CONFEY 1-5 ELLISTOWN 0-4
CONFEY will line out in Kildare football’s top tier in 2012, thanks to a four point win over Ellistown in a rain drenched St Conleth’s Park on Sunday.
Both sides were plunged into a gruelling battle thanks to the dreadful conditions, with neither side finding their top gear. The experienced Confey trio of Joe Keogh, Tomas McCann and James Gately came to the fore in a courageous second half performance to grind out the win.
Confey came in to this final as strong favourites having comfortably dispatched Kilcullen in the semi-final. The form book wasn’t long about being thrown out the window as Ellistown got off to a flier from the opening whistle.
A double from Andy O’Neill had the side that beat Kill in their semi-final into an early lead. The crafty corner-forward dispatched efforts from 30 yards, capitalising on some early defensive nerves from Confey’s Adrian Cawley. The dreadful conditions were certainly hampering any free-flowing play from either side, although it wasn’t long before Ellistown added to their tally.
Clutching the ball impressively in the middle of the park, Tom O’Loughlin had quite obviously one thing on his mind. A couple of long strides towards goal were swiftly followed by a towering shot which flew through the posts, shattering Confey’s game plan in the opening six minutes.
To hop the ball in this weather was criminal, as both sides learned early on to play quick, direct ball. 19 frustrating minutes passed without a score, before Confey finally managed to open their account with a free from Eoin Fitzpatrick. With full-forward McCann challenged illegally, Fitzpatrick was left with a routine set piece inside 25 yards to edit the scoreline.
This was the spark Confey needed, as they found themselves in front moments later with some expert awareness on behalf of Tomas McCann. As Paul Divilly’s 45 dropped short with a strong wind in his face, McCann leaped above Mick Kelly to flick the ball past Shane Doyle in the Ellistown net. As the first half came to an end, Ellistown were suddenly behind in a game they led for 28 minutes, and appeared to have an uphill battle ahead of them.
This game was never going to be a high scoring one, with players doing well to stay upright, never mind clocking up a run of scores. James Gately, a half-time Confey substitute, returned to the field of play having suffered a serious bout of tonsillitis two weeks previous, and couldn’t have made a more influential mark on this final.
His first of three frees came seven minutes into the second half with a right footed shot. Countless handling errors ensured neither side would open up a genuine advantage over their opponents. Philip Hennessy responded for Ellistown with a decent free, when captain Enda Noons was fouled en route to goal.
With 15 minutes remaining, dead ball specialist Gately then managed the point of the game to begin Confey’s final descent to their winning destination. Standing just inside Ellistown’s half, the right footed forward watched his perfectly weighted effort glide through the posts to the joy of Confey supporters.
At this point, the wind was certainly destroying any hope Ellistown clung to in terms of upsetting the odds. Their attacking threat was non-existent, and their challenge suffered another blow with eight minutes remaining when captain Enda Noons was shown a straight red card for an off-the-ball collision with Tomas McCann.
It was then left to Gately to slot home his third free before another substitute, Jason Prior, unleashed a left-footed shot to wrap up this low scoring affair from inside the 45.
Ellistown failed to follow up on an encouraging opening 10 minutes, and a baron second half effort was certainly where this game was won and lost. Confey managed to get to grips with their attacking prowess early on, and extinguished any threat.
Ronan Quinn had his charges prepared for a battle, and this performance showed a different, tougher side to a Confey outfit who were deservedly crowned intermediate champions.
CONFEY: Keith Sullivan; Conor Jennings, Frank Ryder, Adrian Cawley; Donal McLean, John Quigley, Colm Chan; Paul Divilly, Conor Feeney; Joe Keogh, Robert McMahon, Karl Smith; Tomas McCann, Michael McCann .-., Eoin Fitzpatrick .-.f. Subs: James Gately .-.fs for Smith, h/t; Colm Quinn for McMahon, ..; Jason Prior .-. for M McCann, ...
ELLISTOWN: Shane Doyle; Rory McCormack, Christy Kelly, Mick Kelly; Aindriu Mac Lochlainn, Enda Noons, Gavin Delaney; Tom O’Loughlin .-., Philip Hennessy .-.f; Ken Donnelly, Andrew Dempsey, Colm Donnelly; Paddy McDermott, Mick Donnelly, Andy O’Neill .-.. Subs: Jason Dunne for P McDermott, ... Gary Kinahan for M Donnelly, ... Aidan Leonard for K Donnelly, ...
REF: Derek McLoughlin