Crosserlough claim U20 crown on spot kicks

U20 Division 2 Football Championship semi-final

Crosserlough 3-11

Knockbride 3-11

Crosserlough win 4-2 on pens AET

The first game of 2023 was the last game of the 2022 season and it brought a large festive-filled crowd to Virginia and stretched the entertainment out to the very last. Both sides came up with spectacular scores at the death of ordinary and extra time to keep in the race. Oran Rehill sailed over a point from 45 metres three minutes into injury-time to force extra time and when Knockbride needed a miracle four minutes into injury-time at the end of the second half of extra-time, Lorcan Reilly blasted a goal to send the game to penalties.

The first quarter was a slow burner with the only scores coming from a free kick at either end by Oran Rehill and Lorcan Reilly. Dylan Harten gave Crosserlough the lead before Knockbride almost bagged a major. A Crosserlough short kick-out was turned over but Cian Donohoe’s effort went left of the target.

With the following restart Crosserlough attacked and Rehill split the posts, leaving his side two to the good. The leaders were dealt a blow when Kieran Smith was shown a black card by referee Margaret Farrelly on the 16th minute but they continued to push on when Caolán Collins pointed a minute later.

A free from Lorcan Reilly turned momentum in Knockbride’s favour followed by a super Liam Fay point from the left corner. With the minimum between the sides, Crosserlough’s Harry Boylan gathered an early ball with his back to the goal and turned to curl over on his right foot.

With half-time approaching, Knockbride, kicking into the lake end, hit a run of wides but on the 30th minute a driving run by Micheál Smith saw him raise a white flag. A third Lorcan Reilly free looked like it was going to send the sides in level at the break but when Rehill won the ball and Harry Boylan jetted by him before hitting the net, Crosserlough were delighted to take a three-point lead into half-time.

With a kick of a ball and no more between the sides in the first half, another kick by Crosserlough after two minutes had them somehow six ahead. Caolan Collins did really well to force a turn-over and after the early ball was sent to Oran Rehill, he held it up long enough to allow Collins to break to the square and palm the ball to the back of the net.

Crosserlough team captain Ryan Stuart receives the U20 Division 2 Championship cup from Mark O'Rourke, vice-chairman of Cavan county board.

Knockbride, for the next 10 minutes, absorbed a lot of pressure but managed to hold strong before a brilliant long-range Micheál Smith point started their come back. The balance of play was beginning to turn and it took a full-length diving block from Ryan Stuart on Conor Shanley’s goal attempt keep Knockbride at bay.

On the 16th minute of the half, a point by Lorcan Reilly left four between the sides and he then turned provider for their first goal. Substitute Niall O’Reilly got on the end of the pass and clinically placed the ball to the back of the Crosserlough net.

With their tails up, Knockbride won the kick-out and with the ball in the hands of Lorcan Reilly, he played it into the path of Liam Fay who had to shoot fast to beat the advancing Byrd and raise a second green flag in less than 30 seconds.

Crosserlough, finding themselves two points behind, needed to reply and another Rehill free was just the tonic as the final 10 minutes began. With the game flowing from end to end, the scoreboard remained the same, mainly thanks to three vital saves by Byrd in the Crosserlough goal.

Knockbride had one hand on the cup with two minutes remaining when Micheál Smith was fouled and Lorcan Reilly converted from 40 metres. A minute into injury time, Kieran Smith was fouled and Rehill left just one between the sides with the free. Crosserlough stepped forward for the kick-out and once the ball was won, Rehill came looking and after placing his left foot on the 45-metre line, he sailed the ball over the bar forcing extra-time.

The first half of extra-time saw Niall O’Reilly give Knockbride the lead but Rehill’s sixth point cancelled it out. Liam Fay gave Knockbride a single-point lead at the break with a punted effort after eight minutes.

A minute into the final ten, in a move straight off the training pitch, Kieran Smith gathered the ball from a kick pass with his back to the goal. Rehill repeated Harry Boylan’s run that lead to the game’s first goal and once he had the ball in hand with momentum, a major was the only outcome.

Like a zombie, Knockbride refused to die and Lorcan Reilly sent over another free after Niall O’Reilly was fouled. Crosserlough looked to have the legs and the composure to sprint for the finish line as Ryan Stuart showed leadership to point with four minutes remaining.

With a minute of injury time played, Rehill and Kieran Smith combined to set up Matthew Costello for what looked like an insurance point that wasn’t going to be needed. With the clock reading 13 minutes and 40 seconds, the zombie struck again. Knockbride were awarded a 20-metre free. With all Crosserlough players back on the line, Lorcan Reilly stepped up and blasted high and left. The power of the shot was greater than the power of the arm trying to stop it and the ball hit the net, forcing penalties.

Oran Rehill was first up and he converted low to Barry Cahill’s right. Niall O’Reilly went to the same spot to beat Thomas Byrd. Harry Boylan and Lorcan Reilly both made no mistake with their spot-kicks, as did Michael Donohoe. Next up was Evan McKeown for Knockbride; his shot was saved by Byrd.

When Matthew Costello hit the net with Crosserlough’s fourth it meant Ben Mulvey had to score but his effort was a couple of inches too high and hit the crossbar.

Crosserlough: Thomas Byrd, Caolan Collins(1-1), Diarmuid Lee, Kieran Smith, Fionn Lovett, Garett Boylan, Ryan Stuart(0-1), Matthew Costello(0-1), Dylan Harten(0-1), Harry Boylan(1-1), Padraig Shalvey, Michael Donohoe, Oran Rehill(1-6,4f)

Subs: Carl Stuart, Ronan Harten, Ben Cowell, Cian Harten. Adam Hoare, Michael Corr, Oran Gaffney, Jimmy Joyce, Eoin Malocca, Dylan Boylan, Terry Brady, Conor McEnerney, Cian McGivney.

Knockbride: Barry Cahill, Kyle McCabe, Kenzie McCabe, Micheál Smith(0-2), Fergal Smith, Luke Carolan, Liam Fay(1-2), Ben Mulvey, Gavin Smith, Lorcan Reilly, Glen Clarke, Cian Donohoe, Pauric McCusker.

Subs used: Niall O’Reilly(1-1), Mark Cassidy, Conor Shanley, Jamie Shanley, Darren Clarke, Oran Smith, Evan McKeown. Alan Murray.