Aughavas captain Eoin Kenny lifts the Vistamed Junior A FC trophy on Saturday evening in Avant Money Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada
Inspired by a superb man of the match performance from Seamus Sweeney, Aughavas prevailed over neighbours Cloone in an entertaining and competitive 2020 Vistamed Junior A FC Final in a sun drenched Avant Money Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada on Saturday evening.
Everyone expected a titanic battle between these two deadly rivals and that is what we got as Cloone raced into a seven point lead inside the first 12 minutes, their first score a goal after just 18 seconds.
But once a younger and more mobile Aughavas found their feet, they stormed back into the game as they scored 1-7 to a solitary point for Cloone for the rest of the first half and they never looked back as they claimed the title and local bragging rights.
Cloone fought incredibly hard and but for a superb block from wing-back Shafik Ouibhi just before the final water break from a goal bound Gavin Reynolds shot, they might have fought their way back into the contest and taken it right to the wire.
But when they look back on this game, it won’t be hard to identify where it went wrong for Cloone - four missed frees, poor passing and the concession of frees cost them very dearly against a more clinical Aughavas team who were better able to finish their chances.
Chief reason for that was the superb Seamus Sweeney, man of the match and deservedly so with eight points, five from frees. But Sweeney also created at least four more scores and was central to everything good that Aughavas did on the evening.
His pace, ability to take score and vision kept Cloone on the backfoot and his manager Fintan McBrien suggested after the game that the new Leitrim Senior team manager could do worse that check out the Aughavas youngster.
Sweeney was clearly head and shoulders above everyone but there were excellent displays from Aidan Maguire, Shakik Ouibhi, Eoin Kenny, Sean McKiernan, Fintan Gallogly and Niall McCabe on a great evening for an emerging Aughavas side.
Aughavas’ immediate prize is the long delayed 2020 Junior A crown, a title delayed by last October’s pandemic lockdown but in just over three weeks, Aughavas will take their place in the Intermediate Championship and a young team is already looking forward to making a big impact.
Leitrim GAA County Board Chairman Enda Stenson presents the man of the match award to Seamus Sweeney
For Cloone, there was deep disappointment but they have the chance to erase their disappointment in only three weeks with the start of the 2021 campaign. The loss of Declan Brennan and Declan Tiernan to injury in the first half was a major blow and didn’t help their cause but they were the first to admit that Aughavas were the better side on the day.
Gavin Reynolds, Niall Keegan, Seamus McCaffrey, Damian O’Donnell, Brian Mulvey and sub Martin Tiernan toiled manfully for Cloone but Aughavas just had too much power and youthful legs in conditions that would test the fittest teams.
Cloone had an absolute dream start when, just 18 seconds into the game, they had the ball in the back of the Aughavas net. Gavin Reynolds’ powerful run through the centre saw him offload to Niall Quinn who finished brilliantly to the net for a wonder start.
Cloone might have had a second goal in their second attack but Derek O’Donnell opted to fire over the bar after another good move cut the Aughavas rearguard to bits. Aughavas were struggling with Seamus Sweeney firing a free well wide and Derek O’Donnell added another point after good work from Quinn, the prospect of a goal briefly on before the point was tapped over.
Gavin Reynolds was heavily fouled on the way through but picked himself up to tap over a ninth minute free and after David Charles hit a wide, the resulting kickout went very long, evading the grasp of an Aughavas defender as Damien O’Donnell ran through to kick an excellent point.
Cloone led 1-4 to no score after 11 minutes but the rest of the half belonged to Aughavas as Seamus Sweeney started to have a huge effect on the game. A silly foul in the corner allowed Sweeney to kick a difficult free to get Aughavas up and running on 13 minutes before he gathered a ball down the right wing, ran on, cut back and fired over an excellent point almost immediately.
