Naomh Fionnbarra recorded an extremely narrow victory over Na Piarsaigh in The Grove, Castlebellingham on Saturday evening in the Quarter Final of the Junior Football Championship. Na Piarsaigh started brightest and raced into a 1-3 to 0-2 lead at the first water break, the Barrs scores coming from the boot of William Woods via 2 frees. The Dundalk men could have been further ahead but for a goal line clearance from Kalum Regan. 3 further points from Woods including 1 free and 2 from play including an excellent score from long range kept the Barrs in the hunt. The men from the Rock road had the upper hand in the first half as the Barrs laboured with their play and failed to find their rhythm. Half time score: Naomh Fionnbarra 0-5(5) Na Piarsaigh 1-5(8).
The Barrs made the better start to the second half with the first 3 points coming from to draw level with 2 more from Woods (1 free) and 1 from play from Conor Osborne. Both sides exchanged points with the Barrs score coming from Conor Osborne to maintain the status quo. The Barrs were then hit with a sucker punch against the run of play with a Na Piarsaigh goal from play via a well worked counter attack. The Barrs also lost their midfielder and captain Darren McConnon to injury around this time. The Finbarrs are made of stern stuff and re grouped and 2 further Woods frees reduced the deficit back to a single score. The Dundalk men scored the next point to increase their lead to 2 points with 5 minutes plus injury time left to play. 2 frees from the boot of William Woods drew the Barrs level and a point from play by Eoghan Osborne put the Togher men ahead for the first time with time almost up. However, there was still time for the Rock Road men to equalise. Full time score: Naomh Fionnbarra 0-14(14) Na Piarsaigh 2-8(14). Extra time now beckoned.
The Finbarrs started the second half on fire as they hit a purple patch and played their best football of the game. 2 points from play by Woods were followed up by points from play by Conor Osborne and Ciaran Markey as the Barrs took a commanding 4 point lead. Back came the Dundalk men and they capitalised in a mix up in the Togher defence to score a goal and then they followed up with a point to equalise. Half time extra time score: Naomh Fionnbarra 0-18(18) Na Piarsaigh 3-9(18).
Both sides had given everything at this stage and cancelled each other out in the second period of extra time with some heroic defending by both sides. The Togher men took the lead with time almost up via a 9th William Woods free and it looked like they had 1 foot in the semi final. In a game of twists and turns, Na Piarsaigh refused to lie down and equalised at the death with a free. Half time extra time score: Naomh Fionnbarra 0-19(18) Na Piarsaigh 3-10(19).
As the result had to be decided on the day it was left to a penalty shoot out to determine the winner. The Finbarrs started off the shoot out and William Woods scored, Matthew O'Rielly (on as a sub keeper) saved from Na Piarsaigh's David Boyle, Eoghan Osborne scored for the Barrs and Na Piarsaigh got off the mark from Mark Larkin, Liam Shevlin then scored with a screamer in the top corner, Na Piarsaigh scored to keep the pressure on the Togher men. Up next was Conor Osborne but he hit the ball wide. Michael Woods then scored for the Dundalk men and the scores were level 3-3. Ciaran Markey hit the last penalty for the Barrs but he blazed high and wide and Joe Woods had the chane to claim the victory for the Rock Road men. Luckily, as far as everyone from Togher were concerned he hit the post and the shoot out went to sudden death. Once again William Woods buried his penalty and the pressure was on David Boyle to redeem himself and keep Na Piarsaigh in the game. He missed and the Finbarrs were through to the Junior Championship Semi final!
Up next weekend is the Junior Championship Semi Final with opposition, time and venue to be confirmed, Up the Barrs!
Naomh Fionnbarra team: Daithi Woods; Brendan Simms, Josh Crosbie, Kalum Regan; Colin McGrane, Hugh McGrane, James Butterly; Darren McConnon, Ciaran Markey 0-1; Conor Osborne 0-3, Liam Shevlin, Pádraig Butterly; Adam Hanratty, William Woods 0-14(9f), Thomas McCreesh. Subs: Máirtin Murphy for Thomas McCreesh, Michael Mcardle for Pádraig Butterly, Patrick McGrane for Darren McConnon, Eoghan Osborne 0-1 for Adam Hanratty. Extra time: Matthew O'Reilly for Daithi Woods.