No more than the 15-a-side final, it is hard to believe given the final score-line that Monday evening’s U-14 Championship 13-a-side Final was a close and hard fought affair as an impressive Melvin Gaels turned on the style to see off a game Allen Gaels in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada.
In a fiercely contested first half, two goals in the last five minutes gave Melvin Gaels some breathing room as Allen Gaels, heavily defeated by the Kinlough men in the round robin stages, defied the odds and took the battle to the favourites, putting them to the pin of their collars.
But the Drumshanbo resistance couldn’t last forever as the impressive strength all around the field of Melvin Gaels took its inevitable tale. With Gareth Kearns and Cathal McSharry dominating the defence and Declan Clancy, Cian Brennan and Owen Hill a constant menace, the Gaels had so much strength around the field.
Yet central to it all was an incredibly impressive Daragh Rooney, a midfielder with pace and strength on the ball and it was his charging runs down the centre that did most to rip the heart out of the valiant Allen Gaels.
The Drumshanbo men lacked the physical strength and maturity of their opponents but that didn’t stop Jack Ozdobinski from impressive hugely or Caleb Duffy, Garret Higgins, Callum Moore, Shane McGrenaghan and Kevin Moran from standing out as real prospects for the future.
Melvin Gaels got off to an impressive start with points from Declan Clancy (free) and Daragh Rooney in the first two minutes but as Allen Gaels struggled to hold on, they restricted Melvin Gaels scoring opportunities and Garret Higgins free on seven minutes lifted them.
Cian Beirne equalised from a tight angle but another Clancy free was followed by a period of Allen Gaels dominance that was not rewarded with scores, although a clever fifty routine between Jack Ozdobinski and Caleb Duffy resulted in Duffy pointing in style.
Owen Hill edged Melvin Gaels back in front with a point that could have been a goal as he advanced with a three on one advantage. Clancy was denied a goal with a good block and Allen Gaels hit back with a lovely Niall McGourty point from a tight angle.
Allen Gaels had a few good chances but failed to score and paid the price when Padraig Sheridan collected a kick-out on the wing, ran the length of the field and played a one-two before burying the ball in the net. Daragh Rooney added a point before Melvin Gaels keeper Eoin Gallagher pulled down a high shot.
From his clearance, the Kinlough youngsters broke at speed with Declan Clancy burying the ball in the net to give Melvin Gaels a 2-5 to 0-4 halftime lead, a lead that could have been greater had Rooney not missed a penalty in added time.
Gareth Kearns extended the Melvin Gaels lead with a massive fifty early in the second half, an extraordinary kick at any level, let alone U-14.
Gareth Higgins raised hopes of a come-back on nine minutes when he blasted home from a tight angle but less than a minute later, Rooney soloed in from distance to fire home a goal, adding a point three minutes later.
Allen Gaels had a chance to close the gap but Higgins unfortunately saw his penalty go wide and the Kinlough side continued to rack up the scores as Clancy and Rooney added further goals along with points from Hill, Leo Ryan and Clancy to complete a comprehensive victory.
Eoin Gallagher, Gareth Kearns (0-1), Cathal McSharry, Padraig Sheridan (1-0), Leo Ryan (0-1), Rory Sweeney, Daragh Rooney (2-4), Cillian McGloin, Cian Brennan, Declan Clancy (2-3), Cillian McManus, Rhys Brennan, Owen Hill. Subs: Marcus McGowan, Oisin McGowan, Seamus McGloin, Rory McDonagh, Ryan Gouldie.
Dylan Sheridan, Aaron McCawley, Shane McGrenaghan, Callum Moore, Jack Ozdobinski, Danny McLoughlin, Jason Tuite, Kevin Moran, Cian Beirne (0-1), Caleb Duffy (0-1), Niall McGourty (0-1), Colin Moran, Gareth Higgins (1-1). Subs: Cormac Reynolds, Oisin McGourty, Cormac Lynch, Luke Tuite.
Referee: Gerry Gallogly.