A double weekend of championship finals in London saw two new cup-holders in Greenford at the weekend. Neasden Gaels will contest in the senior championship next year after beating Harlesden Harps by two points. And Tara bounced straight back out of the junior championship after a hard fought win over Tir Chonaill Gaels, after going down to 14 men in the first half.
Toureen Group Junior Football Championship Final
Tara came back from a two-point deficit and red card at half time to go straight back up into the intermediate division with a three-point win over Tir Chonaill Gaels at the weekend. The thrilling encounter, which saw six goals, was close throughout, and Tara only managed the win after slotting home a decisive penalty with the last score of the game.
After five minutes Tir Chonaill Gaels had a one point advantage at 0-2 to 0- 1, and by 17 minutes had stretched the lead to a further two before Taras netted the first goal to equalise. The first half would finish with just the one goal, before the floodgates opened after the break, and playing against 14 men and with a 0-7 to 1-2 lead the Gaels would have fancied their chances come the end of the 70 minutes.
But penalties against them took their toll, with Gavin McEvoy saving the first attempt but conceding the next two, most tellingly the last score of the game when the sides were level.
Tara started the second half solidly, as they took their points up until the 41th minute to register a 1- 5 to 0-7 lead as they held the Gaels pointless for the first 11 minutes of the half. But on 44 minutes Tir Chonaill Gaels slotted home their first goal through Ryan Elliott, but they conceded a threepointer to Tara just a minute later, making the score 2-6 to 1-8.
By 53 minutes Tara were four points up at 3-7 to 1-9 before Elliott scored his second goal of the game and Kieran Clarke kicked over to equalise with just one minute of normal time to play. They would go ahead a minute into injury time before Tara quickly equalised with their own point, but it was the third and final penalty which sunk Paul Coggins’ men on their quest to rise out of junior football.
VGC Intermediate Football Championship Final
Neasden Gaels: 1-11
Harlesden Harps: 2-06
Neasden Gaels are back in the Senior Championship after a two-point final win over north west London rivals Harlesden Harps. Despite the close scoreline Harlesden Harps never reached the intensity that they have shown throughout the championship they showed they are capable of throughout the championship and Neasden were never stretched too far by them. Albeit they gave them work to do with two goals against the run of play, but both times they did not have much to do to stay ahead once they had clawed back at the deficit.
Neasden started in attacking fashion as Ryan O’Hare put a high ball into Conor Byrne who managed to glance a shot at goal to test the prowess of Eamon Mylottle between the posts. But it was Harlesden who opened the scoring as Clive Mills recycled his earlier short attempt on goal to get the first point on the board. But Neasden equalised within a minute through John McGauley who got his shot away quickly under pressure from Robert Reid. Harlesden would take a goal next as Darren Lynch slotted home a penalty that was won after an infringement from his earlier short free into the square.
Neasden dominated possession for the period after this and got the ball rolling first with a Conor Byrne pointed free. The next chance saw O’Hare unlucky not to score as he shot bounced off the posts, and Lynch’s next powerful run down the field, seeing off challenges from James Mannion, resulted in a wide shot.
They pulled one back through Conor Doran’s next free and soon after Frank Kane scored amongst bodies in midfield to level the scores after 21 minutes of play. Tadgh Downey regained the lead soon after as his low but powerful shot was carried over the bar by Niall O’Carroll, before the sides were level again through Conor Doran who shook off some gutsy challenges from Ben O’Mahoney for an impressive point. Neasden, who were playing up the hill in the first period, would go ahead for the first time in the match with the last kick of the half through Conor Byrne’s free, which was brought forward by the referee after Harlesden players were calling the ball ‘wide’ before he had even stepped up to take his kick. Neasden extended their lead straight away with a Conor Doran point, and four minutes later they went three in front as Conor Doran set up Ryan O’Hare for his next point, leaving it 0-8 to 1-2.
But Harlesden used their natural quality to bounce back and a sublime pass from Sarren Lynch set James O’Donovan free on goal before being fouled, as Lynch scored the resultant free.Daniel Somers scored the next from Harlesden from the right wing to bring the deficit down to just one point as his team went on to take the lead with the next play. John Rafferty got a goal from nearly nowhere as his run through the centre of the park wasn’t picked up by anyone on the Neasden side, and with ease he placed his shot into the back of O’Carroll’s net. They were now ahead by two points.
At this stage, after 40 minutes, both sides seemed like they had yet to settle in a slightly underwhelming match compared to the thrilling curtain raiser semi-finals they had come through weeks previously. Harlesden started to play better now as Ashley O’Halloran did brilliantly to make a great interception on the half-way line and laid off to Mills, who just put his shot wide. But they would extend their lead again soon afterwards as Mills took the challenge from his defender before passing to Ciaran Houlihan who slotted home a point off the posts.
On 46 minutes Neasden surmounted their comeback, first through Conor Doran as he was set up by O’Hare on the full-forward line to leave it 2-5 to 0-9. They equalised soon afterwards, first through a O’Hare free and then through the ever-dangerous Conor Doran from play. With less than two minutes of extra time Neasden took the lead once more through a goal which was just too much for Harlesden to come back from with so little time left to play. Dara King claimed the ball in midfield and passed out left to O’Hare who kicked it low and in off of the far post.
Harlesden hadn’t finished trying to claim the cup though, and made an onslaught on O’Carroll’s goal, but James O’Donovan’s last minute attempt was swiftly saved by the keeper. Ronan MaGee would narrow the gap slightly with a dropping ball in to the square which ended up carrying over in the wind for a point, but two more wides in injury time meant that it was Neasden who walked away as worthy winners, with the bulk of play and possession over the course of the 70 minutes.