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posted 18 Dec 2011, 06:48 by Unknown user

On a cold winters day we were fortunate that the field in the Ragg held up well enough for the under 13 Roinn D final between Rathkeevin and Ballina. It wasn’t a day for the free flowing football that a neutral would have wanted but both sides contested a thrilling encounter. When the game started neither team could gain control and battled the conditions as much as one another. It took the bones of 8mins before the first score of the match. When the ball fell for Seán Cotter around the middle of the park he broke away to put over the first point of the game. You would think it would have settled Rathkeevin but it seemed to drive on Ballina who quickly got into their stride. Their reaction was testament to their attitude on the day. A long ball in which caused difficulty for the Rathkeevin defence, ended up landing to their corner forward who took on our defenders. It ended with two men on the ground and the referee pointing toward the spot. The boy who stepped up for Ballina made no mistake and gave Matthew Brophy no chance with a precise spot kick to the bottom left hand corner of the net. Rathkeevin knew they had a battle on their hands and so often has been the case this year they stepped up to the mark. The weather and commitment of both teams ensured that it was a hard physical battle. Both teams contesting every ball meant that neither could get time on it. The first half had few chances for either side with defences on top but ended with a key goal for Rathkeevin which proved a vital turning point in the match. Great work by Daniel Foley down the left hand touchline where he just about kept in a long ball played down to him. He cut inside and fed Óisín Napier who dropped a ball into the back post. Jack Moloney contested it well and the result was it dropped into the stride of Seán Cotter who supplied a great strike to the roof of the net. Some great running and effort from Daniel Keane meant we were a constant threat in the first half even though the scores didn’t happen as of yet. Coming into half time Rathkeevin had the slight lead of 1-1 to 1-0. The start of the second half was similar to that of the first with both sides almost cancelling each other out. But Rathkeevin again got the edge 5 or so minutes in when a loose ball fell to the feet of Óisín Napier who showed his natural soccer skills with a first time shot from the ground which reached the top corner of the back post. Any other team may have folded but Ballina kept fighting for every ball. The next ten minutes tested Rathkeevin more than any other team had all year. Ballina kept coming at us with intent in every attack. Some great blocking from Michael Cleary, Tiernan Ó Ceallaigh and the rest of the Rathkeevin team made sure that our lead was kept intact. Knowing that the constant pressure could get to us we decided that attack was our best form of defence. With our captain Jack Harney constantly driving others on this positive attitude was further proven when Diarmuid Mulcahy, who had been playing as our defensive midfielder, latched onto a loose ball and used all of his skill and experience to rattle the Ballina net with a fine strike. In the closing moments the momentum was with Rathkeevin but Ballina gave us a reminder of their threat with a fine score of their own. A lovely strike straight between the posts that set up a nervy ending. Rathkeevin now relied on their talented forwards such Jack Moloney, Brian Ó Dea and Robert Flaherty to relieve the pressure from our defence. Eventually the final score of the match killed the game off and on a day that cut short free flowing football it was a great reminder of the talent on show when Seán Cotter capped a great game with a sublime point. It started with a Ballina attack, a dangerous ball in that was intercepted by Michael Cleary. Keeping his composure he picked out a Rathkeevin midfielder. After three one two’s in the midfield area the ball was sweetly struck into the chest of Cotter who took on his man. From a huge distance a cleanly hit strike found its way straight between the posts. The whistle went soon after with a score of 4-2 to 1-2 showing the tight nature of the game. Joy for Rathkeevin who had lost in last year’s final but a fantastic attempt from a very talented Ballina side who I’m sure will be back again in the near future. Final Score: Rathkeevin N.S. 4-2 Ballina N.S. 2-1. Rathkeevin : Mathew Brophy, Michael Cleary, Jack Harney (c), Tiernan Ó Ceallaigh, Diarmuid Mulcahy, Daniel Foley, Óisín Napier, Jack Moloney, Daniel Keane, Séan Cotter.