The strength, speed and no shortage of ability of the Garadice Gaels players saw them overcome the Allen Gaels challenge in the U-16 13-a-side league final in Pairc Sean MacDiarmada but they were made to work very hard for their victory in what was an enjoyable game for those gathered in the sun soaked county grounds.
Conor Gaffney was the star of the show for Garadice Gaels but there were several fine performances from the likes of Fergal McTague, Mark Plunkett and Dylan Mimna in an excellent team display. From an Allen Gaels perspective Padraig Clarke and Wayne Reynolds both shone but ultimately their efforts were in vain.
Garadice Gaels made the brighter start to the game and raced into an early three point lead with their scores coming from gaffney (free) and Mimna with two points.
Having endured their fair share of pressure in the opening stages Allen Gaels’s first indication of their attacking talent resulted in the game’s opening goal. Alan McTeague and Caleb Duffy combined well to find Sean McGourty who found the Garadice goal from close range.
The nip and tuck nature of the game continued as Dylan Mimna’s point was cancelled out by a Wayne Reynolds free.
Just past the midway point in the first half Garadice struck for their first goal as Dylan Mimna’s shot eluded Dylan Sheridan. However, that setback didn’t seem to rattle the Allen Gaels players in the slightest as they responded with two Wayne Reynolds pointed frees either side of an excellent point scored by Ciaran Walsh.
It was to get even better for the Allen Gaels supporters as they saw their side register a further three unanswered points with Reynolds again converting two frees, this time either side of a Caleb Duffy point.
With the half drawing to a close Allen Gaels would have been pleased with how the game was developing but Garadice Gaels finished the half the stronger and struck for a goal an four points to take a three point lead into the break.
Conor Gaffney’s free reduced the deficit to two points before the same player picked out Michael Prior who scored his side’s second goal of the game. Stamping his authority even further on the game Gaffney added two further points to give Garadice Gaels a 2-7 to 1-7 lead at the break.
The second half began with Garadice Gaels seemingly intent on ensuring they stayed on top and they struck within 17 seconds of the second half getting underway and it was no surprise to see that once again it was Conor Gaffney who was on target.
However, Allen Gaels were in no mood for accepting defeat as a forgone conclusion and they duly hit back with points from Wayne Reynolds (free) and a fine score from Padraig Clarke.
As the game continued Garadice Gaels appeared to be coping better the physical demands of the contest while Allen Gaels looked as though they were beginning to fade as gaps became more apparent in various parts of the pitch.
While some seemed to be tiring Mark Plunkett appeared to be getting stronger as the game progressed and his two points in quick succession helped extend the Garadice Gaels lead.
Although Allen Gaels replied with a Wayne Reynolds free, Garadice were now beginning to take control in all areas of the pitch and further points from Conor Gaffney and Mark Plunkett put five points between the sides as the game entered the final quarter.
Padraig Clarke did his utmost to ensure his side kept battling to the end and his efforts were rewarded with a fine point.
Ultimately Clarke’s efforts went unrewarded as Garadice Gaels proved to be clinical in the manner in which they saw out the game with Mark Plunkett converting two frees to further extend his side’s lead and with just six minutes remaining he made sure of victory when he scored his side’s third goal.
The scoring was completed by Allen Gaels’ Padraig Clarke who scored a fine individual goal but ultimately that score had little bearing on the final outcome.
Darragh McNiff, Kilian Lavin, Ronan Maxwell, Ciaran O’Haire, Pierce Dolan, Donal McCabe, Mark Plunkett (1-5), Declan Flanagan, Michael Prior, Fergal McTague, Adam Kearns, Conor Gaffney (1-6), Dylan Mimna (0-3).
Dylan Sheridan, Kevin Moran, Kyle Flynn, Jack Ozbodinski, Kevin Moran, Callum Moore, Padraig Clarke (1-2), Alan McTeague, Wayne Reynolds (0-7), Ciaran Walsh (0-1), Caleb Duffy (0-1), Sean McGourty (1-0), Shane McGreanaghan.
Referee: Gerry Gallogly