Knocknacarra hang on for hard fought win in U12 Connacht Shield

The gulf in standard between Colemanstown Div 4 contenders and premier league side Knocknacarra was not that clearly evident as the premier league visitors were put to the pin of their collar to grind out a result in the U12 Connacht Shield at home on Saturday morning.  If anyone needed confirmation of the gulf between both sides, well you had to look fairly hard. Colemanstown indicated they would make a game of this from the word go and were never far off the pace of the game. It was tit for tat for the first 11mins as the injured Dylan Murphy had to be substituted early on which saw the introduction of Cian Burke who was tenacious in his tackling and in winning the ball back. Knocknacarra opened the scoring with a speculative shot from a good distance out which Fionn Flattery got his hands to but was unable to hold on to while the momentum of the shot just about brought it over the line; in fact it did not even find the back of the net. 3mins later Patrick Flynn was fouled in the middle of the park and Jonah Donnellan’s perfectly executed free kick 3 yards inside his own half whizzed past the hapless keeper and looped nicely into the top corner.

Cathal Kennedy had a good effort but the visiting custodian got down well to parry the ball out for a corner which resulted to nothing while Daniel Melia had a couple of half chances. Knocknacarra took the lead again 4mins before the break following a 2nd consecutive corner which was nicely scooped into the 6’ box and while it bounced in the area;  their striker was perfectly positioned to head home the bouncing ball. One wondered would this open the floodgates or would the young Colemanstown lads hold their nerve and eke out a few more chances. Half time: Knocknacarra 2; Colemanstown 1.

The 2nd half was only 2mins old when Fionn Flattery got down well to make a smashing save at the butt of the post for Colemanstown. 4mins later Jonah Donnellan cracked the ball to the net to equalise proceedings in an exact replica of his first free kick, again after the hard working Paddy Flynn was fouled. David Walsh’s left footed diagonal cross into the area almost met the head of Killian Hughes, another inch or two on Killian would have made the difference in the connection as the ball went agonisingly out wide. At this stage Killian Hughes, Jonah Donnellan, David Walsh and Ross Lally were simply lording the defence as Cathal Kennedy was driving forward on every opportunity. Ella Carroll won a free after her introduction, this time taken by David Walsh but was well defended by Knocknacarra. 16mins into the 2nd half Fionn Flattery made another top class save with a certain goal whipped off the line by the back tracking David Walsh & Colemanstown could breathe a momentary sigh of relief. However, the resultant play saw the ball whipped back in and as Fionn Flattery was grounded a combined effort of Ross Lally and Jonah Donnellan sliding in were unable to keep the ball from crossing the goal line as both players got entangled in the net in the process. As Knocknacarra were stealing a little march on Colemnastown, they came more into the game; Fionn Flattery was called upon again with another top drawer save. Then Killian Hughes put Paddy Flynn through and both players were upended in the process. Would Jonah Donnellan work some more magic with the free kick – NO – this time it flew well over the crossbar. As Colemanstown fought like cats and dogs in search of the equaliser, Fionn Flattery made a whopping triple save to keep just a solitary score between the sides as tension was mounting. But try as they might these brave young Colemanstown lads just couldn’t pull it out of the fire despite some trojan defending from Diarmuid Ryan towards the latter end of the 2nd half. In the end, a fairytale ending or a big upset was not to be for Jayo Finn & Gary Lally’s soldiers as we wish Knocknacarra the best in the next round of the Connacht Shield.

It was a great experience for our lads and the gulf in class was not as evident given most of the odds were stacked against Colemanstown but they were far from languishing in the doldrums. Well done lads and mentors on a super game.

Squad: Fionn Flattery, Killian Hughes, Jonah Donnellan, David Walsh, Ross Lally, Cathal Kennedy, Paddy Flynn, Dylan Murphy, Daniel Melia, Cian Burke, Ella Carroll, Cathal Hynes, Niamh Kennedy, Diarmuid Ryan, Shane Kenny.