St Molaise Gaels survive late penalty drama to lift U20 A title

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U20 A championship final

Sunday 12 December, 2021

Kent Park Sligo

Referee: Michael Duffy


St Molaise Gaels 0-16; Ballymote/Bunninadden 1-11

A dramatic last-minute penalty save from St Molaise Gaels goalkeeper Paul Mullarkey closed a 15 year gap to take the Sligo U20 championship back to north Sligo for the first time since 2006 at Kent Park in Ballydougan on Sunday last,

It was the final act in an absorbing contest with Ballymote / Bunninadden where the sides were only once, and briefly, more than two points apart. 

After an early morning pitch inspection, which passed the St Mary’s grounds as fit to play despite heavy overnight and ongoing rain, each side made one change to their starting lines ups. Minor All-Ireland team of the year awardee Luke Marren came in from the start for Ballymote / Bunninadden while penalty hero Mullarkey was a late call up in goal for St Molaise Gaels.

Despite playing into the breeze the north Sligo side opened the scoring with a Daniel O’Connor point, but brothers Jack and Michael Lavin hit back quickly with a point each to put Ballymote/Bunninadden ahead for the first time.

St Molaise Gales continued to defy the elements however and had a period of dominance to open up a four-point lead with points from Jack Davitt, a Michael Langan free, James Heraghty and two points from John Heraghty to hit the 15 minute mark 0-6 to 0-2 ahead.

The second quarter of the game was dominated by Oisin Gorman as the Ballymote /Bunninadden full forward came storming into the game.

His first score was a point to leave three between the sides. He then manged to manoeuvre inside the last line of the St Molaise defence to hit the back of the net from close range despite a despairing attempted block by Mullarkey to leave the sides all square again at the first water break 1-3 to 0-6.

Gorman pointed again immediately on the resumption to give his side the lead but Langan responded almost immediately to bring St Molaise’s level again. 

The East Sligo combination however were now making better use of the conditions and got Gorman in again for two further points, one from a free to lead by two with half time approaching.

A pint from Zac O’Dowd and a free each from John Heraghty and Michael Langan closed out the first half to leave a single point between the sides at the turnover, 1-7 to 0-9 in favour of Ballymote/Bunninadden.

The half time leaders were first out of the blocks for the second half also with an Oisín Brennan point to go two up but frees from John Heraghty and a point from play by Langan levelled again 12 minutes into the second half.

Gorman and John Heraghty swapped frees before Michael Langan popped over a fee to put St Molaise back in front just at the second water break.

Both sides started to make changes and it was to telling effect as St Molaise brought on corner forward Jack McGovern, who featured in Sligo’s victorious Connacht minor victory earlier this year, and who wasted no time getting on the scoresheet to extend the St Molaise’s lead.

Ballymote /Bunninadden captain Jack Lavin made sure his side stayed in touch with a quick point, but the energetic McGovern was quick to reply with his second keeping St Molaise Gaels ahead.

Gorman and John Heraghty exchanged points to maintain the margin as time closed in, but the game was to have its most dramatic moment at the death when a combination of Oisin Sheridan and Joseph Keaney got in a tangle of legs that brought down Luke Marren in the penalty area leaving referee Michael Duffy with no option but to point to the spot.

Stand in goalkeeper Mullarkey was up to the task though, batting way the penalty away for a 45 which Ballymote’s Cian Kilcoyne was unable to convert into the wind.

It was to be the final threat to either goal as St Molaise held possession throughout added time to finish two points to the good,

Having contested five finals this year in league, championships and Kiernan Cup the victory will be a boost to the development of a young team, many of whom will be eligible for this grade again in 2022. Likewise, Ballymote /Bunninadden will look to the future with optimism having come so close on the day without influence and leadership of the injured joint captain Matthew Clavin and having also won the U17 B Championship just three weeks ago.


Ballymote/Bunninadden: Cian Kilcoyne; Ronan Keenan, James O’Brien, Patrick McDonagh; Kyle Gormanlly, Conor Mitchell, Tristan Regan; Jack Lavin (0-2), Shane Murray; Michael Lavin (0-1), Zak O’Dowd (0-1); Roland Scanlon; Oisín Brennan (0-1), Oisín Gorman (1-6 3f), Luke Hogge. Subs: Shane Rafferty for Murray, Jim Sweeney for Gormanlly, Oisín Moffatt for Tristan Regan.

St. Molaise Gaels: Paul Mullarkey; Tola Carway, Ethan Watters, Oisín Gilmartin, Josh Fallon, John Kerins, Michael Gillen; Joseph Keaney, Luke Casserly; Marc Heraghty, Jack Davitt(0-1), John Heraghty(0-6 3f); Daniel O’Connor (0-1), James Heraghty (0-1), Michael Langan (0-5, 4f). Subs: Oisín Sheridan for Oisín Gilmartin, Jack McGovern (0-2) for Daniel O’Connor