Johnstownbridge Defeat Castledermot in County Final to Reclaim Their Place in the Top-Flight
Intermediate Football Championship Final Sat 5th October 2013
JTB 2-14 Castledermot 1-10
The scene was set in St. Conleth’s Park on a day which didn’t belong in October as far as the weather was concerned. As the players took to a sunshine drenched pitch, with rapturous applause from both sets of supporters the Hugh Campion Cup sat patiently above the stairs of the clubhouse not knowing its fate for at least 60 minutes. The Intermediate Championship hadn’t been won by either team since before most of the players on the field were born, 1978 for Johnstownbridge and 1985 for Castledermot. Johnstownbridge however, have had Senior Championship success when they dominated Kildare Senior football in the 1980’s winning in 1983, 1988 and 1989.
Johnstownbridge set out their stall early when corner-forward Cathal McNally rattled the post after just 30 seconds had elapsed. A free was subsequently won from that attack 35 yards out, which Seán Hurley kicked over from his hands to get his team off the mark early into the second minute. From that kick-out, Seán won possession and pumped it into Paul Cribbin who found Cathal. Cathal this time hit the upright, however Paul was close enough to win the rebound and slot it neatly over the bar to double the lead for the ‘Bridge men. Castledermot responded in the 3rd minute from a free taken by Paddy Mahon 45 yards out, taken from his hands. Seán again pointed from 40 yards out after Eoin O’Donoghue won possession in around the half-back line to gift him space with an accurate pass. Paddy Mahon again points from a free just a minute later after it was decided the ball was over-carried by Referee Henry Barrett. Castledermot had an almost certain goal in the 7th minute when David Keating got himself into a great position, however The ‘Bridge net-minder Ian Farrell somehow got his hands to it pushing it out to his left. Paddy Mahon got onto the ball and pointed to leave the sides level after 8 minutes, 3 points apiece. Castledermot then went ahead in the 9th minute when Eugene Mahon kicked over on his left foot from play.
Castledermot were not buying into the favourites tag which had been heaped onto the men from the top-end of the county, Paddy Power for example had Johnstownbridge 1/8 on. Stats and history went out the window at this stage and Castledermot had a plan they looked intent on executing in full. A minute later however Paul and Seán linked up effortlessly to create an attack out of nothing. Paul kicked the score from 30 yards, from the outside of his right boot curling the ball over the black-spot; the sides were even again at 4 points all. Johnstownbridge at this stage started to stamp their authority onto the game, Daniel Flynn struck the post in the 11th minute after a quick free taken by Keith Cribbin to Cathal who found Daniel. Unlucky not to raise the green flag but this attack spurred on the team and seemed to boost their spirits. Cathal got his name on the scoreboard a couple of minutes later after kicking a wide moments before. Keith won primary possession from the kick out stormed at the defence before passing into the lethal corner-forward for his first score. Seán points again from a free in the 17th minute after the teams swapped wides moments before. The free came from a foul on Daniel after a great move between Seámus McNally, Seán, Cathal and Eoin before finding Daniel in a great position. As with other teams in the championship this year, their only way to stop his charge was an illegal challenge from Liam Cosgrove who found a yellow card to complete the transaction. Dealing with Daniel’s ability is something the Australians will have to deal with in the coming months, the Johnstownbridge and Kildare stall-worth having signed a two year contract for Port Adelaide earlier in the week. Seán points again in the 19th minute from a free 40 yards out taken from his hands to leave a 3 point margin between the sides JTB 0-07 Castledermot 0-04. David Keating punched over a point in the 20th minute from a 45 taken by Paddy Mahon, to get back to within 2 points. Uncharacteristically in the 21st minute, Seán Hurley kicked a wide from a free after Keith was taken down on the 45 yard line running straight at goal. The ‘Bridge supporters were looking for a straight red but the referee deemed it to be a yellow for Castledermot’s number 10, David Keating. The teams again swapped wides just before the 30th minute, but 30 seconds into injury time Niall Vaughan found the right corner of the net for the ‘Bridge after a pin-point pass supplied by Keith to leave the score JTB 1-07 to Castledermot’s 0-06 going into the break.
At half time the crowd was treated to an exhibition of football by the Under 10 teams from the two clubs and to be fair both sides showed that they have a bright future ahead with the talent on display.
The JTB followers were happy with the timing of the goal which was just what their team needed in this battle which was only half over. This game was a true test of their teams’ resolve, as the hand of history was firmly hanging over them in the weeks prior to this match.