Fintan Gallogly shot wide but a couple of off the ball fouls proved very costly for Cloone, Colm Maguire pointing after a short free. Cloone replied with a point from Brian Mulvey that could have been a goal but his shot went high over the bar but a missed Reynolds free was answered by a great move involving Sweeney and Gallogly and ended by a good Niall McCabe point.
Cloone’s problems started to mount as centre-back Declan Brennan had to leave the game injured and two frees in as many minutes from Sweeney cut the gap back to just two points with three minutes left of normal time.
Gavin Reynolds hit a wide for Cloone while Brian Mulvey was yellow carded for a foul with Sweeney tapping over the free nearly two minutes into the allotted three minutes of added time.
Crucially, Aughavas’ next score changed the complex of the game with Sweeney sending a high speculative ball in towards the Cloone goalmouth. It may have been a wayward shot but McCabe did well to win the loose ball and fed a charging Fintan Gallogly who buried the ball in the Cloone net for an enormous score.
That left Aughavas on a high going into the break, leading 1-7 to 1-5, scarcely believable when they trailed by seven points after 11 minutes.
Gavin Reynolds tapped over a free after a foul on Eoghan Keegan 35 seconds into the second half but Aughavas were on a roll and a Sweeney free was quickly followed by the man of the match setting up Sean McKiernan for a well taken point on three minutes.
Colm Maguire hit a wide before Gavin Reynolds hit a superb free to cut the gap back to two but Sweeney and McKiernan were at it again in the next two minutes, Sweeney left criminally alone to fire over a brilliant point.
Sweeney was the provider again as he helped set up McKiernan for another good point after Cloone’s Eoghan Keegan was dispossessed. Cloone sent on former Leitrim star Donal Brennan while Aughavas also looked for experience in bringing on Kieran Moran.
A Reynolds free cut the gap back to a point but Sweeney scored a fine point after a block on a McCabe shot seconds earlier. McCabe did get his score, taking a brilliant mark from a long ball to stretch Aughavas’ lead to five points.
Despite their growing dominance out the field, Aughavas had good reason to be thankful to Shafik Oubhi for a wonderful block after a superb Cloone move cut their defence to pieces, Gavin Reynolds denied a goal when it seemed certain he would score just before the water break.
Cloone never backed down but their finishing and final pass often let them down although a great move from defence and a Donal Brennan pass set up Niall Quinn for a good point with less than five minutes to go.
But Aughavas hit back immediately, a quick free to Colm Maguire seeing him grab their final score of the game to restore the five point gap. Sweeney dropped a free short and Gavin Reynolds did pull back a point from a free but Aughavas had two many bodies back to offer Cloone the goal chance they needed as they held out comfortably for the victory.
Scorers: Seamus Sweeney 0-8, 5f; Fintan Gallogly 1-0; Sean McKiernan, Colm Maguire & Niall McCabe (M) 0-2 each
Team: Ross Williams, Shane Shortt, Aidan Maguire, Francis Bohan, Shafik Oubhi, Paul Bohan, Trevor Farrelly, Eoin Kenny, David Charles, Sean McKiernan, Seamus Sweeney, Darragh McCabe, Fintan Gallogly, Colm Maguire, Niall McCabe. Subs: Kieran Moran for D McCabe (41), Niall Maguire for Ouibhi (59)
Scorers: Gavin Reynolds 0-5, 5f; Niall Quinn 1-1; Derek O’Donnell 0-2; Ronan Mulvey & Damian O’Donnell 0-1 each
Team: Niall Farrell, Dara Tiernan, Aidan Mulvey, Declan Tiernan, Darren Keegan, Declan Brennan, Niall Keegan, Brian Mulvey, Seamus McCaffrey, Eoghan Keegan, Gavin Reynolds, Adrian Nicholls, Damian O’Donnell, Derek O’Donnell, Niall Quinn. Subs: Martin Tiernan for D Brennan (24), Mark Creegan for D Tiernan (32), Donal Brennan for Derek O’Donnell (41)
Referee: Mark McCloskey
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