It was a great occasion for Parnells to be involved in the first club final at McGovern Park in Ruislip since the new ground was opened in May. The team had some great games along the way to secure their place in the final and were looking forward to playing KKG in the Cara Stationary Conway Cup.
As the teams warmed up in the new training area, the crowds gathered in the new stand and it was fair to say that Parnells had support in great numbers. A cross section of old familiar faces along with many of the clubs’ youth players and their families, all decked out in their various club colours and attire sat and chatted, discussing the forth coming game.
The team entered onto the pitch to a rousing reception and the scene was set for a great game. The throw in was at 7.20 and the action started straight away. Within the first minute, Parnells were awarded a free, taken by Seamus Stenson but it went wide. However a couple of minutes later, Eanna Flaherty pointed a score straight through the posts. It took over four minutes for KKG to get into Parnells half and put their first score on the board from right out near the side line. After a miss placed kick by Evan Byrne (in goal), the pressure was back on the Parnells defence but the ball came out and saw Jamie Barry play it out down the wing, finding Ryan Forde who powered through but the final ball he delivered couldn’t find anyone. The next 5 minutes or so saw KKG put a further two points on their tally and take an early lead 0-1 to 0-3.
Parnells responded well and a great kick out from Evan found Martin Carroll who collected the ball under pressure from KKG; after being fouled, the referee signalled advantage but with none gained, took the ball back for a free from which Parnells put another point on the scoreboard. For the next five minutes both teams battled away but attempts at scoring produced wides or dropping short. At last Parnells got another score on the board through some great link play. Parnells put KKG under great pressure, a wide, a point from Jamie Barry and then hit the post. Both teams added points to their tallies over the next 10 minutes. KKG defended well under pressure but Parnells failed to capitalise initially and then suddenly found the next gear and after a well taken free by Dave O’Sullivan, the team drove on with scores from Eanna and then the goal hitting the back of the net from Matthew Leneghan. Parnells were piling the pressure on and Connor Spinks had two point scoring opportunities but both were narrowly wide. The last minute of the first half both teams scored one more point each, the last coming from Jake Moran. As the teams left the field the half time score was 1 – 08 to 0 – 5.
Parnells returned for the second half unchanged and were the dominant team. However, KKG had other ideas. Two points in the first two minutes by them saw the start of a comeback. Parnells gave them too much room and when they contested the ball, frees were given. KKG started to claw their way back in to the game. Ball handling errors and wides meant that Parnells couldn’t respond to the scores KKG were mounting up. Two substitutions came on for Parnells, Paul Jacobson for Gearoid McCarthy and Matthew McHugh for Matthew Leneghan. The changes helped and the momentum of the game swayed the other way when Evan came out of goal pulled off a great save stopping a certain goal 15 minutes in to the second half.
This boosted the team and Jake Moran came out of the half back line scoring a great point but again KKG pegged them back and then after KKG responded with a point, Eanna was sent off after receiving two yellow cards. Parnells were really under pressure. Their half time lead had been eaten into; KKG got the next point and it was a draw game. After Ryan Forde missed a free, KKG scored the next three points. Parnells were working hard and had some great runs but struggled to respond and couldn’t convert their efforts to scores, Seamus Stenson had the last say; converting a free and then a point and a last free to make it a draw just before the final whistle. A draw at full time 0 – 15 to 1 – 12.
For a short time there seemed confusion as to what was happening but then it was confirmed, extra time would be played, 10 minutes each way. The supporters already exhausted by an exhilarating game shouted encouragement to the team. The first minute saw more drama when Evan saved a shot with his legs. Then Parnells upped their playing level to another gear and within the next 5 minutes, Connor Spinks caused mayhem in the KKG defence, his change of position up to the full forward line worked, scoring two goals. KKG were rattled but responded by adding 2 points. Extra time half time score was 3 – 12 to 0 – 17, a lead of 4 points Parnells and definitely in the driving seat.
The ball was throw in was at 20.58 pm with the evening drawing in. Within 7 minutes, KKG had scored a further 3 points, only a point advantage now to Parnells but Connor Spinks managed to extend the Parnells lead when he pointed his score. The lead was back to 2 points. KKG were throwing everything in to the game but couldn’t manage to score, 5 wides in total. The clock was ticking and just when the final whistle was approaching, Connor Spinks scored a spectacular volley hitting the back of the goal; only to be disallowed due to one of the players over carrying it. The supporters waited for the final whistle and victory was in their grasp. However the referee seemed to have found additional time and just when Parnells should have been celebrating, KKG scored a goal at 21.10pm to clinch a last minute victory. The whistle blew at 21.11pm! Final Score 3 – 13 to 1- 20.
The supported and players were in shock and couldn’t believe the end result. It was certainly a game of highs and lows and without doubt all the players emptied their tanks. Well done to everyone involved and I’m sure the management and players will reflect on this result and use it to add inspiration and determination for games later in the season.
Team: Evan Byrne, Alan Callanan, Brian Foody, Sean O’Donnell, Jake Moran (0-3), Steve Devine, Gearoid McCarthy, Ryan Forde, Martin Carroll, Jamie Barry (0-2), Seamus Stenson (0- 2f/1p), Connor Spinks (2-1), Matt Leneghan (1-0), Eanna Flaherty (0-2), sent off 2 Yellow cards, Save O’Sullivan (0-2f). Subs: Paul Jacobson for Gearoid McCarthy, Matt McHugh for Matt Leneghan, Calum Diggins for Matt McHugh, Matt Leneghan for Dave O’Sullivan, Fraser Beckles, JP Roache, Jack Diggins, Denis Toomey and Jamie Murphy.