Na Gaeil bowled over by Moyvane

The Kerryman – (October 26th, 2006)

When the going got tough the tough men of Moyvane got going in the final quarter of this Novice Championship final in Tralee last Sunday to capture a much needed and thoroughly deserved county title.

County League form suggested that this was Na Gaeil’s title for the taking – the Tralee side have secured promotion from Division 4 as champions while Moyvane languish at the foot of the same division. However, if ever the old adage that league form counts for little or nothing when it comes to the white-hot intensity of championship was proven correct then Moyvane certainly proved it here with a perfectly peaked performance.

While this final might have lacked a little of the tempo of senior championship football, there was definitely no scrimping on the passion and industry served up by both sides. Nor was there any lack of prodigious scoring, with a wealth of fine scores throughout.

However, Moyvane showed the better spread of scoring ability with all six starting forwards scoring, along with midfielder Sean Lynch chipping in with a crucial 13th minute goal, which put Moyvane in front for the first time and from which they would never again be behind.

Crucial to this win also was Eddie Bowler’s free-taking expertise, with the Moyvane captain knifing over eight frees in all. Ironically, while Bowler was guilty of a couple of close-range misses at vital stages, his accuracy held up much better from long-range efforts, and two second half free kicks were, possibly, the defining scores of the match.

With 12 minutes remaining Na Gaeil were still hanging on and giving themselves every chance of snatching victory. With the sides level at 1-8 each, Bowler was presented with a rudimentary looking 20-metre free, just right of the target. He shanked it a few feet wide. Coupled with two earlier misses from similarly easy terrain, it seemed as if Bowler’s bad luck might cost his team.

Five minutes later the Moyvane captain stood over a 40-metre kick and nailed it to give his side the lead for the second time, and two minutes later he doubled that lead from outside the ‘45’. Two darts, two bullseyes. Game over.

From there, Moyvane drew on their last reserves of conviction and strength and wrote another 1-3 after their name before Na Gaeil could draw breath, with Cathal O’Connor’s 58th minute goal putting just a tad of flattery to the scoreline, with a gutsy Na Gaeil hardly deserving to be on the end of a seven-point defeat.

Still, there was a determination and conviction about Moyvane that Na Gaeil just seemed to lack, and with Jackie Mulvihill epitomising that will to win Moyvane drove on to what they appeared to believe was their destiny. That was once they got over Na Gaeil’s bright start that – briefly – hinted at their respective league form.

After an early converted free from Gearoid Hussey, Eamon O’Neill put Na Gaeil into a three-point lead with two very well worked points, as the Tralee side made all the early running, especially around midfield where Moyvane struggled to settle.

Bowler did get them off the mark in the 11th minute after Na Gaeil keeper Mike Barrett made a rash clearance straight to Bowler and then committed an even rasher challenge on him on the edge of the ‘square’.

It was the first sign of a lack of composure in the Na Gaeil defence and they paid an even bigger price two minutes later for it. John J Mulvihill started a move well out the field, but with Na Gaeil failing to close it down, the ball ball moved between the entire full forward line before Lynch got on the end of the move to drive it past Barrett to put Moyvane 1-1 to 0-3 ahead.

Thereafter Moyvane established themselves in all the key areas with Mossy Mulvihill and Denis Kennelly anchoring a stubborn Moyvane defence, Lynch and John J Mulvihill getting the upperhand on Niall Lyons and David Culloty at centrefield and Jackie Mulvihill injecting the energy in the attack for county minor Patrick Curtin, Cathal O’Connor and Bowler, especially, to feed off.

A pair of points from Curtin and a huge score from Maurice Kearney helped Moyvane to a five-point lead after 28 minutes but just when it seemed they would take that lead to the break Na Gaeil struck for a super goal.

A cracking 40-metre run from Seanie O’Neill saw the corner forward crack a shot off the underside of the crossbar and Dermot Flaherty reacted quickest to the rebound to fist the ball past Pascal Sweeney as Na Gaeil retired at the break 1-7 to 1-4 behind.

In the third quarter points from Hussey and Culloty bookended a pair of converted frees from Bowler as na Gaeil clawed their way to parity – 1-8 each – by the 47th minute.

Then came Bowler’s shanked free followed by those two steely-nerved efforts as the game entered the final

minutes, with Moyvane growing in stature to ease home to a fully deserved victory that will give them great confidence ahead of the North Kerry championship, even though they might well be a County League Division 5 side in the next few weeks.