Collegeland claim Junior Championship crown

Collegeland 1-12 Derrynoose 1-9

As the teams marched around the perimeter of the pitch before the throw in yesterday evening, the noise surrounding the ground was exhilarating, both sides heavily supported and with the sun shining down the crowd anticipated a fantastic occasion and the game of football lived up to those expectations.

Neither team shot the lights out but both can be happy with the spectacle they served up, with some brilliant hits, fantastic scores, wonder goals, end to end action, everything good about championship football. Of course on the night there had to be a loser and Derrynoose can have no compliments as Collegeland were just too good for them across the 60 minutes, but the result was far from confirmed as the clock ticked towards additional time.

Collegeland began proceedings and took an early lead when Shane Donnelly’s powerful, driving run ended with the opening score of the tie. A heroic block from Ruairi McGeary ensured the O’Rahilly’s kept in front as he denied Peter McKearney as shot towards the goal after Aaron Fox had played him through.

Derrynoose didn’t have to wait long to get on the scoreboard when Pauric McNaughton’s brilliant kick pass flew over the top of a Collegeland defender and straight into the arms of Pearse Lennon who found Conor McNally coming around on the loop and McNally didn’t have to take a second look before striking the ball between the posts.

Lennon was the man at the end of the next attack with Stephen Keenan grabbing the assist to see their side take a one point lead after eight minutes. Jason Kelly tied the contest with a point after a superb turnover in the centre of the park from Shane Donnelly sent Collegeland on their way.

Scott McCann got in on the action with a long range shot before Conor McNally once again left the sides on level terms with his second of the evening. Donnelly added to his tally after strongly winning possession on the edge of the square but his score was again matched by McNally who fired over from a free after he had been fouled off the ball.

Stephen Clancy played further forward than his number three jersey would suggest and he nudged Collegeland one ahead with Scott McCann assisting the attack. The game really burst into life with 10 minutes of the half remaining and the fans were treated to two absolutely cracking goals, one at either side of the field.

A miss-placed Derrynoose pass in the centre of the field was turned over and offered Collegeland a chance to quickly counter attack, which they did in style. Ryan McParland took a huge hit before playing the ball to Shane Donnelly who saw the ball drift past him to find Jason Kelly who soccer styled the ball into the corner of the net with a beautiful finish.

With Derrynoose now trailing by four, the next score was an important one and what a score it was. Conor McNally was again upended but instead of taking a shot at the goals he took a quick free and found an unmarked Pauric McNaughton. McNaughton blasted the ball goal-wards and the inside of the crossbar offered a helping hand in aiding the ball across the goal line.

Ryan McParland settled Collegeland with a point following a hectic few minutes while Conor McNally done likewise for his team, again converting a placed ball after he had been fouled. Derrynoose had a chance to level the game just before the break but the posts was McNaughton’s enemy this time and his effort bounced wide before the short whistle with Collegeland just ahead, 1-6 to 1-5.

The sides were level within 60 seconds of the second period as McNally again found his range from the dead ball but Collegeland edged their noses in front once more after Stefan McKenna’s interception began an attack which ended with Robert McQuaid hitting his first point of the evening.

The sides continued to swap scores with McNally (2) matching points from Scott McCann (free) and Tyrone McGeary with Collegeland keeping their two point lead. Derrynoose were presented with a fantastic chance to go ahead as Pauric McNaughton fed the ball to Pearse Lennon but Niall Brady, the Collegeland keeper, rushed to the rescue with a smothering save to deny Derrynoose a game changing three-pointer.

James Kelly made certain of victory with a hugely inspirational score as the centre half back gained possession on his own 45 metre line before powering the length of the field, playing a one-two with Stephen Clancy, and firing his side three points up with time running out for Derrynoose to salvage something from the tie.

Stefan McKenna kicked an insurance point in the 34th minute as he stroked over a point from a 45. Derrynoose desperately searched for a goal chance but Collegeland continued to deny any space or time for the attacks. McNally did point a late free but it wasn’t enough to salvage something from the contest and Cathair McGeary proudly collected the Sean Quinn cup for his side, with Collegeland deservingly victorious on the night, 1-12 to 1-9.

Collegeland: Niall Brady, Tiarnan McGeary, Stephen Clancy (0-1), Ruairi McGeary, Stefan McKenna (0-1), James Kelly (0-1), Shane Donnelly (0-3), Cathair McGeary, Pauric McGeary, Ryan McParland (0-1), Robert McQuaid (0-1), Tyrone McGeary (0-2), Scott McCann (0-1), Tom Murphy, Jason Kelly (1-1). Subs: Aidan McCracken for R. McQuaid, Brian McGeary for R. McParland, Kevin McNicholl for J. Kelly.

Derrynoose: Stephen McArdle, Cathal McNaughton, Joseph Brennan, Damian McGrane, Patrick Quinn, Patrick Kelly, Aaron Fox, Peter McKearney, Sean Lennon, Conall McNally, Stephen Keenan, Pauric McNaughton (1-0), Sean Leonard, Conor McNally (0-8), Pearse Lennon (0-1). Subs: David McCreesh for S. Keenan, Stephen McKearney for Conall McNally, Fintan Corvan for P. Kelly, Kevin McKenna for P. McNaughton, Liam McGrane for P. Lennon.