Sports

St Vincent's Relinquish U-21 Football Title As Ferbane Maul Tullamore

Thursday, 9 February 2017

ST Vincent's lengthy reign as Offaly U-21 football champions came to an end on Friday night last when they were edged out by Durrow in a teak tough quarter-final tie under lights in Ballinamere.

The Daingean parish outfit, a combination of players from Ballycommon, Cappincur, Daingean and Kilclonfert, had provided one of the big good news stories in Offaly when winning the last three U-21 Football Championship titles in a row.

With a lot of those all conquering teams now overage, they were always going to find it hard to make it four in a row but they still missed an opportunity as they were edged out by 1-6 to 0-8 by Durrow.

Ahead by 1-5 to 0-5 at half time, thanks to a Kevin McDermott goal, Durrow struggled to contain St Vincent's in the second half and they could only manage one point, however, it proved to be enough to get them across the line.

Vincent's will wonder how they didn't force extra time. For a good twenty minutes plus in the second half, they enjoyed the lion's share of possession and laid siege to the home goal. However, a very hard working and tigerish Durrow defence restricted them to just three points, and with Sean Duignan kicking the crucial point near the end, they held on desperately for the win.

St Vincent's had more than enough play and chances. Shane Tierney, now a member of Pat Flanagan's Offaly senior football squad, missed some scoreable frees and St Vincent's had some other poor wides.

Durrow owed a debt of gratitude to their very resilient defence who really had to put their backs to the wall in the second half. Missing Dan Molloy and the suspended Jack Fogarty and with last year's county minor Micheal Mooney struggling to find full flow in difficult weather conditions, Durrow's work rate was exceptional.

Inside the closing quarter as they held on for dear life, they doubled teamed St Vincent's danger man, Shane Tierney and this meant that the champions' main chance of winning the game could not manufacture the scores they needed late on. St Vincent's sorely missed the presence of their midfielder, Cathal Mangan. The Kilclonfert man was on his way to Rome for a charity fundraiser for mental health and suicide prevention, though this was cancelled out by Dan Molloy's loss for the winners.

It was a very honest game, played with real intensity and with a lot of stoppages, and yellow cards shown by referee Ger Keyes (Shamrocks)

A first round game also took place on Friday night with Gracefield just getting the better of Na Fianna on a 3-10 to 2-11 scoreline. This game was controversial as Na Fianna lined out without Offaly senior football panelist, James Lalor. Lalor played at full back in Offaly's National Football League defeat by Longford and Na Fianna felt that pressure was put on him by Offaly management not to play.

Gracefield's reward is a home quarter-final against St Patrick's (Edenderry and Ballyfore).

Two other quarter-finals took place on Sunday and the big talking point here was the scale of the beating that a very talented Ferbane side handed to Tullamore. Despite a number of their side having played for Gallen Community School in their North Leinster Colleges senior B football final defeat by Dunshaughlin Community College on Saturday, Ferbane ran riot to win by 4-14 to 0-1.

Ferbane will now be favourites for this title and while they played exceptionally well, the result poses serious questions about Tullamore and how such a heavily populated town can ship such a beating at any level.

Clara did well to edge out St Manchan's Gaels by 3-8 to 1-11 in Pullough. Clara led by 1-4 to 1-3 at half time and the second half provided terrific entertainment as it went down to the wire. St Manchan's Gaels, a combination of players from Ballycumber, Doon, Erin Rovers and Tubber GAA Clubs, came back from four points down to level it up with time ticking away. Extra time looked certain until Luke Dignam popped up to score his second goal to send Clara into the semi-finals.

The draw for the semi-finals has not been made yet but they will be played on the weekend of March 4.

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