ALL BRITAIN JUNIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
By Ian Caulfield at Pairc na hEireann, Birmingham
Lancashire overcame a spirited Hertfordshire challenge by five points in Pairc na hEireann on Sunday in the first round of the British Junior Championship. A good and sporting game was settled by goals from Kevin Lanigan and Colm Conway, one in either half, although Herts, who hit the post or crossbar four times, will feel unlucky not to have caused an upset.
Caolan Conroy opened the scoring for Lancashire in the 4th minute but Herts quickly responded with a point from captain Mark Ryan. Lancashire dominated in midfield in the early stages and this provided the platform for a purple patch in which they hit 1-2 without reply in ten minutes, the goal scored by impressive midfielder Kevin Lanigan and the points from Conroy and roaming wing back Martin Carey. Lancashire also had a goal disallowed on the 10th minute for a square ball from a set piece.
Hertfordshire nerves were settled in the 15th minute with a point from Mark Ryan and the same man was unlucky not to goal moments later as he saw three shots rebound off either post in the space of 10 seconds. Minutes later Ryan again was close to goal after a fine pass from Stephen Lavery left him one and one with Lancashire goalie Declan Alter, who pulled out a fine save to deny the Oxford man.
Lancashire responded to this fright well and outscored Hertfordshire three points (Jacob, Lanigan and Conway) to one (Cormac Healy) before the half time whistle to leave the score at 1-5 to 0-3.
The second half opened with a fine point from Caolan Conroy, but Hertfordshire, who had started to get a grip at midfield, couldn’t respond and kicked three wides in a row.
However, the six point gap was halved on the 37th minute when JP Doyle blasted to the back of the Lancashire net.
The northerners responded immediately with a net buster from corner forward Colm Conway to restore the gap to six.
They were then awarded a penalty soon after and full forward Liam Coyne opted to take the point to open a 7 point gap.
Hertfordshire responded well with points from impressive full forward Cormac Healy and marauding wing forward Eoin Mageean. Healy hit the crossbar on the 45th minute after a dangerous diagonal pass from midfielder Richard McKenzie and this served as a wakeup call for Lancashire who scored the next two points from the boots of Murtagh and the Caolan Conroy to restore the lead to 7 points.
Hertfordshire outscored Lancashire three points to one in the final ten minutes with points from Mageean, Healy and Seamus Hayes against a screamer from Greg Jacob. They couldn’t close the gap further though and will rue the width of the Pairc na hEireann goalposts. Final Score: Hertfordshire 1-08, Lancashire 2- 10.
Hertfordshire: Kevin Morrissey, Michael Nevin, James McKenzie, Eoin Toomey, Stevie Doran, Seamus Hayes (0-1), Brendan O’ Leary, Richard McKenzie, Andy Kelly, JP Doyle (1-0), Steven Lavery, Mark Ryan (0-2), Eoin Mageean (0-2), Cormac Healy (0-3), Piers McGlynn.
Lancashire: Declan Adler, Eoghan Kerr, Michael Gallagher, John O’ Hagan, Martin Carey (0-1), Gary Morris, Ronan Gallagher, Dennis O’ Neill, Kevin Lanigan (1-1), Rory O’ Donoghue, Greg Jacob (0-2), Aaron Murtagh, Caolan Conroy (0-3), Liam Coyne (0-1), Colm Conway (1-1).