Eoin Brennan watched Inagh-Kilnamona draw 4-4 to 2-10 with Ballyea after extra-time in the U13A Academy final
Inagh-Kilnamona and Ballyea will have to do it all over again for the Under 13 Academy A honours after Ballyea’s never-say-die attitude twice reeled in Inagh-Kilnamona at the death in Clareabbey last Thursday evening.
Not that any supporters will be complaining about an extra helping of such a thrilling 80 minute rollercoaster ride that was as compelling as any final one is likely to witness this year.
Having led for the last 40 minutes, Inagh-Kilnamona appeared poised to retain their Under 13 reserve title for the first time in their history.
However, Ballyea’s character powered to the surface for a grandstand finish as points from talisman Ben Casey (2) and Ryan Galvin were dramatically capped off by an injury-time equaliser through centre-back Micheál Hanrahan to force extra-time.
Buoyed by that reprieve, Ballyea maintained that momentum into the additional periods as despite facing into the conditions, a sixth Casey free was bolstered by a superb Galvin finish to the roof of the net to catapult their side into a 2-8 to 2-4 cushion by the 64th minute.
Within six minutes, Inagh-Kilnamona would have snatched back the whip hand though following quick-fire goals from wing-forwards Donagh Minogue and Daithi O’Leary to edge two clear by the midway mark.
With the wind now at their backs, Ballyea conjured up one last rally on the resumption with an excellent Jack Doyle point matched inevitably by equalising sensation Michael Hanrahan who again burst down the right wing before firing over what proved the last score of an absorbing first final.
Led principally by Ben Casey, the Gulvin brothers Jack and Ryan and centre-back Hanrahan, Ballyea seemed to relish going against the grain as they also began on the frontfoot despite playing into the wind.
Both sides had early goals chances denied for Cathal Glynn and Ryan Gulvin but Ballyea were the ones to make the breakthrough in the sixth minute.
A Cathal Lillis pull was stopped by impressive goalkeeper Paddy Hehir and a scramble ensued with Jack Doyle appearing to flick the ball over the line.
Followed immediately by a Ben Casey free, it allowed Ballyea some early breathing space, particularly as Inagh-Kilnamona found it difficult to hone their radar.
Fourteen first half wides would clearly hamper the wind-assisted side’s progress and indeed it took until the second quarter for Inagh-Kilnamona to find their range with rapid points through chief leaders Michael Guthrie, Chrisopher Rynne and Cathal Glynn.
The plethora of missed chances was beginning to frustrate until Conor Griffin centred to the excellent Donagh Minogue to billow the far corner of the net and catapult Inagh-Kilnamona into the ascendency for the first time in the 22nd minute at 1-3 to 1-1.
It didn’t inspire their point-taking efforts but six further wides would be solaced by a change of fortune as Cathal Glynn’s point attempt managed to dip into the roof of the net to garner a 2-3 to 1-1 interval advantage.
While Ballyea did finally end their 25 minute barren patch on the restart with a brace of Casey frees, they were also extremely grateful to goalkeeper Dylan Lucas who pulled off an outstanding full length stop to somehow keep out a Daithi O’Leary pulled goal attempt.
At goal at that stage may have settled matters as Inagh-Kilnamona would only score a solitary point in the second period. Enough of a gap for a resurgent Ballyea to bounce incrementally back off the ropes in style to first force extra-time before Hanrahan’s heroics ensured a must-see replay.
Inagh-Kilnamona: Paddy Hehir; Martin Roughan, Iwan Phillips, Ronan Killeen; Keith O’Rourke, Christopher Rynne, Thomas Rynne; Niall Burke, Michael Guthrie; Daithi O’Leary, Conor Griffin, Donagh Minogue; Jamie Gillespie, Cathal Glynn, Niall Roughan. Subs: Darragh Shannon, Cian Foudy. Scorers: Donagh Minogue (2-0); Cathal Glynn (1-1); Daithi O’Leary, Michael Guthrie (f), Christopher Rynne, Conor Griffin (0-1 each)
Ballyea: Dylan Lucas; Evan Kelly, Evan Carrigg, Jake Slattery; Michael Harnett, Micheál Hanrahan, Ferdéa Conway; Ben Casey, Alex Garry; Jack Gulvin, Robbie Kelly, Jack Doyle; Cathal Lillis, Ryan Gulvin, Cathal O’Rourke. Subs: Aaron Cleary, Oisin Queally, Bo Murphy, Eli Gallery, Cathal Barry, Cian Carrigg. Scorers: Ben Casey (0-6f); Ryan Gulvin, Jack Doyle (1-1 each); Micheál Hanrahan (0-2)
Referee: Kevin Corry (Sixmilebridge)