Football Championship

2008 Junior Championship Final Replay – Sunday 26th October

Cúchulainns 2.08 Garryowen 2.06

One week on agus táimid anseo arís isteach i bPáirc Na Emerald, Contae Londain. Which team could get themselves up again for the challenge ahead was the question being asked as the teams took to the pitch for part two of this saga.

The same ref as last week calls the players together and the game is on. Unlike last week the Cuchulainns get the better start and within a couple of minutes put the first score on the board courtesy of one of our tyrone contingent Chris Eastwood, followed 5 minutes later by a free from ‘veteran’ kerryman DJ Bradley.

A good start from the red and whites was soon to get much better when a high, lobbing, dropping ball from Chris Eastwood deceived the cúil báire of the Garryowen and went straight into the top corner. 1-02 to no score!

As the first half continued the Cuchulainns continued to dominate, there was be no let up in the chase for the championship! Great play from the every man from one to fifteen meant that possession was nigh on impossible for the Garryowen to obtain in the first 30 minutes, and soon the Cuchulainns were to make things worse for the Garryowen as further points from the cork dynamo Jack Cott, and tir eoghan’s Eddie McGuigan and Chris Eastwood made the score 1-06 to no score.

A point just before the break was to be Garryowen’s only score of the first half to leave the half time score: Cuchulainns 1-06 Garryowen 0-01. Surely it would be an easy walk to the title from here?

Confidence was high as the throw-in went up for an dara leath. However, the Garryowen aided by a stiff breeze in their favour in this half were to finally get into their stride and early on narrowed the gap with a nice point from play from their centre forward.

Now the tables were beginning to turn, gaining possession suddenly became difficult for the men in red to acquire and some good play from the Garryowen got the ball out to their wing forward who struck a high ball forward towards goal – and just as it seemed the keeper had it covered the swirling breeze and the oncoming full forward got a hand to it and the ball somehow bounced tamely into the net – Cúl for Garryowen!

This seemed to change the entire complexion of the game with Garryowen now controlling play and panic setting into the Cuchulainns game. The combination of missed chances from Cuchulainns and good finishing from Garryowen narrowed the gap even further. Cuchulainns did manage to put two further points onto our tally from Chris Eastwood & DJ Bradley. However, disaster struck as a second goal for Garryowen cut the gap to just one point leaving the score at 1-08 to 2-04 with just 10 minutes remaining.

A few minutes later and a jubilant Garryowen bench jumped to their feet to celebrate the equalising point. Were we about the blow the title? Was the belief still there? We were now in the last 5 minutes and Cuchulainns were securing some good possession but the final strike at goal was lacking and the sides remained level.

Then with just one minute on the clock, a pass goes astray in the Cuchulainns full back line and ends up in the hands of the Garryowen corner forward whose subsequent strike seemed to have sunk the red & white – Garryowen were now celebrating a famous comeback victory, but was there to be a final twist.

Well, as Mícháel would say, it aint over till daniel o’donnell sings! Both benches were on their feet now shouting words of encouragement (and the odd choice word here and there) as we entered the final few seconds of the match – but surely time was up now?

Then suddenly the effervescent Jack Cott gathers the ball on the half back line, he bursts forward, leaving their big No. 14 trailing in his wake, he’s on the seventy, still going, he’s on the fifty, still going, and then it happens as Jack pumps the ball high into the full forward line, she hung in the air, but the big man was there, the Bomber Bradley climbs into the parallelogram and gets his fist to the ball before both full back and keeper and the liathroid swells the back of the Garryowen net – Cúl do Cúchulainns, Cúl ana mhaith ar fad! The subs and management are all on the pitch, they think it’s all over, well it wasn’t, there was still a couple of nervous injury time minutes to survive but finally the ref blows the final whistle and the wait was over. Cuchulainns are the London Junior Football Champions and the celebrations begin! Congratulations one and all!

Bhí an áthas ag an captaen Daire an corann a glacagh don foireann Cúchulainn!

