Round Towers 1-8
Kildare Minor B Football Championship final
James Ebbs showed nerves of steel to secure a draw for Round Towers at the end of a turbulent climax to Sunday’s Minor B Championship final.
The Towers forward, who scored 1-6 in all, nailed a 63rd minute free to send this tie to a replay and deny a Balyna outfit who looked as if they had stolen it themselves at the death. The amalgamation of Clogherinkoe and Johnstownbridge trailed by two points going into injury time, and despite missing a penalty late on they found a goal through Karl Langan that looked to have given them the win.
It would have been rough justice on a Towers side who competed manfully across the entire game but were let down by their shooting on numerous occasions, but Ebbs’ vital last minute score grants them the reprieve they deserved.
Round Towers got off to a wonderful start as they found the net after just over a minute. The source of the goal was the hard running of the excellent Robert Burke, who attacked down the right wing before eventually losing possession close to goal under pressure. The ball bobbled out towards James Ebbs however, and the full-forward steered a low finish past Ryan Comeau in the Balyna goal.
Wing-back Keith Clancy then roamed up from his spot on the right handside to curl over a fine point as Towers sauntered into a four-point lead with just three minutes on the clock.
Balyna finally got a foothold in the game after that as they began to create some opportunities at the other end, but they were made to fight tooth and nail for every chance. Midfielder Mark Grehan got them off the mark with a good score, before Karl Langan finished off a superb team move to get their second point.
Ebbs knocked over a long range free at the opposite end in response, but that score – coming in the seventh minute – would be their final one until the fourth minute of stoppage time at the end of the half. They did come close to a second goal however, though Comeau brilliantly tipped a close range John O’Dwyer shot around the post.
Towers ‘keeper Evan Comerford was then called into action shortly after, and he produced an acrobatic save to parry a powerful Langan shot over the bar. The quality went out of the game during the second quarter, but Balyna did haul themselves level through a couple of Sean Nolan points, before Ebbs landed a free in the 34th minute for the Kildare Town side to ensure they entered the break with a 1-3 to 0-5 lead.
Balyna started the second half in superb fashion as they camped themselves inside the Towers half, and with the likes of Grehan and Langan making some strong runs they began to create openings. Killian Galligan fired over a brilliant individual score upon the restart, before Darragh Solan nudged the amalgamated side into the lead for the first time with a fine score. Grehan soon cut through for his second of the day, and it looked like Balyna were setting themselves up for the win.
The Round Towers management team made a shrewd move by moving midfielder Christopher O’Mahoney towards the edge of the square, and he created havoc over the next 10 minutes to turn the game on its head.
He got the first of their four points in a row, with Ebbs landing the next three all from frees as Towers looked destined to claim the title.
All the drama unfolded in the dying minutes however.
Referee Kieran Harris awarded what looked like a rather soft penalty to Balyna, and when Sean Nolan stepped up to try and plunder home what could well be the game-winning goal he was denied by a superb save from Comerford who sprung to his right.
The men in black and green were not to be denied their big goal however, and it came from a superb move as substitute Rob Bergin claimed a high ball close to goal, offloaded it neatly to the onrushing Langan, and he supplied a perfect finish to the net.
A one-point loss would have been cruel on Towers, and the ice cool Ebbs duly stepped up to secure the draw by splitting the posts with a difficult free from the left wing.
Scorers for Balyna: K Langan 1-2, M Grehan and S Nolan(2f) 0-2 each, K Galligan and D Solan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Round Towers: J Ebbs 1-6(6f), K Clancy and C O’Mahoney 0-1 each.
Ryan Comeau; Conor Farrell, Cathal Moran, Colm Moore; Sean Holton, Elian Scanlon, Mark O’Hara; Mark Grehan, Shane Flynn; Karl Langan, Killian Galligan, Aedan Boyle; Jamie Boyle, Darragh Solan, Sean Nolan.
Subs used: Jack Sutton for Moore HT, Rob Bergin for Flynn 58mins.
Evan Comerford; Lorcan Hyland, Daragh Searing, Hugh McDonald; Keith Clancy, Tadgh Murtagh, Ross Carroll; Christopher O’Mahoney, Max Byrne; Colin English, Danny Kelly, John O’Dwyer; Leon Tsang, James Ebbs, Robert Burke.
Subs used: Callum Flynn for English 42mins.
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