Gavin O’Connor was at the Senior County League Division 1 Promotion Playoff Final in Brosna yesterday…
John Mitchels 1-15
TWO unanswered points well into stoppage time in extra time by Spa, means both sides will have to go again for a place in this year’s Division 1 of the County League.
John Mitchels James Duggan was the star of the show, scoring 1-5 from play and 1-8 in total at a blustery and bleak Brosna on Sunday afternoon.
Coming into the final 15 minutes of the second-half in normal time, it looked like the Tralee side had done enough, but Spa pulled the game back scoring five on the bounce to force extra-time.
Mitchels were just about the better side, they will rue missing two handy chances in front of goal in the dying moments of the 60 that would have surely seen them over the line.
A huge factor in the match was a strong gale that perpetuated throughout. The Tralee side, opted to play with the breeze in the first half after winning the toss.
The advantage showed, they kicked eight points in the half. Spa got a vital goal with three minutes left from Craig Hickey, to keep them in touch.
In the final minutes of the half, Spa were cut open on three occasions where the ball was unlucky not to finish to the net – one of them a cracker of a shot from the outside of the boot by George Bastible, which rattled the post.
The half finished John Mitchels 1-6, Spa 1-3.
Now it was the turn of the East Kerry side to gain the wind advantage, but it was Mitchels who had the better of Spa on the scoreboard. That was until Shane O’Connor got his marching orders for a tackle off the ball on 49 minutes.
Confusion reigned as referee, Brendan Griffin, first produced a black card, then a red. O’Connor walked off and Mitchels were down to 14.
With the wind and momentum now behind Spa, they began to attack the Mitchels goal. Midfielder Andrew Garnett was getting the better of things around the middle and the industrious Evan Cronin was proving a handful.
Bit by bit, Spa clawed back the lead and a point with two minutes left from the excellent Michael O’Donoghue, brought the game to extra-time.
The match finished 1-10 apiece.
Story continued below…
With Mitchels returning to the full complement of players, Spa once more had the benefit of the breeze for the first half of extra time, which finished with Spa one point in front – Michael O’Donoghue putting them ahead for the first time since the 16th minute.
Mitchels made a switch, putting half back Stephen O’Mahony, who was seeing a lot of ball, into the forward line and it instantly paid off. O’Mahony scored a point a minute into the final half of the match.
A point by James Duggan and another from Alan O’Donoghue, put Mitchels ahead by two once more.
It looked like Mitchels were going to do it, but unfortunately for them, a melee that stopped the game for seven minutes put a halt to their gallop.
Ugly scenes developed outside the Spa dugout with both teams involved and even, at one stage, a few supporters.
It got so bad that it looked as if Spa manager, Pat Cronin, was calling his players off the pitch, but finally order was restored and we were in for a nail biter of a finish.
With the match well into stoppage time, Spa fought hard to claw it back. Mike Foley brought it to within a point and with the last kick of the game, Shane Cronin fired a shot off the inside of the post and over the bar.
Mitchels will feel they left this game behind them, but credit must be given also to Spa’s battling spirit.
The replay will be played, Sunday, January 24 at 1:30pm. Venue to be confirmed.
More photos below…
John Mitchels: James Duggan 1-8 (3f), Alan O’Donoghue 0-3 (1f), Shane O’Connor 0-1, Niall Sheehy 0-1, Sean Moloney 0-1, Stephen O’Mahony 0-1
Spa: Michael O’Donoghue 0-6 (3f), Craig Hickey 1-2, Evan Cronin 0-1, Mike Foley 0-3 (1f), Dan O’Dononghue 0-1, Alfie Giles 0-1, Shane Cronin 0-1
John Mitchels: Dermot Raggett, Daniel Kerins, Brendan O’Mahony, Cian Sheridan, Stephen O’Mahony, Laurence Bastible (Capt), Frank O’Donnell, Ciaran Deane, Mike Deane, Sean Moloney, Shane O’Connor, George Bastible, Niall Sheehy, James Duggan, Alan O’Donoghue
Spa: James Devane, Paul Russell, Michael, Finnegan, Shane Lynch, David Spillane, Dan O’Donoghue, Shane Cronin, Matt Moynihan, Andrew Garnett, Mike McCarthy, Alfie Giles, Michael O’Donoghue, Craig Hickey