Kilmeena 4 - 17 6 - 09 Achill
Match report below by Michael O'Grady
More match images here courtesy of Kevin Barrett
Having overcome Eastern Gaels in Extra Time two weeks ago, Kilmeena faced Achill in the C-final.
The game was played in McHale Park, with a throw-in time of 7pm.
This match had just about everything – 10 goals, brilliant fielding and great scores mixed in with errors and missed opportunities for both sides, invisible pitch markings, extra time, heroic efforts from every player on the pitch, with little to separate the teams at the small, big and final whistles – breathless.
Achill got off to a great start. Using their physicality in the middle they delivered ball into their lively forwards and the Achill men amassed 2 – 02 in the first ten minutes of the opening half. In this period, Kilmeena were struggling to obtain/maintain possession and create/convert scores.
With Kilmeena now 8 points adrift, management made a strategic substitution. Chris McGlynn – marking his return to competitive action for the first time in 11 months following injury and surgery in late 2018 – was deployed (12th minute) to mid-field; to counter Achill’s strength in this area. Jack Mulchrone made way and Ciarán Kilcoyne moved to the half forward line.
Kilmeena now began to enjoy greater possession in the mid-field sector and by the 20th minute, the sides were level.
Cillian O’Grady scored a goal from open play but the ref adjudged that Cillian had been fouled in the process and instead awarded a penalty – this was converted by Chris McGlynn. Chris McGlynn then scored a second goal and together with a converted free and a point from play, the men in black and white had matched Achill’s 2 – 02.
The remainder of the first half produced 3 more green flags – two for Achill and one for Kilmeena (scored by Ciarán Kilcoyne), together with a few points, to give a half time score that had as many goals as points (7); leaving Achill with a 2 point advantage at the small whistle.
Half time score: Kilmeena; 3 – 4 Achill; 4 - 3
Kilmeena put in a gritty third quarter to put them in a good position going down the home straight. However, Achill continued to chip away and with just two minutes of normal time left on the clock and Achill 2 points adrift, the Islanders were awarded a (somewhat dubious) ‘45’. The resulting 45 metre free was kicked into the Kilmeena goalmouth area and flicked in over the goalie’s reach to rattle the back of the Kilmeena net. Suddenly normal time was up and Kilmeena found themselves one point down.
However, as they had done previously in the semi-final, Kilmeena went frantically in search of the equaliser. The ball was delivered in the direction of the Achill goals but the opportunity to level was missed (time ticking). Achill re-started and Kilmeena turned possession over and worked the ball back up the field again and after what seemed an eternity, Ben Lennon (briefly drifting out of defence) got on the end of a pass and popped the ball over the bar for the equaliser.
The ref blew the whistle and at the end of normal time in a pulsating 60 minutes of football, the sides couldn’t be separated.
Score at the end of normal time: Kilmeena; 4 – 11 Achill; 5 – 08
So, extra time it would be then.
Playing into the wind for the first 10 minutes of Extra time, Kilmeena took control of the midfield sector; providing a good supply of primary possession, which facilitated a return of 5 points on the trot for the men in Black and White.
At the start of the second period of extra time, Achill made a tactical change – their goalie coming out field - which swung the height/physicality aspect of the contest back in the Islanders favour. And now Kilmeena were once again under pressure. A goal and a point followed for Achill and coming into the dying minutes, Kilmeena were hanging on to a mere one point advantage.
To their credit, the men in Black & White steadied the ship, won some possession and worked the ball forward. At the end of the move was ‘steady’ Daniel O’Malley (who came on for Jack Walsh) and he pointed to give Kilmeena a 2 point cushion.
Seconds later the referee’s whistle sounded – for what would be the last time in this enthralling contest.
And VICTORY for KILMEENA
Fantastic achievement and well done to the lads.
The panel present this evening comprised of the following:
Oisin Grimley (joint Capt.), Cillian O’Grady, Sean Prenty, Chris McGlynn (joint Capt.), Ben Lennon, Jack Walsh, Daniel O’Malley, Rory Nolan, Ciarán Kilcoyne, Evan O’Donnell, Harry Sheridan, Colin Hastings, Conal Gill, Darragh Slattery, Liam Moore, Brian Durkan, Jack Mulchrone, Adam O’Grady, Finley Gibbons, Conor Feehan, Sean Gallagher, Cormac Feehan.