GBC U13’s continued their journey in this year’s Championship with an epic Semi Final that had everything – big leads, big comeback, last minute drawn points, extra time, penalties.
It was probably the best €5 the spectators will have paid this year.
The pitch in Callan was in perfect condition and with the rain holding off, the conditions were great but a stiff breeze blowing down the pitch would help the team attacking that end.
Dunnamaggin started the first 10 minutes with the breeze at their backs and looked like they were in a big hurry to get to the final with a terrific return of 2 goals and 4 points to no score for Ballycallan. The excellent Brian Hickey was at the heart of everything for Dunamaggin and they looked like they were going to pull away very early in the game. But the boys from GBC were not ready to surrender and slowly worked their way back into it with a couple of points before the first water break, despite losing the excellent David Walton to injury.
The score was 2-5 to 0-2 as the boys made their way back on the field and in the 21st minute a terrific goal from a free by Cormac Neary really put the comeback on track. Against the breeze the backs really started to get to grips with the challenge and with Oran Hoyne, Cian Ronan and Sean O’Halloran they closed off the route to goal and allowed our midfield and half forward line to get more in the game and start to get a foothold in the match. The score at the break was 2-7 to 1-3.
GBC came out after the break like a team possessed and with the wind at their backs started to dominate proceedings for the next 15 minutes. The excellent Michael Tynan at centre back and ablely assisted by Will Cody at wing back and the midfield duo of Charlie Teehan and Keelan Lynch really started to impose their game. With that pressure came a terrific goal from Ben McEvoy at 14 and another unstoppable goal from a free by Cormac Neary that TJ Reid would be proud of, this made the comeback complete and at the waterbreak GBC had a lead of 2 points. On a scoreline of 3-7 to 2-8. Dara Barut who had worked hard throughout the match made way for Darragh Burke.
As is so often the case with water breaks the team that is losing came out and took control of the game again, the outstanding Brian Hickey scored a goal and two points to leave the score 3-10 to 3-7 with 7 minutes of the match remaining.
But the lads really started to dig deep again with Reggie Carthy excelling at wing back and clearing a number of important balls. Billy Ronan and Joshua Malone were working very hard throughout, blocking and harrying and not letting any easy ball through the half forward line and with 3 minutes to go up popped the industrious Aidan Ging with a goal to draw the sides level coming into the last couple of minutes.
Michael Tynan, having swapped places with Keelan Lynch and moving to a more forward position in the last quarter stormed into the game and scored a terrific point to put Graigue Ballycallan into a 1 point lead in injury time. But an injury time free allowed Dunnamaggin to draw level and extra time loomed.
Captain Cormac Neary opted to go against the wind for the first half of extra time and Dunnamaggin managed to score 4 unanswered points but the boys again dug further into the well and a couple of terrific scores from Michael Tynan and Cormac Neary left Dunnamaggin 2 points up entering the second half of injury time but with the breeze at our backs.
Again Dunnamaggin tried to impose their will on this match with 2 early scores to put 4 between the teams.
The re-introduction of the brave David Walton for the tiring Joshua Malone helped turn the tide again and with Cormac Neary testing the stitching of the Dunnamaggin net again after a foul on the excellent Ben McEvoy who won a lot of important frees despite being double and tripled marked for much of this game.
This was Cormac’s 3rd goal of the match and to have the mental resolve after nearly 80 minutes to beat a goalmouth full of players says a lot about this young man’s ability and will to win.
Still a point down and up stepped Michael Tynan to fire over a terrific third point. In injury time David Walton was very unlucky not to catch a ball which would surely have ended up over the bar.
After nearly 2 hours it came down to the cruelest of ways to end a match – PENALTIES.
And so came the time for our Goalkeeper Shane Hogan to shine.
Having not a chance of saving any of the goals in the match he stepped up to save three of the penalties and was the hero at the end of a shootout which GBC finally came out on top on a scoreline of 2-0.
This team have given us a lot of enjoyment over the last 4 months and hopefully we can overcome the last obstacle in a few weeks time as we await the winners of Gowran and Rower Inistioge.
GBC TEAM: Shane Hogan, Cian Ronan, Oran Hoyne, Sean O’Halloran, Will Cody, Michael Tynan (1-3), Reggie Carthy, Keelan Lynch, David Walton (Charlie Teehan), Billy Ronan, Cormac Neary (4-7), Joshua Malone (David Walton), Aidan Ging (1-0), Ben McEvoy (1-1), Dara Barut (Darragh Burke),
Subs: Sean East, Darragh Burke, Andrew Tector, Sean O’Dea, Tom Brennan, John White, Donnacha Kenny, Charlie Teehan, Martin Wall
Report by Shane Lynch (GBC)