Munster Junior Club Championship Quarter-Final
Dromid Pearses 0-14 Naomh Eoin 0-10 At Páirc Eoin, Cross
ULTIMATELY it was the Kerry champions’ greater guile in front of goal that got them home to victory, but what a battle they were given by the hardy men from Loophead in this rip-roaring game that could be a metaphor for what the club championships are all about.
#TheToughest goes the slogan to flag the enduring appeal of the club game — this was just that as underdogs Naomh Eoin threatened to go where no Clare club at junior level has gone before and beat Kerry opposition.
Dromid may have had four points to spare at the end, but it wasn’t until the final moments of injury time that they eased away from the heroic resistance provided by a Naomh Eoin side that was reduced to 13 players but still kept fighting to the end.
This was evidenced by the storming move up the left flank in the 60th minute led by midfielder Conor Downes before the ball eventually fell to substitute Kieran McNamara who unleashed an unstoppable shot beyond Brian O’Leary in the Dromid goal.
It was the equalising goal? So everyone thought until the leather crashed off the crossbar and away to safety as Dromid’s three-point lead remained intact.
The fight that brought Naomh Eoin to this point was there all through, while Dromid Pearses relied more on instinct and flair to get the job done — for the first 40 minutes it was provided by the brilliance of corner-forward Niall O’Shea and then at the death by late points through Dillan O’Donoghue, captain Chris Farley and Graham O’Sullivan as the men from the Iveragh peninsula finally broke the hearts of their counterparts from the Loophead peninsula.
But what Naomh Eoin had they gave — in the first half when playing with the breeze their energy, workrate and willingness to leave everything out there was evident, even though they were shorn the services of talismans Seamus Boland and Michael Liddane.
Despite opening the scoring through Douglas Lynch in the second minute Naomh Eoin leaked 0-3 down the other end by the seventh minute as Tom Curran, Chris Farley and Niall O’Shea found the range.
And with those points it seemed as if Dromid would take control only for Naomh Eoin to really warm to their task for the rest of the half as they pressed high up the field and started to dominate. A tenth minute penalty, which was awarded for a foot block on Gearóid Lynch by full-back Dominic O’Sullivan was their first big opportunity — Lynch’s subsequent kick may have been tipped onto the post by Brian O’Leary but Niall Bonfil followed up to fire over the bar to begin Naomh Eoin’s period of dominance.
Three more followed from Bonfil by the 20th minute to a lone replay from Padraig Jackie O’Sullivan as Naomh Eoin led by 0-5 to 0-4 as a great atmosphere among the 577 crowd rumbled around Clare football’s most westerly outpost.
From there it was point for point until the break with Curran landing a couple of frees for Dromid and Patrick Foley and Owen Lynch firing over inspirational points from play for the Clare champions as matters rested at 0-7 each.
Dromid would have been expected to pull away with the wind at their backs in the second half and while 0-3 from Niall O’Shea by the 40th minute helped them into a 0-10 to 0-8 lead there was no let up in Naomh Eoin’s willingness to fight the cause.
Conor Downes had opened their account for the half with a free in the 48th minute and he really took the fight to the favourites in midfield, as did captain Pa Geaney from centre-back as they stormed back into contention in the final 15 minutes despite being reduced to 14 after Declan Keniry saw red.
The numerical disadvantage didn’t stop them bringing it back to 0-11 to 0-10 by the 52nd minute thanks to points from Gearóid Lynch and Niall Bonfil, only for a couple of missed chances to be punished down the other end as Dromid landed thosecrucial late scores and breathed a huge sigh of relief.
But still Naomh Eoin refused to die, until the goal chance cruelly denied by the post became the point of no return as they were soon reduced to 13 players with the sending off of Sean Bonfil before finally succumbing to the south Kerry side managed by five-time All-Ireland winner Declan O’Sullivan.
Brian O’Leary (7), Cian O’Shea (7), Dominic O’Sullivan (7), Shane O’Connor (7), Denis Shine O’Sullivan (7) Graham O’Sullivan (7) (0-1), Padraig Jackie O’Sullivan (7) (0-1), Kevin O’Leary (7), Aidan Shine O’Sullivan (7) (0-1), Kealan Farley (7), Chris Farley (Capt) (7) (0-2, 1f), Kevin Sheehan (7), Eoin O’Leary (7) Thomas Curran (7) (0-3f), Niall O’Shea (8) (0-5). Subs John O’Shea (6) for Eoin O’Leary (43), Padraig Sheehan for O’Connor (49), Dillan O’Donohgue (6) (0-1) for Kevin Sheehan (54).
John Keating (7), Declan Keniry (7), Conor Tevlin (7), Sean Bonfil (6), Douglas Lynch (7) (0-1) Pa Geaney (7), Odhran Lynch (7), Conor Downes (8) (0-1f), Lorcan Lynch (7), Eoin Hanrahan (7), Patrick Foley (7) (0-1), Gavin Magner (7), Gearóid Lynch (7) (0-1), Eoin Lynch (7) (0-1), Niall Bonfil (7) (0-5, 4f). Subs Conor Magner (6) for Foley (45) B/C, Kieran McNamara (6) for Gavin Magner (49).
Man of the Match
Niall O’Shea (Dromid Pearses)
Referee John Ryan (Cork)