O’Tooles 2-13 Castleknock 3-7
It started as a lovely morning in Blunden Drive with the pitch in fantastic condition. It’s been a while since O’Tooles won a football championship at any grade and there was a great crowd out to watch this Minor E Football Championship final v Castleknock. O’Tooles were without expert marksman Luke Webster who picked up an ankle injury last week. Luke had been top scorer in many of the other matches earlier in the campaign.
The game Started at a frenetic pace with both teams running at each other with some great passages of play and attractive attacking football. The pace never let up for the entire 60 minutes.
In the first five minutes Castleknock seemed to be on top in midfield and the forwards and O’Tooles were struggling to keep possession. Castleknock scored a well worked goal at the 5 minute mark after working the ball through the lines.
7 minutes in, Aaron Cooling delivered a 40 meter pass to Conn Rock who flicked it on to free man Luke Gifford who was dragged down. The Ref gave a penalty which was calmly dispatched to the net by Midfielder Jason O’Reilly
Castleknock worked the kick out straight up the pitch to convert a nice point. O’Tooles were now starting to come more into the match. Aaron Keating was starting to pull all of the strings around the middle of the pitch. A ball from him to Conn Rock and on to Sean Maher who took a tidy point saw the score at 1-2 to 1-1 after 10 minutes.
On the 14 minute mark Castleknock strung a long line of passes together and worked the ball right into the O’Tooles net. A mistake from the resulting kick out saw Castleknock turn over possession and add another point. With that, the ref blew for the first water break: The score O’Tooles 1-1 Castleknock 2-3
Immediately upon the restart, Castleknock piled on the pressure by adding another goal. O’Tooles were now 8 points down.
O’Tooles now dug deep and the momentum of the game was to change entirely. Where Castleknock had been dominating in midfield, Ben McGibney and Aaron Keating were now getting on top. Aaron added three points in 5 minutes and paddy Smith kicked a free.
On 27 minutess, Luke Gifford won a free after winning possession of a hopping ball 21 yards out andPaddy Smith converted the resuting free. Luke Gifford then got on another delivery from Aaron Cooling and sent a high loopy ball from 40 yards out over the bar.
O’Tooles are now firing on all cylinders – Cian Davey and Karol Elliott were winning everything in the backs and the inside forward line of Conn Rock and Luke Gifford was on fire winning ball after ball. On 29 mins, Conn Rock gets the point of the match after Jason O’Reilly had covered all of 50 meters on a solo run and passed the ball into him.
Right on the stroke of half time Aaron Keating beat 3 Castleknock players and delivered a great pass to Luke Gifford who rattled the net. Half time is blown, 2-8 to 3-4, O’Tooles a point up.
In the first minute of the second half, Sean Maher landed a shot short but it bounced over the keeper and over the bar. Castleknock return the favour, pointing from the passage of play from the resulting kick out.
On the 35 minute mark Paddy Smith kicks another point from a free and almost immediately, despite some heroic defending from O’Tooles, Castkeknock score another point.
On 38 minutes, Sean Maher seems to take on half of the Castleknock team and beats at least 5 men with a great solo run, he then hands it out to Paddy Smith who takes a great point from 45 meters out. Soon afterwards Jason O’Reilly wins a free on the 21 after a great run, it’s a left footers free and Aaron Keating does the honours.
O’Tooles are playing great football and the defenders seem to be making interception after interception in defence, likewise with Castleknock – The pace is relentless. O’Tooles are 3 up but with all of the possession they are enjoying it feels like more.
At the 42 minute mark, O’Tooles make two substitutions: Adam Graham for Evan O’Neill and Leon Deanes for Aaron Dixon.
Just before the second water break, Castleknock split the O’Tooles defence in half, there are men on the overlap everywhere. The corner forward shoots narrowly wide in what could be a match-defining moment.
After a period of Castleknock pressure Paddy Smith gets on the end of a clearance out of defence and after a series of passes gets back on the ball within his own 45 yard line, he’s dragged down and Aaron Keatng points the free. At the second water break O’Tooles lead by 4 points 2-13 to 3-6.
In the final quarter Karol Elliott is dominant in defence and putting in a man of the match-like performance. On the 48 minute mark Darragh McElroy makes way for Owen Fitzpatrick, a man not long out of sick bay
The last 10 minutes are played at an incredible pace. Huge tackles go in everywhere and players fight tooth and nail for every possession – real championship final stuff.
At this point, the subs are making a huge impact for O’Tooles with Owen Fitzpatrick and Leon Deanes getting on loads of ball. Castleknock draw the game back to 3 points with 4 mins left with a well taken free. It’s absolute end to end stuff now with Paddy Smith and Aaron Keating forcing saves from the keeper after 1 on 1 situations.
In a nervy last 2 minutes tempers fray and O’Tooles lose Leon Deanes to a red card. Casteknock now needing to work a goal to tie the game, move the ball well around their forward line but just can’t get clear through on goal.
In additional time Castleknock are thrown a lifeline when they are awarded a 21 yard free. It looks like it will be the last kick of game, they put it wide and the ref blows for full time. Several O’Tooles men are worth a mention, their selfless hard work off the ball allowed the forwards to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Evan Caul worked his socks off at full back, Aaron Cooling held the defence together and set up attack after attack all day and Conn Rock ran himself into the ground and put in huge tackles all day
As captain of the team, Aaron Cooling accepted the cup and even said a few words before the celebrations began. Hard luck to Castleknock, neither team deserved to lose such a hard fought final. Well done to all players, subs, parents and managers involved with the team, the future of football in O’Tooles looks secure.
Full Time score O’Tooles 2-13 to Castleknock 3-7
Aaron Byrne, Cian Davey, Evan Caul, Evan O’Neill, Karol Eliott, Aaron Cooling, Darragh McElroy, Ben McGibney, Jason O’Reilly, Aaron Dixon, Seán Maher, Paddy Smith, Luke Gifford, Conn Rock, Aaron Keating
Aaron Keating 0-5
Paddy Smith 0-4
Luke Gifford 1-1
Jason O’Reilly 1-0
Sean Maher 0-2
Conn Rock 0-1