Conditions were good as the Parnells Minor team took to the field in pursuit of the London Minor title.
The opponents were a bit of an unknown quantity in the form of an amalgamated team from the Tara and TCG clubs respectively. From the throw-in it was the Tara/TCG lads who started the livelier of the teams. Indeed, they recorded the first score in the third minute from Aiden Harte and generally looked like they meant business. The Parnells defence worked hard to keep Tara/TCG at bay.
After Ricardo Esteves (extremely steady in goal) collected the ball, Parnells won the kick out and the trio of Josh Obahor, Liam Bakery and Luke Horgan set to work. The ball was then worked up field to the excellent Niall Murphy who after a mistake in the opposition’s defence, recovered the ball and passed to Keiran Rice who pointed in fine style. Parnells visibly grew in confidence from then on and soon began to exhibit some fine cohesive play with all of the forwards looking hungry for the ball. As play continued, both sides exchanged points through frees, with Matthew McHugh putting his name on the score sheet with the first of his accurate free taking opportunities. The talismanic Luke Horgan decided on the 15th minute to go for the jugular and a surging run through the centre led to a fierce shot which hit the Tara/TCG post and bounced towards the corner of the pitch. Niall Murphy, who had been reading the game extremely well, managed to dispossess the corner back and played a “peach” of a pass across the square to Niall Twomey who despite close attention from his marker flicked the ball two-handed to the net. Another point was scored by Mathew McHugh from Niall Murphy’s incisive play.
Tara/TCG kept chipping away and against the run of play a goal was scored. Parnells responded well and kept the pressure up. All the players involved in the build-up of play from the backs and feeding the forwards but points and goals were allusive as Josh Obahor, Keiran Rice and Luke Horgan attempted scores. Unfortunately, at this point Parnells lost Niall Murphy to injury and Luke Horgan to a somewhat puzzling black card. Parnells though introduced two fine substitutes in Eamon Kane and Luke McHugh and then settled down to work. The half time break arrived with the score line of Tara/TCG 1-2 Parnells 1-4. The Manager Tony Griffin used the break to great effect and was able to settle the Parnells lads down and refocus on the task ahead. The formation adapted to the substitutions and Parnells were ‘ready to go’.
Although the second half started with another Tara/TCG point, it saw a rejuvenated Parnells team who had only one thought on their minds and that was winning the game.
The ‘lads’ really cut loose in the third quarter especially. Suddenly ‘men in blue’ were dominating. A total of 8 points were kicked in this period with Matthew McHugh, Kieran Rice and Niall Twomey to the fore. These forwards continued to press and were all equally impressive. Liam Bakery and Josh Obahor were on top in their midfield duel whilst Harry Logan and Neal McNamara were excellent in defence. The backs were certainly not letting Tara/TCG in to the last third and on more than one occasion Eoghan Riley secured a loose ball, intercepted an opposition pass or plucked the ball out of the air. He was magnificent at corner back with his reading of situations and his composed accurate passing to his team mates was superb. Matthew Forkin and Michael Walsh were also tough and tight in defence. Lewis Dickinson was producing his best form of the game out on the wing and made sure the ball was moved forward swiftly. The powerful 15-year-old JoJo Thabu thundered into the game in the half forward line whilst the inside line began to find space and kick points. Ciaran Griffin and Patrick Peach were introduced in the last quarter for Kieran Rice and Niall Twomey who at 15 years old had accumulated 1-3 to his name all from play.
To their credit Tara/TCG actually fought to the final whistle and finished the game strongly but the Parnells lead was too great to overcome. Final Score – Parnells 1 – 12TCG/Tara 1 – 06. This was a victory based on the attributes you would associate with Parnells: pace, power, intensity, controlled aggression and excellent footballing skills. Well done lads. Thank you to referee John Doyle who did a great job.
On a general, Danny Twomey felt that referees must be aware of the lack of competition game time for our London born lads. So, the use of black cards has got to be sensibly addressed. Young guys like Luke Horgan and Conal White from the under 16 final put heart and soul into the sport and to be dismissed so early in these games appears unfair. ‘I’m all for a yellow card if deemed necessary and a good talking to but dishing out black cards is just not right’.
Man of the match: many fine candidates but Eoghan Riley at 15 years old was masterful throughout
Ricardo Estevez, Eoghan Riley, Neil McNamara, Matthew Forkin, JoJo Thabu, Harry Logan, Michael Walsh, Josh Obahor 0-2, Liam Bakery, Lewis Dickinson, Luke Horgan, Kieran Rice 0-1, Niall Twomey 1-3, Matthew McHugh 0-5 3F, Niall Murphy, Luke McHugh, Eamon Kane, Ciaran Griffin, Patrick Peach.