St Michael's end 44 year wait for Cork U21A football championship success

St Michael's end 44 year wait for Cork U21A football championship success
St Michael's joint captains Tom Lenihan and Owen O'Sullivan raise the trophy after defeating Ballincollig in the Cork County under 21 A FC final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.Picture: Eddie O'Hare

St Michael’s 2-12

Ballincollig 1-11 

A magnificent St Michael’s performance saw them bridge a 44-year drought when they were crowned Cork U21 A football champions following a hard-earned win over Ballincollig at the Pairc Ui Chaoimh 4G pitch yesterday.

This final had everything from splendid fielding to pinpoint passing and over the hour not a cynical foul registered from two committed sides.

The Blackrock outfit got the perfect start just two minutes into the game when they raised the opening green flag.

Eoin O’Donovan won possession and in a terrific move he found Alan Connolly who drilled the ball to the corner of the net.

The outstanding Tadgh Deasy followed with a point but two minutes later Ballincollig responded with a superb Darren Murphy point.

Michael’s looked the sharper side going forward and a brace of Dave Hurley points gave them a five-point cushion in the tenth minute.

St Michael's players celebrate after defeating Ballincollig in the Cork County under 21 A FC final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.Picture: Eddie O'Hare
St Michael's players celebrate after defeating Ballincollig in the Cork County under 21 A FC final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Gradually the battling Ballincollig side responded and they were awarded a penalty in the 18th minute when Dave McCullagh was hauled down as he encroached on goal.

Up stepped Darren Murphy but his resultant penalty attempt was a tame effort and was easily parried to safety by the Michael’s keeper Cian Denn.

To be fair Ballincollig were now very much in the game but they were left off the hook when a Liam Grainger shot was superbly saved seven minutes before half time.

In the closing minutes Ballincollig were punished with late points from Adam Hennessy and Hurley as Michael’s went in at the break commanding a 1-5 to 0-4 lead.

On the very first possession Michael’s punished Ballincollig with a neat Deasy point and Tom Linehan added a second with a stunning solo run before calmly slotting the ball between the posts.

To be fair Ballincollig refused to wilt and a brace of Murphy points gave them a huge lift before they were exposed with a second Michael’s goal in the 38th minute.

Once again the sharpness of Connolly saw him guide the ball past the bemused Ballincollig keeper that stretched Michael’s lead to seven points.

Credit to Ballincollig they kept plugging away and substitute Steve Wills was only on the pitch six minutes when he took a fabulous pass from the excellent Luke Fahy before giving the Michael’s keeper no chance with a classy goal.

That goal gave Ballincollig a huge boost and three consecutive points reduced the deficit to two points with eight minutes remaining.

The maturity of the Michael’s squad was shown in the closing minutes as they found a way to close out this final.

St Michael's Eoin O'Donovan leads the players in celebrations after defeating Ballincollig in the Cork County under 21 A FC final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.Picture: Eddie O'Hare
St Michael's Eoin O'Donovan leads the players in celebrations after defeating Ballincollig in the Cork County under 21 A FC final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.Picture: Eddie O'Hare

In truth the difference between the teams was the quality of the Michael’s forwards as they looked a sextet capable of scoring at any given opportunity.

Credit to both teams for producing such a quality brand of football but in the end Michael’s were worthy winners against a Ballincollig side who left everything on the pitch.

Scorers for St Michael’s: A Connolly 2-0, T Deasy 0-4, D Hurley 0-4 (0-2f), R Cotter 0-2, A Hennessy, T Lenihan (0-1 each).

Ballincollig: D Murphy 0-7 (0-3f), S Wills 1-1,L Fahy, E Cooke, D Dorgan (0-1 each).

St Michael’s: C Dean; J Golden, E O’Sullivan, R Coleman; D Corkery, D Cormack, T Lenihan; B Cain, F Cronin; A Hennessy, T Deasy, L Grainger; D Hurley, E O’Donovan, R Cotter.

Subs: M O’Keeffe for F Cronin (40), R Cotter for T Lenihan (42), P Cunningham for D Corkery (55), E Sheehan for F Cronin (60).

Ballincollig: S Hogan; K Crowley, S O’Neill, K Spillane; F Denny, G O’Donoghue, R Bourke; L Fahy, J O’Leary; D McCullagh, E Cooke, E O’Reilly; K Walsh, F O’Donovan, D Murphy.

Subs: S Wills for J O’Leary (39), D Dorgan for F Denny (41), J O’Connor for F O’Donovan (46), J Murray for D McCullagh (53), C Twomey for K Spillane (60).

Referee: Conor lane (Banteer).

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