Herlihy’s Heroes

Junior C Football League Final

Brian Dillons 3-16 Glanmire 4-10

“An tslat nuair a chruann le haois is deacair í a shníomh ina gad”

‘When the rod hardens with age, it’s difficult to bend it’, or so says the Irish seanfhocal. And so it proved last night as an aged but hardened Brian Dillons team refused to bend in the face of the pressure exerted on them by a youthful Glanmire outfit.

With the sun setting and the game heading for extra time, one must have questioned whether the 14-man Dillons, who had battled gamely to peg back an eight-point deficit in the second-half, would have the legs to prevail. Ultimately however, a culmination of spirit, resolute defending and some exquisite point-taking by Cillian Brosnan was enough to see them through on a scoreline of 3-16 to 4-10.

Barry Triggs opened the scoring for Brian Dillons when he smartly side-footed the ball over the bar. Glanmire were quick to restore parity however and edged in front soon after, taking full advantage of Dillon’s profligacy at the other end. Thereafter, Glanmire took control of the game, with Dillons struggling to get to grips with their powerful runners at midfield. Some heroics by Steve Coughlan prevented a certain goal but two goals either side of the water break put Glanmire firmly in control.

To give the Brian Dillons management their due, they were quick to rectify the problem and Cian McCarthy was switched to midfield where he excelled. For the remainder of the first half, Dillons were the better of the sides. Philip O’Brien and Kieran Mills worked in tandem to devastating effect on the wing and Dillons began to eat into Glanmire’s lead. O’Brien assumed free-taking duties and his steadiness from placed balls settled the team. At the half-time whistle, five points separated the sides.

However, a third Glanmire goal rocked Dillon’s, who were failing to capitalise on their superiority and at the water-break, Glanmire led by seven and appeared to be home and hosed. Not for the first time though, some shrewd positional switches turned the tide back in Dillon’s favour. Cillian Brosnan was moved to full-forward and aided by  the breeze, Dillons began to launch ball down on top of the Glanmire defence. James Murphy, now at centre-back, powered into the game, and along with Kieran Mills and Kevin Coughlan in the half-back line, began to attack Glanmire at every opportunity. Tommy Boland and Barry Triggs meanwhile, worked tirelessly, winning dirty ball and negating any Glanmire attacks.

Finally, Dillons were rewarded for their efforts. With less than ten minutes to go, Cillian Brosnan pounced on a long ball to round the keeper and finish smartly from an acute angle. The lead was down to three. Moments later, Kieran Mills finished off a beautifully manoeuvred attack, planting the ball low to the keepers right. Draw game. A helter-skelter finish saw both sides exchange points before the ref blew his whistle, but not before Cian McCarthy was shown a black card for what was deemed a cynical foul. And so, the game headed for extra-time.

With both sides visibly fatigued, scores at either end were hard to come by. Confusion ensued after Dave Coughlan fisted over the bar, only to have his score disallowed by the referee. Two points in arrears with less than ten to play, Brian Dillons needed to summon everything in their arsenal to claw their way back into the game. Buoyed by Cian McCarthy’s reintroduction however, Dillon’s soon regained control. Three quick points in succession from Kevin Varian, Cillian Brosnan and Darren McGrath put Dillons in front and when Darren McGrath fisted home for a goal, five points separated the sides. A Glanmire goal at the death meant a nail-biting finish but some stout defending from Andrew Murphy and Damien Horgan ensured that Dillons were not to be denied.

The older the whistle, the finer the tune.

Dillons Abú