Team and Scorers: Brian Lavell, Paul Cahill, Steven Jordan, Kieran Wyne, Padraig Harrington, Jack Cott (0-1), Niall Fallon, Fiachra McLoughlin, Daire Gilmore, Mike Dennehy, Aimar Barrett, Chris Eastwood (1-3), Eddie McGuigan (0-1), DJ Bradley (1-3), Ollie Neary.
Subs: Cathal Murtagh, John Byrne, Gerry Commane, Mike Harrington, Pauric Biggane, Gerard McClinton, Eddie Naughton, Pat O’Connor, John Murray, James Stones.

Man of the Match: Jack Cott

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Cúchulainns v Garryowen [2008 Junior C’ship Final]

by Cu Chulainns on October 19, 2008

2008 Junior Championship Final – Sunday 19th October 2008

Cúchulainns 0.09 Garryowen 2.03

The big day had come at last, and spirits were high as the Cuchulainns squad and supporters arrived by coach at Ruislip headquarters – the day of reckoning was here and all that had gone before, whether they be highs or lows, would be irrelevant at the end of final day – it was a case of Winner Takes All (…. or so we thought …)

There was added spice in the pre-match dressing room where copies of an article from a wellknown GAA website had written us off as a one man team. This had incensed Eddie McGuigan into a rousing speech of friendship, togetherness and team spirit, followed by inspiring words from the three wise men; Messers Smyth, Fallon & Bradley – it was a mighty beginning to the exciting day’s proceedings that lay ahead.

The time had come as the players took to the stage of the Emerald grounds, the warmups were done, the photos taken, the scene was set – the final team huddle on the pitch brought the team together for one last spirit rousing moment, the blood was well and truly pumped, the ref called the teams in, players took positions and the battle began.

It wasn’t the best of starts for the Cuchulainns as Garryowen gathered possession at the breakdown, and some decent movement and pressure from their forward line bore fruit early on to give them a one point lead. However, we were not down for long as the team fought hard for possession around the midde of the park with some great fielding from Fiachra McLoughlin setting us on our way to the equaliser from the left foot of Chris Eastwood.

Cuchulainns were now gaining the upper hand and began applying the pressure on Garryowen. It was hard work at times with both teams fighting hard for the ball making it difficult for scores to come by. However, after some battling play the ball broke for Jack Cott down the left wing and turning inside made great headway towards goal before neatly putting Cuchulainns ahead for the first time.

We were then to stretch our lead when under great pressure from the Cuchulainn full forward line of Cripy, DJ, & Mike, the Garryowen defence were forced into giving away a free on the left wing. Up steps stalwart DJ Bradley who calmly and cooly swings the liathróid thar an trasnán agus trí cuilín ansin ag foireann Cuchulainn.

But when all seemed well and going our way, disaster struck! And perhaps only ourselves to blame, some feet were taken off peddles and that allowed the Garryowen to string some nice but far too easy passes together which ended up with an unmarked corner forward hitting the net for Garryowen – a hard fought lead gone in seconds.

But as the first half continued things got no better as the Cuchulainns struggled to deal with the strong wind and movement of the Garryowen team – after taking their second point soon after they were to stride through the Cuchulainns defense and despite the great efforts of keeper Brian from Mayo, we found ourselves five points down after being two in front early on. Garryowen stretched their lead to six before Cuchulainns finally got back to the pace of the game with our fourth point just before the break courtesy of Aimar Barrett who had a great game at centre forward.

The scores at half-time: Cuchulainns 0-4 Garryowen 2-3 (much work to be done).

Much would depend on how we would come out for the second half – did we have the determination, the belief, the desire, the wherewithall to dig ourselves out of this perilous situation we found ourselves in – did we ever!

Right from the throw-in and more great fielding from Fiachra McLoughlin, every man from one to fifteen was to answer that question resoundingly. Every man stood up and was counted in the second half including the subs on the line who were screaming their lungs out from start to finish.

The breaking ball in midfield broke towards the Garryowen man but Aimar Barrett dives in bravely to snaffle the ball and after some scuffling wins himself a free to set up an attack for the Cuchulainns. The ball is spread to the wing where John Byrne gathers it in and moves inside – he plays the simple handpass forward towards Mike Dennehy who under pressure still gets his pass away which ends up in the hands of Chris Eastwood who powers forward and for a second or two looked like he had goal on his mind, but took the right option and drove it over to narrow the gap to four points.

