In a repeat of the 2019 Junior 1 Club Championship Final, the St Brendan’s Football 1st XV, sponsored by Dynamic Safety Solutions, came face to face with Craobh Chairáin in the 2023 renewal of the Go Ahead Junior 1 Club championship. Once again like last Friday, St Brendan’s had to turn their jersey’s inside out and it was a nightmare for this writer to determine who was which number, so Masita, if you are reading this, put numbers in the inside of the jerseys, as well as outside, in the future.
Five minutes were gone in the first half and a turnover from Franklin ‘Kepa’ O’Reilly found Liam ‘Oisin Mullin’ Atkinson, then onto Diarmuid Condron and finally Cillian Morrisson and The return Of The Mack judged the wind perfectly for the opening score for The Dark Force. Craobh soon equalized afterwards.
Ger Bannon won Mr Twitter Eoghan Clogher’s kick out. Who passed to Kevin ‘76’ Barry and played a kick pass to Oisin ‘The Ghost in Reverse’ O‘Boyle who won the Advance Mark, composed himself and kicked over the bar for point number 2.
Then disaster struck, when a long Croabh ball took a fluky bounce which bamboozled Clogher and ended in the net in a goal similar to that scored by Wim Kieft for Holland against Ireland in Euro 88.
But St Brendan’s responded quite well with a free in from John Burns after a foul on Niall McManus. The Longford Leader repeated the trick after 19 minutes with another off the ground free in to make it 0-4 to 1-2,this time Diarmuid Condron won this free.
Ger Bannon saw a goal chance saved by the goalkeeper. Craobh then pointed a free in. John Burns complained to the referee about not booking his marker after a reckless foul, after being told to shut it and get on with the game by the referee, Burns shot wide.
Craobh had a shot in first half injury time and had just started celebrating the point, when the ball went wide. Clogher’s kick out was the last action of the half.
The Hungry Boba Pizzaeira half time score St Brendan’s 0-4 Craobh Chairáin 1-4.
It took 7 minutes to produce the first score of the second half and it was O’Boyle to deliver from a free in after provoking his marker to pick the ball off the ground. Kevin Berry won the kick out with a Mark, passed to Morrison but his shot was adjudged to have gone wide despite protestations that it went over.
Craobh pegged a point back. Morrison hit a delicate short range free in after Liam ‘Oisin Mullin’ Atkinson was pushed after disposing of the ball.
An initial O’Boyle goal bound shot was saved and cleared but only as far as Ger Bannon to passed to Nicky McCafferty and finally to O’Boyle who made amends with a point, but Craobh hit a free in to ensure a three point lead 1-7 to 0-7 with 11 minutes to go.
Craobh hit a rather soft free in to increase the lead to 4, but not for long, because Cillian Morrison hit a good point after McCafferty won possession after a scramble, O'Boyle then saw a shot go wide in the greasy underfoot conditions which could be crucial if scoring different comes into being.
Martin Ryan put on Brendan Brogan in place of Niall McManus and it proved a masterstroke substitution because The Curry Shoeman made it 0-9 following good work from Conall ‘The Golden Mullet’ Horgan and Darragh ‘Takenits’ Toal.
Any chance of a last chance smash and grab goal for St Brendan’s was cruelly denied when the referee only played one minute of injury time, much to the players annoyance and to the delight of the Craobh players who celebrated this win as diligently as their 2019 County Final triumph. For St Brendan’s, victory in Howth in two weeks time against Beann Eidair is a must to progress to the Championship Quarter-Finals.
Final score from Longmeadows: St Brendan’s 0-9 Craobh Chairáin 1-8.