ALL-BRITAIN JUNIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
By Martin Mannering at Old Bedians
The lack of quality preparation was clearly evident as Lancashire came up short against Kilkenny in Saturday’s All Britain Championship encounter at Old Bedians. There was no lack of effort or individual talent but the problem was illustrated by the number of misplaced passes which led to numerous breakdowns and turnover ball in Kilkenny’s favour.
The home side started brightly enough and aided by the strong breeze were two points up within five minutes courtesy of Ciaran Harper and Niall Donnelly as Denis O Neill and Kevin Lannigan took an early grip at midfield.
The man who was to be the sharpest thorn in Lancashire’s side Michael Bolger hit his first point from a free after seven minutes when Paul Donnelly was fouled.
The Saffrons continued to dominate however and scored the next three points as Lannigan, Harper, Stephen Sands and Caolin Conroy, from a free, found their range.
Paul Donnelly pulled one back for Kilkenny but immediately Padraig McGurk embarked on one of his trademark runs upfield before laying off to Niall Donnelly who made no mistake from 30 metres out.
It was to be McGurk’s last meaningful part however as 21 minutes in, he received a black card for what appeared a rather innocouos challenge on David Herity.
Whether the incident unsettled Lancashire or gave heart to Kilkenny is uncertain but the game certainly took a turn from that point onward.
From there to the break they took a stranglehold on proceedings and added four points with a solitary reply coming from a Conroy free.
The 0-8 to 0-6 lead never looked enough and with the wind at their back Kilkenny set about making full use of it.
In a blistering seven minute spell Michael Bolger rifled a goal and two points with Paul Donnelly adding another to go four clear ten minutes in.
To their credit, Lancashire rallied and began to make some inroads in the Cats’ defence. Gerard McCaughey was hauled down as he went for goal but Caoilin Conroy’s penalty attempt was tame and easily saved by JJ O’Sullivan. Undeterred, the home side came again. Caomhin O’Scannall powered up the left wing before laying the ball off to McCaughey who drilled it to the bottom right hand corner. Stephen Sands levelled as
the match ebbed and flowed.
Kilkenny restored their lead with ten minutes on the clock with another Bolger free and Brian Egan doubled it shortly after. Again the home side refused to lie down and Caolin Conroy’s point was followed up by a fine score from substitute Christy Harkin from wide on the right wing. Lancashire could never get their noses back in front though and it was left to man of the match Bolger to seal the deal with two more points and try as they might, Lancs ran out of time.
Kilkenny: JJ O’Sullivan, Stephen Duncan, Bobby Aylward, Noel Darcy, Joe Fennelly, Cormac McDonald, Philip Roche, James Culleton, David Lyng(0-1), Paul O’Flynn, David Herity, Caleb Roche, Brian Egan(0-1),Paul
Lancashire: Declan Alder, Eoghan Kerr, Michael Gallagher, Niall McShane, Mick Conway, Padraig McGurk, Sean Rice, Denis O’Neill, Kevin Lannigan(0-1),Caoimhin O’Scannell, Ciaran Harper(0-2), Niall Donnelly(0-2), Caolin Conroy(0-4,3f), Gerard McCaughey(1-0),Stephan Sands(0-1). Subs: Ciaran Connolly for Padraig McGurk, Christy Harkin(0-1) for Sean Rice.