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Barrow Gaels U14s Through to League Final

posted 22 Jun 2014, 09:30 by Andy W   [ updated 23 Jun 2014, 16:00 ]
By Declan McGrath

Sunday, 22nd June at More O'Ferrall Park, Kildangan. 

Over the past week or so, many of us will have sat through an hour and a half of lacklustre ‘tippy tappy’ World Cup games, played by some of the world’s most famous stars. By the end of it, one team might have managed a 1-0 win and the pundits would then have spent another hour and a half analysing the goal.

Now we’ll move on to what happened at More O’Ferrall Park on Sunday morning. Two teams of Gaelic footballers, ranging in age from 11 to 14, played for an hour and, between them, managed to score a total of 9 goals and 23 points! There were no cameras, no pundits and definitely no pay cheques. It was two teams going out and playing their hearts out for their respective clubs. And the prize – a place in the under 14 Division 4 League Final to be played in the county grounds in Newbridge next Saturday morning.

It was a blistering hot morning and the pitch in Kildangan was looking spectacular. The Grange lads showed their intent by arriving early and going through a vigorous warm up. Having lost by a single point to the Gaels in the first round of the League, they were determined to exact revenge. They opened well and had four points on the board before the home side sprung to life. A brace of points for the Gaels was followed by a goal after a scramble in the square (which about five players have claimed) Gaels corner forward Larry Adaise then showed wonderful pace as he ended a weaving run to score a great goal and the same player followed with another a few minutes later. The visitors managed a couple of points in between but found themselves 3.4 to 0.6 down having not done too much wrong.

The pendulum then swung their way as they hit 1.3 to leave the minimum between the sides but Joe Brennan and Robert McGrath pointed for the home side to put their lead at three. As we entered the third minute of ‘injury’ time (and I honestly can’t remember any injuries) the visitors ended a sweeping move with a great goal to leave it level at half time at 3-6 to 2-9.

A full ten minutes of end to end action failed to yield a score for either side as both defences showed their steel. Eoin O’Fearghail and Oran Phelan were outstanding for the home side as they seemed to clear everything that came inside the 45 metre line. A Joe Brennan goal set the Gaels on their way again before the same player and Robert McGrath both pointed to put their team five ahead as we entered the final quarter. But the aforementioned pendulum was about to go into overdrive as the
morning sun seemed to energise the limbs rather than drain them. Two long range points brought the visitors back into it again but once more the Gaels responded and three points followed by a Joe Brennan goal to go 5-11 to 2-11 in front.

Just as we dared to think that we might have it won, Grange showed their spirit once again. A Barrow Gaels attack up the line was intercepted and a goal resulted from the counter attack. Grange won the kick out and raced in for their fourth goal to now leave it 5-11 to 4-11 as we again entered the dreaded ‘injury’ time (and I don’t remember any in the second half either). Anyone coming out of 11 o’clock Mass in Kildangan must have been wondering what in the name of God was going on in the pitch because the players were even struggling to hear their mentors due to the noise of the crowd.

Grange attacked in the hope of a levelling goal but couldn’t find a way past the Gaels full back line where Oisin Boylan and Eoin O’Fearghail were holding their positions like a pair of outnumbered gun slingers in a shoot out. One final Gaels attack saw midfielder Robert McGrath storm forward only to be hauled to the ground as he crossed the 45 metre line and Dylan Roycroft fired over the resulting free to put his team four ahead and make the game safe.

There was no final whistle on the kick out and the referee signalled another minute to play. The weary legs dragged up and down the field as the hearts pumped and the sweat dripped - and that was just us on the sideline! Grange pressed forward again but just couldn’t get through and finally, yes finally, the referee blew the final whistle to sound a 5-12 to 4-11 win for Barrow Gaels.

This was an absorbing encounter from beginning to end and both sides deserve the greatest of respect and credit for serving up such a wonderful game of football. When it was all over I abandoned the diet and went to Stan’s for a ’99 to lower my temperature and soothe my throat. It seemed most of the Grange lads had the same idea. After that it was home to watch Belgium beat Russia – and the score – one nil!

The final will be played in St. Conleths Park, Newbridge on Saturday morning (28th July) at 10.30am where we will play the winners of Castledermot and Raheens who play their semi-final on Monday evening. Please come along and support the team who have done so well to reach this stage of the competition.