GAA London Minor Championship Final
Goals clinch Minor title for Kiernans
St Kiernans 4-06
By Damian Dolan
St Kiernans made amends for last year’s defeat to Parnells in the final as they were crowned Minor champions at Ruislip on Sunday for the fifth time in the last ten years.
It was Kiernans’ ability to raise the green flag that ultimately swayed this final their way, which served as an entertaining appetizer for the Senior county final to follow.
Ronan O’Sullivan’s free opened the scoring but Kiernans struck for their first goal after ten minutes when Shane Buckley released Connor Crossan, only for his shot to be blocked on the line, but Dylan Kearney pounced to goal from the rebound.
However, Tara responded with a goal of their own through Michael Prenderville, who was picked out by Brendan Lyons before his low shot beat the partially unsighted Kieran Healy.
Kiernans stretched their lead through Buckley and Alfie McNulty before Kearney out jumped Andrew O’Connell to a long ball down field that was allowed to bounce, only to see the ball come back off the crossbar.
Kiernans were on top and at times it was all hands to the pump in the Tara backline. Crossan, Kearney and McNulty in particular were causing them no end of problems.
Buckley dragged a low shot across the face of O’Connell’s goal. Kiernans were not taking their chances. That would eventually change. Buckley added a free and then saw his shot come back off the post, only to fall perfectly for McNulty to goal. McNulty’s strike in added time at the end of the first half saw Kiernans lead 2-3 to 1-1 at the break.
Eamonn Scullion increased the margin upon the restart and within four minutes the lead was up to nine points as Thomas O’Hanlon added a third goal for Kiernans. Crossan ran at the heart of Kiernans before finding Kearney to round O’Connell and his low shot from a tight able was turned into the net by O’Hanlon.
Tara had no choice now but to pour bodies forward and they got their rewards. Liam Scott pointed with Conor Harte then finding the net to put the destination of the 2012 Minor title back in the balance.
Liam O’Connor played the ball in and with Liam Fennessy making a nuisance of himself, Harte followed up to raise the green flag. Buckley replied with a free, but Tara were enjoying a good spell and David Flaherty’s shot was defected into the sidenetting.
Tara continued to chip away with Conor Riordan, O’Sullivan (free) and Harte all pointing to close the gap to just a goal with five minutes still to play. It had been a great come back from Tara, but it ended two minutes later as David Caulfield fisted home Liam Gallagher’s free.
O’Hanlon was denied a second goal by a good block from O’Connell, which would have been harsh on Tara. After Tara’s rally, it had been a strong finish by Kiernans and it was enough to ensure that it was they who were crowned Minor champions for 2012.
St Kiernans: Kieran Kelly; Thomas Connolly, Chris Hanafin, Adrian Walsh; Luke Carry, Eamonn Scullion (0-1), Callum Tinch; Liam Gallagher, David Caulfield (1-0); Shane Buckley (0-3, 2f), Connor Crossan, Alfie McNulty (1-1); Dylan Kearney (1-0), Thomas O’Hanlon (1-0), Ryan Sullivan. Subs: Joe O’Sullivan for Carry, Ryan O’Connell (0-1) for O’Hanlon, Sean McGoldrick for Caulfield.
Tara: Andrew O’Connell; James Carry, Rory Carolan, Ciaran McNamara; Daniel McNicholas, Liam O’Connor, Liam Scott (0-1); Liam McGrath, Brendan Lyons; Michael Prendeville (1-0), David Flaherty (0-1), Ronan O’Sullivan (0-2f); Conor Riordan (0-1), Conor Harte (1-01), Aaron Kilkenny. Subs: Liam Fennessy for Kilkenny, Luke Nolan for Carry.