GAA London Under 16 Football Championship Final
Spinks strike decides U16 final
St Clarets 0-09
By Damian Dolan
A Connor Spinks point saw Parnells snatch the Under 16 title at Ruislip on Saturday in a tense and dramatic final.
Spinks struck inside the last ten minutes after a topsy-turvy game that swung one way and then the other. But Parnells had to withstand one final onslaught from Clarets before they could get their hands on the cup, with Ryan O’Sullivan flashing a shot just inches wide with the last kick of the game.
Callum Raybould gave Parnells a dream start when he found the net early on, but Clarets shrugged off that blow to battle back bravely and overhaul the deficit. Shane Buckley and Jack Twomey started the fight back before Buckley’s accurate free taking levelled the game up.
Niall Redmond edged Clarets ahead for the first time, but as it was throughout this final, as soon as one side got their noses in front, back came the other and Spinks restored parity.
Buckley (free) and Niall Walsh exchanged scores before both sides were reduced to 14 men as referee Rob Whelan brandished straight red cards to Mikey Maher and Shane O’Hare, as things threatened to boil over.
Another Buckley free nudged Clarets back in front, with Ruairi O’Connor then judging Liam Gallagher’s swirling high ball to perfection under his own crossbar. It wouldn’t be the last time the Parnells keep would excel during the afternoon.
At the other end, Walsh played in Daniel Forde and only an excellent block prevented Conor Bradshaw from being tested, leaving the sides to go in at half-time with St Clarets leading 0-6 to 1-2.
Again Parnells started the better and Spinks soon made the scores level once again. Conor Bradshaw then got a fingertip to Walsh’s curling effort and the resulting 45 caused havoc in the Clarets square before Jamie Madden was in the right place at the right time to find the back of the net from close range.
Once again, Parnells led by a goal, but for the second time Clarets rolled up their sleeves and set about clawing their way back into the game.
Buckley’s free forced a great save from Conor Bradshaw but Clarets kept the pressure on and Ryan O’Connell pointed on the turn. With Parnells struggling to clear their lines Alfie McNulty pointed before a Buckley free meant it was all square once again, and all to play for.
Amidst mounting tension, Spinks was coolness personified to fire over what proved to be the winning score, although Walsh had a great chance to add an insurance point, only to go for goal and bury the ball into the side netting.
That left the door open for Clarets and they so nearly barged right through it. In a dramatic finish they threw everything at Parnells, but just could not manufacture an equalising score. O’Connell dragged a low shot just wide and O’Sullivan’s sweetly struck effort with the last kick of the final fizzed past the far post with O’Connor beaten. All the while captain Chris Sommers was a colossus for Parnells when it was all hands to the pumps.
Best for Parnells were Chris Sommers, Niall Walsh, Shane Maguire, Ruairi O’Connor and John Paul Roche, while Dylan Kearney and Shane Buckley stood out for Clarets.
Parnells: Ruairi O’Connor; Shane Maguire, James Donnellan, Alan Callanan; Jonathan Connell, Gerry Gallen, Tom Sears; Niall Walsh (0-1), Caomhan Cronin; Conor Spinks (0-3), Chris Sommers, Mikey Maher, Daniel Forde, Jamie Madden (1-0), Callum Raybould (1-0). Subs: John Paul Roche for Forde.
St Clarets: Conor Bradshaw; Shane O’Hare, Joseph O’Sullivan, Sean McGoldrick; Aidan Bradshaw, Dylan Kearney, Ciaran Healy; Liam Gallagher, Alfie McNulty (0-1); Frazer Lennon, Shane Buckley (0-5, 4f), Stephen Braybrook; Niall Redmond (0-1), Ryan O’Connell (0-1), Jack Twomey (0-1). Luke Gavin for Braybrook, Ryan O’Sullivan for Remond, Dylan Connor for Lennon.