for Round Towers as he bagged 10 points for his side, while the likes of Stuart Murphy and Neil Scanlon also had superb games and can count themselves unlucky to be on the losing side.
It was neck and neck for much of the opening stages of an enthralling first half, and though it took a little while to fully click into gear, the 15 minutes directly before half-time saw some fine football played by both sides.
Round Towers certainly looked to have more about them going forward, and the playmaking of centre-forward Jason O'Brien and the ball-winning capabilities of the inside trio of Stuart Murphy, Conor Hyland and Neil Scanlon provided them with a great platform up front. They almost struck an early goal in the third minute when Jason Dunne drove through a gap in the defence but he drove his shot wide of the mark, though Scanlon soon opened their account with an accurate close range free.
Stuart Murphy then curled over a sumptuous effort from 40 metres out, before St Kevin's got up and running when Mark Grace finished off a fine move up the right wing. Mark Scanlon and Neil Scanlon then slotted over points either side of a Barry Noone free, leaving them two points to the good midway through the opening half. The lively Declan Flaherty almost bagged a goal for Kevin's when he won a high ball over Stephen Comerford, but the young Towers defender got back excellently to block the Kildare hurler's shot on the line and send it out for a '45, one which Noone confidently stroked over.
The game then began to spark to life, and it was Jason O'Brien who lit the match on this encounter when he tore down the right wing with the ball and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the roof of Brian Elliott's net. Scanlon followed up with an excellent effort from the right wing off the outside of his boot, sending Towers into a 1-5 to 0-4 lead with 20 minutes played.
Chris Byrne's side needed to responded, and they did so in excellent fashion as Flaherty led the fightback. He curled over the first of his three-point salvo in the space of five minutes when he found space on the left wing, but Murphy cancelled that out at the other end when he slotted over following a flowing team move.
Another free from Noone and two further points from Flaherty in as many minutes marked Kevin's' best spell of the first half, narrowing the gap to just two points with five minutes left of the clock. Scanlon and Grace found time to raise white flags at either end before the break, meaning Glenn Ryan's side were 1-7 to 0-8 clear at the turnaround.
Scanlon and Noone swapped points at the beginning of the half, and when Flaherty nudged over his fourth of the afternoon Kevin's were just one point off the pace with an abundance of time left to play. The Kildare Town side really turned on the style after that however, scoring 1-4 in the space of four minutes as they looked to have killed the game off by the time it entered the final quarter.
Scanlon pointed a free before Matthew Kelly surprised everyone in the ground by smashing the ball into the back of the net from 20 metres out when he looked likely to go for a point, and he followed that up immediately after with a fine point from play to put Towers firmly in the driving seat. Scanlon then smashed over a long range free off the ground before substitute Niall Cleary chipped in with a point as they sailed into an eight point lead with 15 minutes left to play.
St Kevin's needed to conjure up something brilliant, and they managed to do just that by outscoring their opponents by outscoring their opponents by 1-6 to 0-1 over the next seven minutes as they levelled up the game. Flaherty got them back into the tie when he rifled home a goal that barely crossed the line despite Comerford almost keeping it out, and that really gave Kevin's the shot in the arm they needed. Their challenge was helped when Brian Robinson was shown a red card after receiving a black card having been shown a yellow in the first half.
Fine points from Noone and Jamie Smith followed quickly after that, and while Scanlon interrupted their scoring spree, Kevin's went on to reel off another four in a row as Noone knocked over two from play and one from a free to reduce the gap to the minimum, before Ciaran Smith belted over a brilliant point from the left wing to tie the game up with eight minutes left to play.
Murphy ended the Kevin's purple patch by firing over an excellent score at the other end, but Noone once again had the game level as it ticked towards stoppage time. After missing a simple 20 metre free, Scanlon showed great composure under pressure to slot over a point from play to send Towers into the lead with little time left on the clock. Mark Grace looked to have missed the opportunity to send the game to extra-time when he hit the post with a 61st minute shot, but centre-back Tom Barron stole in at the death to fist over the all-important score as the board read 2-15 to 1-18 at full-time.
Round Towers were restored to 15 men upon the restart, and Glenn Ryan opted to bring in Niall Fleming who had earlier been replaced as a substitute. They got off to the better start as midfielder Evan Flynn pointed from distance, but Kevin's enjoyed a much better 10 minutes in that first half of extra-time as they clocked up four scores in succession through Brian Fogarty and three from Ross Carew, who really came to life at that stage. Flynn kept Towers in the tie by fisting over a point, but another superb point from Flaherty meant that Kevin's went in 1-23 to 2-17 ahead with just the second half of extra-time to play.
It was always going to be a case of Kevin's being able to hang on for the final 10 minutes without having to do too much going forward, and though they had some close moments as Conor Hyland struck the crossbar and Elliott had to make a stunning save on Matthew Kelly, Kevin's saw hthe game out rather comfortably with points from Jack Kenny and Noone keeping them ticking over en route to an epic victory.
Scorers for Round Towers: N Scanlon 0-10(4f), M Kelly 1-1, S Murphy 0-4, J O'Brien 1-0, E Flynn 0-2, M Scanlon and N Cleary 0-1 each.
Scorers for St Kevin's: B Noone 0-9(5f, 1'45), D Flaherty 1-5, R Carew 0-4(1f), M Grace 0-2, J Smith, T Barron, B Fogarty, C Smith and Jack Kenny 0-1 each.
C Farrell; S Comerford, M Kelly, M Joyce(L McDonald 21mins inj(W Murray 66mins)); J Dunne, C Daffy, N Fleming(N Cleary 41mins); M Kelly, E Flynn; B Robinson, J O'Brien, J Dunne; C Hyland, S Murphy, N Scanlon.
B Elliott; K O'Brien(D Rean58mins), J Brosnan, T McDonald; J Smith(C O'Leary 59mins), T Barron, B Fogarty; M Kenny, M Grace(C Gordon ET); Joe Kenny(D Brereton 54mins), R Carew, C Smith(J Smith 60mins(C Carew 66mins); J Fitzharris(Jack Kenny 56mins), D Flaherty, B Noone.
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