Dramatic late scoring burst sends Kilbrittain into first JAFC final since 1993
Kilbrittain 2-12 Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
St Mary's 2-11
JOHN MURPHY REPORTS
SUPER SUB Owen Sexton was the hero of the hour as Kilbrittain pulled off a dramatic, and shock, South West JAFC semi-final victory last Sunday night.
Five points down heading into injury time Kilbrittain produced a comeback for the ages as they struck twice for goals in the dying moments of this epic to stun St Mary's in Timoleague and edge through to the divisional decider.
It's the first time in 24 years that Kilbrittain have made it through to the South West junior A football final â and they bridged that gap in style.
After a match that had many twists and turns, St Mary's seemed to have got their act together and seen off the challenge of gritty Kilbrittain when they raced into what looked like a comfortable five-point advantage, 2-11 to 0-12, as the clock ticked over into injury-time.
But this team Kilbrittain team, a mixture of youth and experience, never throw in the towel.
Emerging starlet Josh O'Donovan gave the Kilbrittain faithful a glimmer of hope when he billowed the Saints net after fabulous approach play by Philip Wall and impressive substitute TomÃ¡s Sheehan in the 62nd minute.
It looked as if the Ballineen/Enniskeane combination would still prevail, but two minutes later it all went pear-shaped.
Intense Kilbrittain pressure earned them a free, Josh O'Donovan directed it goalwards and who else but former Cork and Carbery footballer Owen Sexton â earlier introduced as a substitute â provided the experience to crash it to the net.
Seconds later the final whistle sounded, St Mary's could scarcely believe their eyes, while Kilbrittain exploded into rapturous delight, they had pulled off the great escape.
A breathless Kilbrittain manager, former Clare senior footballer Noel Griffin was still coming to grips with the magnitude of what last year's county junior B champions had achieved.Â
âWith the breeze, you like to get a good start, the reverse was the case and playing a team of the calibre of St Mary's we knew we would struggle at times. But we stuck with it and I think we deserved our half-time lead (0-8 to 1-4),' Griffin said.
âThen in the second half we were under intense pressure at times, but goals win games and thank God we got those two late ones. To be honest with five minutes left I didn't think we would win, but we dug deep and came out on the right side.
âWe have a good group of players, the guys we brought in were important and I am a firm believer in that the more football we play, the greater the improvement.
âAutomatically qualifying for the new county competition as a finalist in the South West is a huge bonus,' Griffin added.
The frenetic opening half was, in many respects, good and bad in patches. The good came in the shape of St Mary's explosive start, 1-3 to 0-0 ahead after 12 minutes. Niall Kelleher got the scoring show on the road, Brian McCarthy chipped in with a third minute goal, after Seamas O'Brien had saved the initial attempt by Michael O'Driscoll.Â
With Chris Daly rifling over a free and Jack Hurley splitting the posts, together with the positive play of Stephen Keohane, Brian Everard and full back Peter Daly the outlook looked positive for the Saints. Amazingly, they were to go a further 21 minutes scoreless, until a Brian McCarthy 33rd minute free.
In between, Kilbrittain made scoring hay, eight unanswered points between the 16th and 32nd minutes courtesy of four from the outstanding Declan Harrington and two beauties from an equally impressive Josh O'Donovan in the 19th and 29th minutes, while the experienced Noel Griffin chipped in with a brace of points (one free), as Ross Cashman, Cian O'Leary, James Hurley and Ivan Burke were all motoring well.Â
Kilbrittain now led by a point at half time, 0-8 to 1-4.
On resuming a more determined Saints upped the ante and while Declan Harrington rattled over two exquisite scores in the 31st and 34th minutes, the Saints pressure was now intense.
It manifested itself in a Chris Daly free and when the latter was on the end of a Brian McCarthy cross to smash home a beauty in the 39th minute, the Seasiders ship was taking in water rapidly.Â
It almost submerged immediately afterwards, St Mary's winning a penalty. Shot-stopper Seamas O'Brien came to the rescue spectacularly saving Chris Daly's bullet-like drive.Â
Still, Mary's took up the running and with Niall Kelleher and Jason Collins leading by example, Chris Daly expertly converted a string of frees in the 42nd, 46th, 54th, 56th and 60th Â minutes, a Brian McCarthy point sandwiched in between.Â
It looked as if the 2014 champions were on course to another final, but the black and amber had other notions â and then came those two late, late goals.
Kilbrittain: Declan Harrington 0-6, Josh O'Donovan 1-2, Noel Griffin 0-4 (3f), Owen Sexton 1-0.
St Mary's: Chris Daly 1-7 (6f), Brian McCarthy 1-2 (1f), Jack Hurley, Niall Kelleher 0-1 each.
Kilbrittain: Seamas O'Brien; James Hurley, Cian O'Leary, Ivan Burke; David Desmond, Nick O'Donovan, Eamonn Lyons; Ross Cashman, Conor O'Donovan; Philip Wall, Tom Harrington, Maurice Sexton; Declan Harrington, Noel Griffin, Josh O'Donovan.
Subs: TomÃ¡s Sheehan for Lyons (black card, 2), Chris Hickey for Cian O'Donovan (44), Owen Sexton for Desmond (48).
St Mary's: Brian Corcoran; Diarmuid Milner, Peter Daly, Billy O'Brien; Brian Everard, Stephen Keohane, Rory Baggot; Barry O'Mahony, Rory O'Connor; Michael O'Driscoll, Jason Collins, Niall Kelleher; Brian McCarthy, Chris Daly, Jack Hurley.
Sub: John Daly for O'Mahony (42).
Referee: Andrew Whelton (Clonakilty).Â