Martin McCartin presents the cup to Glencar/Manor captain Conor Dolan. Photo by Declan Gaffney
A good start is half the battle and it was certainly that for Glencar/Manorhamilton who claimed the U21 B title last Saturday in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada.
The north Leitrim men ended their run of 2017 County final defeats when they blitzed St. Francis in the first half, scoring 1-9 to 0-2, and despite an improved second half display from the Allen Gaels & Ballinaglera men, Glencar/ Manor were never in trouble.
Two equally matched teams produced a sporting and entertaining game and it was Manor’s first half performance that proved crucial. St Francis were impressive in the second half but left their comeback too late as the battle between St. Francis' Wayne Reynolds and Manor's Cian Killelea left supporters intrigued.
Ruairi Sheridan was awarded the Man of the Match award with a commanding display marshalling the defence and driving his team forward from the centre back position.
Not far behind Sheridan were Cian Killalea who limited sharpshooter Wayne Reynolds to great effect, Conor Dolan who had an excellent game upfront and Fearghal Rooney who was very strong in the middle of the park for Glencar/Manor.
For St Francis, Wayne Reynolds, goal scorer Ciaran Walsh and Caleb Duffy were impressive while Cian Beirne turned in a great hour.
In terms of turning points, Oisin Keaney’s goal just before halftime gave Manor a comfortable lead going into the dressing rooms.
Referee Seamus Mulhern had little to do in a sporting game of football, he played the advantage rule to great effect allowing the game to flow. However, one does have to say that it was disappointing that a County Final did not have a programme for spectators to enjoy last Saturday.
Glencar/Manor started quickly with a first minute point from Karl McDermott, quickly followed by scores from Vincent Sweeney and Conor Dolan inside the first six minutes. Dolan would add further points on ten and 11 minutes as the north Leitrim men were five points clear.
Wayne Reynolds steadied St. Francis with a free on 12 minutes and when Allen Gaels’ Caleb Duffy fired over two minutes later, it looked as if St. Francis were about to mount a serious challenge.
A Conor Dolan free stretched the lead to four points but Manor had a let-off when a Ryan Crawford shot crashed off the post and was clear and Glencar/Manor made the most of it with points from Dolan, after a foul on Donnacha Devaney and Ruairi Sheridan.
The coup de grace came four minutes before the break when Oisin Keaney drove home a goal and Dolan added a point to leave Glencar/Manor 1-9 to 0-2 in front at the halftime interval.
St Francis had the brighter start to the second half and gave themselves a massive boost when Ciaran Walsh fired the ball to the net in the first minute. But despite their superiority in the opening ten minutes, St. Francis were unable to turn possession into scores.
And their comeback efforts were dealt a blow when sustained pressure by Fearghal Rooney led to a turnover with Conor Dolan popping over a super point for the winners.
Declan Byrne added a score before Cian Beirne, St. Francis’ youngest player who played his heart out over the hour, pointed for the Drumshanbo-Ballinaglera side, Glencar/ Manor sub Ethan Clancy pointing after 17 minutes.
St. Francis refused to lie down and points from Ciaran Walsh and Wayne Reynolds (free) were answered by a Conor Dolan free with seven minutes to go. St. Francis refused to give up and two Wayne Reynolds points, one a free, and another from Caleb Duffy were just reward for their efforts.
Scorers: Conor Dolan 0-8, 5f; Oisin Keaney 1-0; Vincent Sweeney, Ruairi Sheridan, Karl McDermott, Declan Byrne & Ethan Clancy 0-1 each
Team: Luke Sheridan, Cian Killalea, Gavin O’Hagan, Vincent Sweeney, Ruairi Sheridan, Peter Poniard, Fearghal Rooney, Karl McDermott, Alan McSharry, Declan Byrne, Donnacha Devaney, Conor Dolan, Oisin Keaney. Subs Ethan Clancy for Poniard, Jack O’Connell for Devaney, D. Devaney for Keaney
Scorers: Wayne Reynolds 0-4, 3f; Ciaran Walsh 1-1; Caleb Duffy 0-2, Cian Beirne 0-1
Team: Fergal Gilmartin, Kyle Flynn, Michael Crawford, Oisin McGourty, Padraig Clarke, Cian Beirne, Kevin Moran, Caleb Duffy, Niall McGourty, Gareth Higgins, Ryan Crawford, Wayne Reynolds, Ciaran Walsh. Sub: Christian Wynne for Niall McGourty
Referee: Seamus Mulhern