An amazing performance by Ronan Holcroft ensured that St Fechin’s won the 2011 Avonmore Junior Football Championship.
Holcroft who hit a stunning 2-8 in total may have set a championship final record, but it was the all round showing from the Termonfeckin side that saw them lift Christy Bellew and climb the ranks to Intermediate in 2012.
From the opening whistle they had everything right, their attitude, their focus and temperament as they raced into a huge half time lead of 1-10 to 0-1.
By that point, it was almost damage limitation for the Emmets as they tried in vain to topple the Fechin’s.
Coming into the Championship, the Fechin’s – who were 2008 finalists – were installed as heavy favourites, a tag they shouldered the burden of from the beginning. They wobbled once or twice throughout the campaign, but in the end, they saved their most dominant performance for when it was really needed, the final.
Sometimes credit has to be paid to teams and this is one time where a team cannot be praised enough for a whirlwind performance as poor Glen Emmets were left mesmerised by the movement, vision and tactics of the Fechin’s.
It was not to be Tullyallen’s day, but they are moving in the right direction and if they can keep their hunger, then 2012 may be their time. But this year, Christy Bellew belonged to the Fechin’s who will look forward to battling it out with some of Louth’s big guns next season.
Man of the moment
Holcroft – after hitting a goal in each half – rightfully took home the man of the match award but more importantly for him and Termonfeckin supporters, Harry McArdle lifted the cup.
Playing with the wind in the first half after winning the toss, the Fechin’s made the most of the strong Dunleer breeze as they tore the Emmets asunder from the throw-in.
Holcroft’s movement alongside Niall and Brian Devlin created the space needed for the Fechin’s to punish the Emmets and when they needed an executioner, they did not have to look further than Holcroft who was in inspired form.
He opened the scoring after two minutes and after his teammates hit a series of wides, he settled their nerves by chipping in with two more scores, the second an angled shot from the left hand side.
Making an advance forward, David Collier chipped in with the Fechin’s next score as he showed some quick feet to elude Tom Grimes and send the ball over the bar.
At this point, the Emmets were reeling as they struggled to break into the final third of the pitch and before they knew it, the Fechin’s had stretched their lead.
Colm O’Neill’s score was finally followed by an Emmets score as Keith Rooney split the posts from a free kick.
However, whatever hopes the Tullyallen men had of kicking on were dashed as a score from Bevan Duffy, who smacked the ball with his laces dipped over the bar. Jamie King further inflicted salt into the wounds of the Emmets as he intercepted the ball from Aidan Monahan’s pass. Driving forward, King took his point when a goal was on offer, a sign that the Fechin’s were keeping their composure at all times.
Holcroft turned on the style once again on 27 minutes when he twisted in from the left to raise the white flag. He did so once again a minute later as he squeezed in between two players to fire over.
Just as the half was coming to a close, there was room for one more bit of drama and it was a killer blow to the hopes of the Emmets.
Stephen Healy dragged the advancing Mark Hynes to the surface just as Hynes was about to pull the trigger for a goal.
Referee Gerry Malone had no option but to award a penalty and there was only one man that fit the bill to send the ball home. Holcroft stepped up and forcefully drilled the ball into the net.
The whistle then came for half time as the Fechin’s basically had one hand on the cup.
Holcroft opened the scoring in the second half before the Emmets finally had a purple patch themselves as Damien Grimes, Eamonn Mullen and Stephen Healy managed to reduce the deficit.
But every time the Emmets got going, Holcroft would find a way of derailing them as he finished off a clever move involving Ryan Sheridan and Brian Devlin.
A free kick from the Emmets’ Stephen Murphy was the reply but time was running out for the Emmets as they lagged far behind the free scoring Fechin’s. Damien Grimes got their eighth point of the day, but again, the Fechin’s had the perfect response as Brian Devlin made it 1-14 to 0-8 with 13 minutes remaining.
The game was put to bed on 50 minutes as that man again Holcroft capped off a whirlwind performance, grabbing his second goal.
Accepting a pass from Eoghan Duffy, the skilled sharpshooter rounded the Emmets ‘keeper Fergus Barnett. As he dodged the challenge of Barnett, Holcroft spilled the ball, but still managed to poke it home into an empty net.
At that point, it was game over, but there was still time for the Emmets to find the net as Keith Farnan rattled the net. The Emmets were awarded a penalty which Eamonn Mullen struck hard down the centre of the goal.
Fechin’s netminder Mark Savage managed to keep it out with his legs, but Farnan capitalised to strike the ball into the net, but it did not matter as the Fechin;s lifted the trophy.
Scorers – ST FECHIN’S: Ronan Holcroft (2-8, 1f, 1P), Ryan Sheridan (0-2), David Collier, Colm O’Neill, Bevan Duff, Jamie King, Brian Devlin, Niall Devlin, all (0-1).
GLEN EMMETS: Keith Farnan (1-1), Eamon Mullen (0-3, 2f), Stephen Healy (0-2), Keith Rooney, Stephen Murphy, both (0-1, 1f), Damien Grimes (0-1).
ST FECHIN’S: Mark Savage; Brendan Fanning, David Collier, Paul Dillon; Mark Hynes, Conor Haughney, Harry McArdle; John McGlew, Bevan Duffy; Jamie King, Colm O’Neill, Ryan Sheridan; Brian Devlin, Niall Devlin, Ronan Holcroft. Subs: Fergal McNally for P Dillon (5mins), Eoghan Duffy for M Hynes (40mins), James Devereaux for F McNally (53mins), Leo Cunningham for R Sheridan (53), Derek Younger for J King (58mins).
GLEN EMMETS: Fergus Barnett; Aidan Monahan, Tom Grimes, Colin Carolan; Danny Whyte, Stephen Murphy, Gordon Healy; Keith Lynch, Stephen Healy; Ian Cusack, Eamonn Mullen, Ronan Grufferty; Keith Rooney, Eamonn Taaffe, David Bracken. Subs: Andrew Mooney for R Grufferty (15mins), Damien Grimes for E Taaffe (33mins), Martin Morgan for I Cusack (38mins), Keith Farnan for S Healy (50mins), Keith Boylan for D Whyte (54mins).
Wides - ST FECHIN’S: 10 (8 first half), GLEN EMMETS: 7 (3 first half).
Bookings – ST FECHIN’S: David Collier (18mins), Ryan Sheridan (43mins). GLEN EMMETS: Eamonn Taaffe (18mins).
Referee: Gerry Malone.