The second half began with a flurry as Niall Vaughan put the ball into the net again only for the umpire to disallow the goal maintaining the ball had gone out of play prior to the shot being taken. A move involving Daniel and Keith Niall caught the ball just left of the goals and unfortunately for him went out of bounds. The marker however was laid out for the second period of the game. Halfway through the second minute of the half Seámus McNally was dragged down 55 yards out from goal after plucking a super ball out of the sky. Seán Hurley took the free out of his hands and kicked it over with at least 15 yards to spare, a feat which was admired by both sets of supporters. In the 5th minute Niall Vaughan found the net for the second time after the ball came off the upright from a Paul Cribben attempt, a move which started from a free in which Castledermot’s wing-back Daniel O’Keeffe received a yellow card. The scoreboard now read JTB 2-08 Castledermot 0-06 with 25 minutes remaining. Less than a minute after the goals Seán and Daniel linked up again over and back several times before Seán sold his now trademark ‘Dummy-Solo’ to the full-back Seán Murphy. Once again he popped it over the bar with ease to leave 9 points between the sides. Castledermot replied with a Eugene Mahon free a minute later and another free from Paddy Mahon after that to close the gap to 7 points. They added a goal to their tally in the 11th minute thanks to Eugene Mahon who caught Luke Flynn off guard and sent it past Ian Farrell’s left side. 4 points between the sides with less than 20 minutes remaining, this game wasn’t a done deal yet. Castledermot’s tactic was to flood midfield with bodies and try and pick up the breaking-ball, to their credit this worked quite well at times, as trying to win clean ball in mid-field against the pairing of Barry McNally (Team Captain), and Seán Hurley was never going to happen for them. When the pressure came on Johnstownbridge they rallied around helping out in areas where they would not normally be required. The 6 backs provided a great platform for attacks by keeping possession under immense pressure at times.
Seán replied with a point from play to take his teams’ lead back to 5 points in the 12th minute after fielding the ball himself in midfield and taking on the backs on his own. Paddy Mahon scored again in the 15th minute from a 21 yard free to keep his side in touch. Keith Cribbin pointed from 35 yards out after Trojan efforts in the middle third by the three McNally brothers to win back possession. Two minutes later Seán pointed from a free after Paul Cribbin was fouled running at the half-backs with purpose. His brother Keith scored a further 2 points from open play in the next few minutes leaving the scoreboard JTB 2-14 Castledermot 1-09. Both sides had goal chances in the 26th and 27th minute but failed to convert them and Niall Vaughan missing out on a hat-trick. The ‘Bridge men worked tirelessly to keep possession in the last 5 minutes with only one Castledermot point claimed in the dying minutes. After 3 minutes of injury time the referee called full-time which saw the men from the north of the county lifting the Hugh Campion Cup with a scoreline of JTB 2-14 Castledermot 1-10.
Castledermot 1 P Murphy, 2 L Cosgrave, 3 S Murphy, 4 V Dowling, 5 D O’Keeffe, 6 B Nolan, 7 P Murphy, 8 G Hendy, 9 G Farrell, 10 D Keating 0-01, 11 P Whelan 0-01 , 20 E O’Keeffe, 13 D Farrell, 14 E Mahon 1-02 (1 free), 15 P Mahon 0-06 (4 frees)
Johnstownbridge 1 I Farrell, 2 J O’Connor, 3 L Flynn, 4 P Mooney, 5 S McNally, 6 Cian Farrell, 7 E O’Donoghue, 8 B McNally(C), 9 S Hurley 0-08 (5 frees), 10 D Flynn, 11 K Cribben 0-03, 12 P Cribben 0-02, 13 J Farrell, 14 N Vaughan 2-00, 15 C McNally 0-01.
Subs 20 I. McKeon for J Farrell (28 mins) 18 M. Donnelly for 4 P. Mooney (29mins) 21 S. Flanagan for 14 N Vaughan (30 mins)
The determination from every member of the team was on show again today in Newbridge. These lads went out on the field to do battle for themselves and for our club. It was obvious early on they weren’t coming home without a victory. Some critics had been saying that they hadn’t been tested enough this campaign but they showed how they dealt with a surge from a team today who went out with a solid game plan and stuck to it. Emotions were high after the game and tears of joy were shed from many, remembering the good times of football days gone by, and hoping this team will push hard next year in the Senior Championship, back where players of this calibre deserve to be. I’m sure there will be many teams who will want to avoid our lads next year.
Barry’s speech was heartfelt too after he lifted the Cup, saying he didn’t realise there is so many people in the parish.
Barry mentioned in an interview a few weeks back that his most inspirational moment as a child was seeing the cup being brought into the village by Declan Kerrigan, well this time it was his turn to inspire the youngsters bringing back the cup. The cup landed in the Hamlet back door in style with the whole team in the back of a Tipper truck painted with the club colours (thanks Niall!). A great night’s craic was had by all.
Fair play to the Squad and Management team – This won’t be forgotten for a while!