Garryowen were still causing a little trouble going forward but the Cuchulainns defense in the second half were immense and blocked their way time and time again with great blocks and interceptions from the likes of Niall Fallon and Stevie Jordan, who literally threw himself in front of the ball on a number of occasions – thou shalt not pass, thou shalt not score, thou shalt not win!

Slowly but surely, things were happening, the excitement was building, the blood was flowing – did we have enough time to hall ourselves back? The efforts in the first part of the second half were beginning to take their toll so manager Matty Smyth made some key substitutions at this critical time of the match. On came Padraig Harrington for Niall Fallon, and Paul Cahill for Cathal Murtagh who had given their all.

Then came another Cuchulainns point to bring the margin down to just three and soon after it narrowed further when Chris Eastwood took his individual tally to three for the day. The arms and fists were being raised on the touchline, we were still there, we could still do it. One final substitution with 10 minutes remaining saw the introduction of Ollie Neary for John Byrne with Ollie taking up station at right half back.

It was all Cuchulainns now as we continued to apply the pressure and although Garryowen chased us down, the determination and skill of the red & white shone through as Cuchulainns, after another great block from Stevie Jordan, gathered the ball with Padraig Harrington laying it off to Jack Cott and on to Fiachra who plays the direct ball forward which breaks off DJ and onto Chris Eastwood who again moves forward with pace and strokes over a fantastic team point to put just the minimum between the teams with 5 minutes remaining.

We could see the whites of their eyes now as panic seemed to set in on the Garryowen bench, they had no answers, the only question left was would there be enough time for us to get an equaliser or even win it. It seemed like it was not to be our day when a great strike under pressure from Padraig Harrington curled at the last second and hit the post, then across the Garryowen goal and away to safety.

But this is a team of fighters and within a minute and just seconds remaining in normal time we had our answer – a difficult free from a good 40 yards out and a stiff swirling breeze to deal with, nerves of steel would be required to complete the comeback – up steps DJ once more – the crowd go silent, pins were heard dropping, he drives it high into the air, it seems to hang there for an age, breaths were held, but fear ye not as she was straight and true – the sides were level at the Emerald Grounds.

But the drama was far from over as a number of injuries during the game meant added minutes were a certainty. It seemed the momentum was now ours to go on and win it – however, Garryowen had other ideas, they stepped up the action and burst forward with intent – a dangerous free was conceded by the rugby tackle of Padraig Harrington on the half back line.

They went for the score but it drifted wide in the wind and the Cuchulainns defense held firm to clear the ball away down field. However, the opposition gathered the ball again and broke down the right hand side, the ball went into the corner but great defense again by Stevie Jordan got the ball away to Fiachra McLoughlin – but then controversy struck as Fiachra was adjudged to have picked off the ground and a dangerous free from close in was awarded to Garryowen.

The free is struck but not well, but lands dangerously in the square and an almighty pileup of bodies ensues, with shots blocked more than once, hearts were in mouths but the red jersies prevailed and were to clear the ball to saftey by Ollie Neary – the ball went forward and now all of a sudden Cuchulainns were on the attack, was there a winner to be had after all, the ball finds its way into Chris once more who strikes a great shot from a difficult angle but the gasps go up again as she drifts agonisingly wide.

And that, as they say, was that – the ref calls for the liathróid and the final whistle was blown. Victory was not ours, not yet at least! We live to do it all again next Sunday 26th October, and if this game is anything to go by, we’ll be ready – Well played lads, Cuchulainn Abú!

Team and Scorers: Brian Lavell, Cathal Murtagh, Steven Jordan, Joe Shiels, Kieran Wyne, Niall Fallon, Eddie McGuigan, Fiachra McLoughlin, Daire Gilmore, Jack Cott (0-1), Aimar Barrett (0-1), John Byrne, Chris Eastwood (0-4), DJ Bradley (0-3), Mike Dennehy.
Subs: Padraig Harrington, Ollie Neary, Paul Cahill, Gerry Commane, Mike Harrington, Pauric Biggane, Gerard McClinton, James Stones, Eddie Naughton, Pat O’Connor, JMurray

Man of the Match: Steven Jordan

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