AIB (GB) Football League Div 1 Final
St Kiernans 3-10
NL Shamrocks 1-11
By Damian Dolan
St Kiernans retained the Division 1 league title with an entertaining victory over North London Shamrocks to ensure they didn’t finish 2017 emptyhanded.
James Callery, a late addition to the starting line up in place of Tom Waters, bagged two first half goals to send last year’s treble winners on their way, although they had to withstand a second half comeback from North London Shamrocks.
Having led by six points at the break, courtesy of James Callery’s two strikes, Kiernans saw their lead wiped out three minutes from time when Enda McHugh found the net.
Parity lasted less than a minute, however, and all credit to Kiernans who showed their quality by responding with 1-2 to secure victory and silverware.
Peter Finn’s touch to Adrian Moyles’ free nearly saw the ball nestle in the Shamrocks’ net in just the fourth minute.
It was a sign of the attacking intent, from both sides, which was to follow. Moyles showed his soccer skills to beat Vivian Brown, only to see his shot come back off the post, while Mark Mulholland created space for himself only to shoot straight at Brown.
Kiernans were getting on top and led 0-5 to 0-2, but they needed Brendan Mulrooney to be alert to palm away Ciaran Colleary’s effort.
Dualtach Molloy fired over a free, but Kiernans then launched a telling attack from deep inside their own half through Shane McManus and Moyles, which ended with James Callery finding the net.
The Shamrocks responded through Molloy (free) and the excellent Brian Harris, only for James Callery to finish off a nice move by beating Brown at his near post to make it 2-5 to 0-5.
But Shamrocks would end the half strongly to reduce the gap to just three points thanks to Molloy and Harris.
The third quarter was nip and tuck, with the sides sharing four points evenly between them. But they were clearly just catching their breath for the pulsating finish that was to come.
With four minutes to go, space opened up for Moyles and he had a great chance to put four points between them.
But the London forward went for goal only to see his sweet strike whistle past Brown’s left-hand post. Had it found the net, that surely would have been game over.
As it was, Shamrocks went straight down the other end and Stephen Hardogan fed McHugh to find the corner of Mulrooney’s goal.
It was all square, but only for a matter of moments as Kiernans showed the qualities which had taken them to a first-ever senior county final last year. James Callery immediately restored Kiernans’ lead, although Daryl Roberts then tested Mulrooney.
It was end-to-end stuff, and Michael Callery played in O’Donoghue to finish smartly past Brown to finally settle matters. Although both sides were short of numbers on the day, huge credit to Kiernans and Shamrocks for serving up a thoroughly entertaining climax to the Division 1 league campaign.
Neil O’Shea of sponsor AIB presented the Division 1 trophy to St Kiernans captain Patrick Begley.
ST KIERNANS: Brendan Mulrooney; Keith Curran, Ian McCough, Geff Kingston; Patrick Begley, Shane McManus, Danny Ryan; James Moran (0-1), Cathal og Greene; James Callery (2-3), Mark Mulholland (0-1), Michael Callery (0-2f); Adrian Moyles (0-3, 1f), Peter Finn, Michael O’Donoghue (1-0). SUBS: Tom Waters for Finn, Barney Shanahan for ODonoghue.
NL SHAMROCKS: Vivian Brown; Sean McTeenan, Kevin O’Brien, Peter Kelly; Ryan Burke, Brian Hynes, Dennis O’Regan; Eddie Kelly, Nial Costalloe; Stephen Hardogan (0-1), Brian Harris (0-3), Daryl Roberts; Dualtach Molloy (0-5, 4f), Enda McHugh (1-0), Ciaran Colleary (0-2). SUBS: Vinny Murphy for O’Regan.