By Adam Shaw
NL Shamrocks 1-08
St Kiernan’s 1-08
Scott Conroy scored a late free as North London Shamrocks gained a hard fought draw against St Kiernan’s at Ruislip. Adrian Moyles kicked six first-half points for Kiernan’s but it wasn’t enough as they struggled to fully assert their dominance as the match went on.
Despite leading by three points at one stage, they couldn’t shake their opponents off, and Shamrocks were ultimately rewarded for their perseverance.
And they almost stole the win in the final minute when Eddie Kelly capitalised on a mistake from Austin Kelly but he planted his shot just wide of the posts.
North London had the better of the opening exchanges, with Aiden Campbell and PP O’Hara scoring points early on. Moyles responded with two frees, the second a contentious decision but the Shamrocks’ protests did little to put the right half forward off. Having got back on level terms, St Kiernan’s let their guard down, allowing Conroy to lose his marker and fire a fine effort into the top left-hand corner of the goal.
Kiernan’s responded well, however, and a flowing move down the right-hand side involving Mark Mulholland and Liam Donoghue saw the latter slot home from a few yards out. They consolidated this goal with some extended pressure, drawing Shamrocks into a number of fouls and presenting Moyles with the opportunity to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
He landed two further frees, the first an excellent score from the right-hand touchline, and a ‘45’ to put his side three points ahead. Conroy added a free of his own from in front of the posts before O’Hara brought Shamrocks to within one point.
Moyles restored Kiernan’s two point lead on the stroke of half-time, his free from the 45-metre line just creeping over the bar. The second-half began in an ill-tempered manner, with both sides clearly feeling the tension of being involved in such a close game.
O’Hara and Cathar O’Greene were shown yellow cards for late challenges before Shamrocks reduced the deficit midway through the half. As the match went on, the number of mistakes increased, as both sides missed simple points and struggled to put the finishing touches on their attacks.
Moyles, who had been so deadly in the opening period, seemed to have lost his magic touch as he failed to convert a couple of frees. But Austin Kelly took up the mantle and added a point with ten minutes left to play, calming some of the nerves on Kiernan’s bench. Shamrocks refused to let them get away, however, and two quick points from O’Hara levelled the scores.
A fantastic strike from Shane McManus – using his quick feet to gain a yard of space before fading the ball in from the left – looked to have won it for Kiernan’s but ill discipline ultimately cost them late on. A strong run from Peter McNelis led to the foul and Conroy stepped forward to land the free from 20 metres out.
The men in green almost nicked the win when Austin Kelly rushed a quick free with seconds left to play. The ball was blocked and ran through to Eddie Kelly who found himself with some time and space. His shot was slightly offtarget, however, and his namesake breathed a sigh of relief before the referee blew for full-time.