Davis denied in Under 21 Championship decider

By Fergus Balfe 




 TWO late goals were required for Ballymun Kickhams to see off Thomas Davis, who came up just short in their Under 21 Football Championship decider, in wet conditions at O’Toole Park on Saturday.

The final scoreline did not reflect how tight a battle it was, greatly flattering Ballymun who were pushed all the way by a spirited Davis outfit.

Thomas Davis V Ballymun 04

Davy Keogh is tracked by Ballymun's Glen Doyle (pic: Echo photographer Paddy Barrett) 

The Tallaght side got off to a perfect start, hitting the net with the game just a few minutes old, as half-forward Ciarán Melligan’s free struck the bar, and corner forward Stephen O’Byrne was quickest to react to palm the rebound into the goal.

Ballymun were clinical in their conversion of chances, and kept the scoreboard ticking over with points from forwards Cian Gerrard, Dillon Keating and Dublin Senior panellist Paddy Small.

At the other end Davis were largely wasteful, shooting numerous wides, though they did retake the lead when midfielder Eamon Conroy finished a good score, following patient play from wing forward Conor Guilfoyle.

This was backed up by a Mark Nolan free soon after, but a prolific final five minutes of a low-scoring half saw Ballymun surge in front, as Dublin Senior goalkeeper Evan Comerford drove over a free, before a Carl Keeley effort dropped short and was fisted over by full-forward Glenn Doyle.

A great ball forward by Small found Keeley in space moments later, but he put the goal chance over the bar, before a quick counter-attack was finished by Keating to put Kickhams up by two at the interval, 0-7 to 1-2.

The score of the game arrived moments into the second period, as Davis’s Melligan fired over from range on the left for a rousing score out of nothing.

However, this would prove to be a rare chink of light on a gloomy day, with Ballymun picking up where they left off through scores from Doyle, Keeley and Daragh Conlon.

The introduction of substitute Adam Fitzpatrick gave Thomas Davis a much-needed boost, and he soon made a scoring impact, exchanging passes with O’Byrne before coolly curling over.

A further free and a brilliant length-of-the-field score finished by Fitzpatrick after accurate interplay between ‘keeper Dylan Caffrey, midfielder Owen Lambert and replacement Paul Kennedy, reduced the deficit to just two points with five minutes remaining.

Just when it seemed the Davis comeback was gaining momentum at the right time, Ballymun struck the crucial blow, as corner forward Anton Swan swung the ball across, and Doyle rose highest to punch it into the net.

A couple of super Small frees, along with an excellent team goal converted by midfielder James Talbot then added gloss in stoppage time, as Kickhams captain Keeley collected the cup.

THOMAS DAVIS: D. Caffrey, J. Lambert, S. Kennedy, R. Lynch, D. Keogh, O. Kelly, C. Nugent-Byrne, E. Conroy, O. Lambert, S. Farrelly, C. Melligan, C. Guilfoyle, S. O’Byrne, M. Nolan, K. Winders, A. Fitzpatrick, G. Cummins, P. Kennedy.

BALLYMUN KICKHAMS: E. Comerford, S. Leahy, A. George, D. Conlon, C. Keeley, L. Young, C. Deasy, A. Elliot, J. Talbot, C. Gerrard, D. Keating, C. O’Tighe, P. Small, G. Doyle, A. Swan, C. McCormack, C. Kavanagh, M. Juszczak, K. McDonnell, A. Conway, K. Deegan.

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