Incredible Night See U14′s Crowned Champions for First Time
Under 14 Division1 Championship
St Colmcilles 3-14 (23) V Skyrne 4-6 (18)
Pairc Tailteann was the scene of incredible joy as our Under 14′s won the clubs first ever Under 14 Championship amidst wild celebrations at the full time whistle. Last years historic first ever Feile Title was matched only last evening by the clubs first ever Under14 Championship . Such has been the success over the last two years its fair to say we are a club on the rise in Meath.
The match itself was as pulsating as the preview suggested. Having lost to Skyrne in both the last two Division 1 Finals this year, this was always going to be mouth watering contest. For St Colmcilles, the big question was if they learned any lessons from their previous two defeats to the boys from Tara. The match started with tactics taking centre stage. Nathan Garland , arguably the finest man marker in Meath at this level was given the job of curtailing the brilliant Jason Reddy who notched 0-8 in the Feile Final, seven of which were from play, whilst Ben Mooney was assigned the job of marking another Skyrne danger man in Darren Fox who was at centre half forward.
The early exchanges saw St Colmcilles power out of the blocks and raced into a four point to a no score lead courtesy of a Gerard McCartan point and 3 points from James Conlon, two of which were frees. Indeed the four point lead should have been 7 points after 10 minutes when a wonderful slipped ball from James McElearney to James Conlon saw the “Banty” race clear and with only the keeper to beat, indecision on wheter to shoot or go around the keeper led to him doing neither and gone went the chance of the all important goal. And what a costly miss it turned out to be because with that Skyrne upped their game and replied with their opening score courtesy of Darren Fox after he was put through by Paddy Carpenter. Minutes later the same two combined again only this time Fox fed Carpenter and he whilst through on goal supplied an ice cool finish to the back of the St Colmcilles net to level up the game.
The gamble of taking Garland of Fox and having him on young Jason Reddy was now looking like back firing as while Jason Reddy was being out played by Garland, Darren Fox and Paddy Carpenter influence began to grow. Grow it did after 20 minutes when Skyrne went two clear with points from play, from both Fox and Carpenter. A two point game soon became a 5 point game when again Fox released Carpenter and he rocketed the ball to the roof of the net for his second goal of the game. Skyrne now looked like overwhelming St Colmcilles and two more scores, one from a free from Jason Reddy and another from play from the dangerous Fox saw Skyrne 7 points clear.
A fine score from Conor O’ Byrne saw the deficit reduced to 6 but again some wonderful play from Darren Fox saw him release Colm Doherty and he got in on goal and fired low to the St Colmcilles net to incredibly put 9 points between the sides. With minutes to go to half time James Conlon reduced the margin to two points from two frees to leave 7 points between the sides at the break on a scoreline of St Colmcilles 0-7 to Skyrne 3-5.
If the first half was pulsating then the second was a real nail biting affair. St Colmcilles playing into the town end goal needed to get of to a bright start if we were to have a chance. Interestingly young Jason Reddy seemed worst for wear after a challenge at the end of the first half with Nathan Garland and up to this point his influence was largely minimal. St Colmcilles did get off to a dream start. James Conlon opened the scoring with a free to reduce the margin to 6 points before Michael McCartan grabbed a crucial goal after good work from Daragh Brodigan to reduce the margin to 3 points.
The deficit looked more promising now but class is permanent and up stepped Skyrnes danger man 10 minutes into the second half and after being released with a wonderful pass from Darren Fox, young Reddy glided across the Pairc Tailteann turf and as cool as you like slotted the ball past Andrew Beakey in the St Colmcilles goal to restore the 6 point margin. For the neutral this was great football. St Colmcilles however reacted by putting James McAlearney back in front of the Skyrne full forward line as sweeper and with that the game turned on its head. First Gerard McCartan toe poked a breaking ball to the back of the Skyrne net after a long ball from Nathan Garland who was now out at centre half back on Darren Fox. Two further frees from James Conlon and a wonderful score from play from Conor O’Byrne all of a sudden had the game level.
With 8 minutes to go Jason Reddy kicked another wonderful point to restore a 1 point lead after good work from Franky Carty. However Nathan Garland and Daragh Brodigan were dominant figures now as the Tara boys began to show signs of real tiredness. James Conlon levelled up the match with a wonderful score from play before Conor O’ Byrne put St Colmcilles ahead for the first time since the start of the match with 4 minutes left. Daragh Brodigan then increased the lead to two points with 1 minute of normal time left. It was a dangerous lead as Skyrne tried desperately to find and isolate young Jason Reddy to grab the score to win it. However in their attempts at attacking they got caught on the counter and a long ball from the brillant Garland saw it break once more inside the Skyrne 14 yard line. Fiachra Finnegan the Skynre goalkeeper came for the breaking ball and missed it completely and Michael McCartan was left with a simple finish to the back of the Skyrne net to increase the lead to 5 points as supporters and mentors sensed the winning line.
Minutes later the referee Patrick Coyle blew the final whistle as St Colmcilles celebrated their first ever Under 14 Division 1 Championship Title. This was a wonderful match. Skyrne have some great players. Darren Fox and Paddy Carpenter were rampant in the first half and caused St Colmcilles all sorts of problems whilst Jason Reddy although kept quiet for large parts of the game by Nathan Garland was always dangerous and still scored 1-2.
However there can only be one winner and on the night, as a squad every player battled from start to finish and played some great football as well. There was some notably performances. Eanna Walsh was outstanding at wing half back whilst Eoin Sweney was solid at full back. At midfield Daragh Brodigan and James Conlon were giants on the night with some wonderful movement and industry throughout. Up front the McCartan brothers caught the eye with their eye for goals and great approach play, whilst Conor O’ Byrne and James McElearney showed their experience when it mattered with the former grabbing two crucial scores with minutes to go.
However man of the match has to go to Nathan Noone Garland . It was a brave call to move Garland of Darren Fox and onto Jason Reddy from the start but in the first half he completely nullified the best forward in Meath Under 14 football with a master class in man marking. Indeed one would argue then it was a even braver decision to move him onto Darren Fox in the second half when we employed a sweeper. Again Nathan Garland stepped up to the plate and not only nullified the threat of Darren Fox completely but was a major influence going forward and winning ball around midfield.
In what was an incredible team performance to come back from 9 points down at one stage, the magic of Garland was to the fore from start to finish and he put in a man marking performance that will go down as one the finest at Under 14 in many a year. Congratulations to all the players, mentors and parents involved in what was wonderful night for football in St Colmcilles
Team:1. Andrew Beakey, 2.Jack Phelan, 3.Eoin Sweeney, 4.Calem Martin, 5.Shane Towey, 6. Ben Mooney, 7. Eanna Walsh, 8.Darragh Brodigan (0-1), 9.James Conlon (0-9 , 5frees), 10.Jeff Kavanagh, 11.Nathan Noone Garland, 12.Gerard McCartan (1-1), 13.James McElearney,14.Conor O’Byrne (0-3), 15.Michael McCartan (2-0). Subs: 16. Declan Ryan, 17.Leo Gray, 18. Daragh Magee, 19.Jack Bohan, 20.Sean Power, 21.Josh Coleman, 22.Shane O’Connor