St Gabriel’s made history on Saturday as they won the first-ever penalty shootout at Ruislip, to claim the Collins Cup.
Goalkeeper Padraig Collins was the hero of the hour, saving three Pearse’s penalties, while Niall Eames scored the winning penalty. Eoin Kelly and former Galway star Paul Killeen were also on target for Gabriel’s, while Pearse’s goalkeeper Mike Noonan couldn’t have done much more, saving one Gabriel’s strike and scoring his side’s only penalty. It was the second epic clash between these two sides in the space of just six days. The previous Sunday, Gabriel’s and Pearse’s had needed extra time in Greenford in this original final meeting, only for the game to be abandoned late on when referee Mattie Maher was accidentally injured in a collision with a player.
lt all bodes well for their championship meeting later this year. St. Gabriel’s should have had last Saturday’s final wrapped up in normal time, despite having Cormac Thornton sent off for a straight red card after just 16 minutes for a late pull on Dean Bruen with the score locked at 0-3 apiece.
But that only served to galvanise Gabriel’s and they opened up a 0-9 to 0-4 lead, with Killeen enjoying a very solid debut for St Gabriel’s. A frustrated Pearse’s pegged two of those scores back to go in 0-9 to 0-6 down at the break. By the 41st minute Pearse’s were level; Conor Kennedy, holding off several would-be challengers before showing great deftness of touch to delicately flick the ball over Collins.
Gabriel’s responded well, though, with Gerry Hennelly knocking over the frees to edge them back in front by 0-15 to 1-10 by the second half water break. It was now that Gabriel’s made their bid for victory. Scores from Hennelly (2), Shane Lawless, Willie Brazil and Paddy Naughton looked for all money like propelling Gabriel’s over the line.
Pearse’s looked like a beaten side, but from nothing Peter Egan goaled in the final minute to make it 0-20 to 2-11 and suddenly Gabriel’s became jittery at the back.
And then in the fourth minute of injury time, Kennedy showed great aware ness and coolness to pick out Stephen Frawley in space and his shot beat Collins to send the game into extra-time (0-20 to 3-11). That it would come to extra-time was an outcome that surprised no one.
By half-time in extra-time, with Gabriel’s back up to 15 players, Pearse’s held a slender one-point advantage (3-15 to 0-23). That was thanks to Kennedy (3) and Frawley, despite Pearse’s having Darren Hopkins red carded after an ugly melee that could have seen more get their marching orders. Back came Gabriel’s and Hennelly and Brazil edged them in front (0-26 to 3 -16). When Eoin Kelly doubled Gabriel’s lead it looked like they’d finally done enough.
But Pearse’s are a side who don’t know when they’re beaten. They’ve always had a resilience about them, but now there’s a swagger that comes with being county champions. Kennedy’s free in added time made it a one-point game and there was a sense of inevitability about it when Frawley fired over a minute later to take the game to penalties (0-27 to 3-18).
Kennedy went first only to fire wide at the club house end, with Kelly then dispatching his penalty. But Mike Noonan brought Pearse’s back into it by scoring his penalty and then saving Hennelly’s effort. Collins though, saved from Bruen and Kevin Reid – either side of Killeen scoring – to leave the path clear for Eames, who’d returned to the fray in injury time to slam home the winning penalty. Roll on the championship.
St Gabriel’s: Padraig Collins, Tommy Murray, Lee Murphy, Tom Higgins, Niall Eames, Paul Killeen (0-1), Cormac Thornton, Oisin Royston (0-1), Shane Burke, Cathal Whelan, Paddy Naughton (0-1), David Nolan (0-4), Gerry Hennelly (0-11,0-9f), Willie Brazil (0-3), Eoin Kelly (0-5). Subs Shane Lawless (0-1) for Whelan, Darragh Skehill for Nolan, Michael Noonan for Eames, Hugh Conlon for Royston, Geoff Kingston for Lawless.
Brothers Pearse: Mike Noonan, Jake Greaney, Padraig Muldoon, Dylan Stewart, Darren Hopkins, Kevin Reid, Stephen Frawley (1-3), Dean Bruen (0-2) Owen Shiel (0-1), Mikey Garvey (0-1), Ian Dwyer, Barry Smith (0-1), Peter Egan (1-2) Conor Kennedy 91-8,0-7f), Dylan Ryan. Subs: Joe Birmingham for Smith, Dickie Doyle for Ryan.
Referee Eddie Naughton
Our thanks to Damian Dolan and the Irish World for the match report.