U21 B Football Champions - the first time since 1994
January 22, 2023
Last night in Kildorrery, in front of a very decent crowd, Killavullen won the U21 B Football Championship for 2022, with a comprehensive win, over Mitchelstown. The compact stand in Kildorrery added to the atmosphere, with every shout, for C’mon the Town, reciprocated by the Killavullen wits, with C’mon the Village, and then, the cry from the large number of Ballygiblin hat wearing crowd, with Up the Crossroads. It made for good banter.
The game was slow to get going, with a number of wides for Killavullen before Patrick O Grady, scored a free for us, in the 10th minute after Mark Nagle had been tripped, in the act of shooting. Mitchelstown responded with a point from a converted 45-metre shot after Niall in our goals had to deal with a high ball into the goalmouth area, when we were lucky not to concede a goal. We got our opening goal in the 18th minute when Seamus O Mahony was close in on goals, and got a deflection to a Liam Fox shot, that was dropping short, and looked like been an easy catch for the Mitchelstown custodian, but you have to credit Seamus for being alert in that situation. Mitchelstown responded with a converted free in the 19th minute, but now, Killavullen were in the ascendancy, especially in the critical middle third of the field, where Ronan Barry and Liam Fox were beginning to dominant. Patrick O Grady scored another converted free in the 22nd minute, again after Mark, so elusive and devastatingly quick on the night was fouled again. Patrick had another converted free; this time after Jamie Magner was fouled, in the 25th minute. We got a great boost just before half time, when a free from an acute angle from Patrick, from the stand side of the field came down off the post, and Seamus was sharpest to react and poached another goal. 2-03 to 0-02 was the score at the interval.
Killavullen played some scintillating football in the second period. The midfield gained great possessions, and the running of the halfback line, off the shoulder of the man in possession, always gave Killavullen an avenue to run hard and direct at the Mitchelstown rear guard. What was then particularly impressive was decisive low trajectory kick passes into an inside forward line, whose appetite for destruction on the night was impressive. Mitchelstown could not simply live with the runs and movements of Mark Nagle, Seamus O Mahony and Patrick O Grady. Liam Fox opened the scoring in the first minute of the half. Mark saw one effort canon back off the upright, before he then forced a great save from the Mitchelstown goalkeeper shortly thereafter. At the back, our defence was out in front of their men all night, attacking the ball with abandonment, and showing great desire. Fionn was very good at full back, aided and assisted by Sean and Michael on the flanks, who were very composed on the ball, and whose overlapping runs at the appropriate times, gave great platforms to attack. Seamus scored another point for us, in the 7th minute, after being found in space by Mark, before Killavullen scored their 3rd and final goal in the 11th minute. Again, a run from Brian Cotter released Mark Nagle on the flank, who cut inside to feed Patrick O Grady, who drew the defender and off loaded to Jamie, again running off the shoulder, who finished with aplomb to the net. Mark scored a great point from an acute angle in the 13th minute, when he twisted and turned, and twisted again to ultimately create space for a wonder point.
Mitchelstown stayed in the game, with a goal in the 14th minute after a greasy ball was spilled in and around our goals. We answered that back, with a great point from the very hardworking captain, in Liam Fox, which rocketed over the bar, but you suspect with the venom, that Liam hit it with, his mind was on getting a goal. What was pleasing about the score was that Darragh O Grady, who fed the ball to Liam, turned over Mitchelstown in possession but also that Liam was still making lung bursting runs up and down the field, and when he did, Ronan stayed around the middle of the field to mind against a Mitchelstown break out. Killavullen rung out a number of changes at the juncture, and gave others, from their very sizeable bench game time. Joe Cagney came on for the impressive Sean Bartley, in defence, and Mikey O Connor came out for Kian Lane, who gave his marker a torrid time over the 45 minutes, he was on the field, he simply did not stop running. Rory Regan came on for Mark Nagle, who was spellbinding; Ultan Cottey for the man of the match in Seamus O Mahony, and Colin Carey, for Jamie Magner, the centre forward who went through an amount of possession.
Mitchelstown got another point from their centre forward in the 21st minute of the half, and converted free in the 28th but fittingly, it was Killavullen who got the final two scores, from Mikey O Connor, in the 60th and Rory Regan in the 61st minute, again after great space making deliveries from the half back line of Brian, Eoin and Cian.
Afterwards, the cup was presented to our captain, Liam Fox, by the Avondhu board Development Officer, in John O Donovan, from Killavullen who had previously coached this team at U16 level. John Roche, Avondhu Divisional secretary, and he of previous Killavullen parish, but now entrenched with Clyda Rovers, had previously thanked all the participating team in U21 competitions in 2022.
Liam, as witty as his older brothers, Seamus and Kevin, now in Australia, thanked his fellow players, for their effort, thanked the Avondhu board for arranging an U21 championship, when other Divisions had not, thanked his coaches in Dave Brosnan, Ian Roche and Kevin O Regan. Liam also acknowledged the great success of Ballygiblin, in winning the All Ireland Junior Hurling championship, only the week before, and thanked Dave Twomey and his officials as the referee, who did an excellent job on the game, in misty and damp conditions.
Afterwards, the cup, which last visited Killavullen in 1994 made its way back to Killavullen Village and the Haven Bar, and from there, down to the Shebeen, in Commane, to Liam’s house. With a mare due to foal, on the farm, on the night, I sure, Liam’s Dad, Willie would have loads of help to assist if necessary, but perhaps not either.
Well done all – Killavullen Abú
5.Cian O Connor
8.Liam Fox (0-02)
10. Kian Lane
11.Jamie Magner (1-0)
12. Darragh O Grady
13.Patrick O Grady (0-3, 0-03F)
14. Seamus O Mahony (2-01)
15. Mark Nagle (0-1)
Joe Cagney for Sean Bartley, Ultan Cottey for Seamus O Mahony, Rory Regan (0-01) for Mark Nagle, Colin Carey for Jamie Magner. Mikey O Connor (90-01) for Kian Lane
Conor Griffin (Injured) Colm Looney (Injured), Ian O Mahony, Jack Martin, Stephen Rea, Michael Walsh, Donal Cronin, Sean Palmer
Well done all – Killavullen Abú
Michael Whelan was captain in 1994, and played on for a further 22 years, after that U21 success, and was a huge part in the majestic Killavullen teams, that won the County Junior Football title in 2000. Michael played Premier Intermediate football, at the start of the Millennium and came within the breath of the crossbar of defeated Mallow in 2007, a result that catapulted Mallow to Senior Football ranks.
Hopefully, we will catch the same sweet tune, from this very talented U21 Group.