By Mike Fitzpatrick
Those brave enough to endure dreadful weather conditions to attend the first men’s final of the season also witnessed the first game to go to extra time. It was always likely to happen, as the two sides in this junior football B final had very little separating them.
Both sides took slender leads throughout the 90 minutes. Fighting out a draw the week before, the two sides upped the tempo a little, but still the scoring remained almost identical.
With practically the same lineouts as last week, the two adversaries battled each other from the opening whistle, but despite the attacking forays from both sides, few scoring opportunities resulted in points or goals in the early stages.
Various personnel changes on both sides had certain effects, though not as convincing as either side would have hoped.
Astoria’s scoring midfielder Derek McKenna played a more attack-minded role, whereas his partner from last week, Sam Yore, remained at centerfield to notch a couple of hugely important points for his side.
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Nestor Allen played a pivotal role upfront for Astoria, and despite not getting his name on the scoresheet last week, he responded this time with a goal and two points for his efforts.
Whereas Astoria had the arguably stronger midfield, Sligo’s forward line outscored their counterparts, with five of their six forwards registering points or goals.
There was very little between the sides throughout the regular 70 minutes, and coming towards the end it looked as if another draw was on the cards. Astoria took a late lead, thanks to efforts from James Dolan and Paul Bruin, and it looked as if the title was to go to Queens.
Sligo fought back and substitute John Naughton scored a point in the dying seconds to grab a draw for his side.
This effort provided untold relief for Sligo, and particularly for the normally sharpshooting Barney Healy who had missed an effort only seconds before that he would normally hammer home with ease. At
a goal and ten points each at the end of normal time, extra time beckoned.
Nestor Allen hit a point for Astoria, and at this stage, a solitary point could easily have proved to be the winner, such was the lack of superiority either side could hold over the other. Supersub Naughton hit another for Sligo, followed by an effort from Pat Spellman. Astoria hit back with an effort from Conor Corbett, but with little left on the clock Sligo’s Barney Healy hit the winner for his side.
Sligo are junior football B champions of New York, and in doing so, become the first team in New York history to have annexed all four senior titles in their history.
Astoria: Eugene Kyne, Gerry O’Brien, Brendan Doyle, Mike Dolan, John Beirne, Dan Harrington, Conor Corbett (0-1), Sam Yore (0-3), Paul Bruin (0-5), Mike Keane, Derek McCann, Edward O’Reilly, Nestor Allen (1-2), Enda O’Flaherty, James Dolan (0-1), Subs: Niall Carlin, Mark Burke, Sean Rice.
Sligo: Niall Duffy, John Kilroy, Mike Gilligan, Fergus Durcan, Pat Spellman (0-1), Tom Carroll, Ray Reynolds, Tom McGrath (0-1), Eamonn Duffy, Barney Healy (0-4), Declan Henry (0-3), Brian McDonagh (0-1), Ronnie Cosgrove (1-0), Paul Tuffy, John McVann (0-1). Sub: John Naughton (0-2).