By Denis J. Croke
HAVING generally controlled the game from the throw-in, Rosenallis put their supporters through the wringer in the final few minutes of the Leinster Club JFC final in Tullamore on Saturday.
As the clock hit the hour mark, Rosenallis held a healthy looking six point lead but when Bracknagh substitute found the back of the net in the 62nd minute the nerves were jangling. And when the Offaly champions won a fortunate 45 almost immediately the tension was almost too bear. But thankfully it feel short, was gathered by a Rosenallis defender, and the final whistle blew.
Rosenallis supporters streamed onto the pitch to celebrate with their players, history had been made, and the dream of a Rosenallis dream lives on.
There is no denying Rosenallis thoroughly deserved their victory. They played the far more structured, composed game. They build patiently from the back, and despite Bracknagh packing their defence, Rosenallis remained calm and took the scores when the chances came.
In contrast, Bracknagh grew increasingly frustrated when Rosenallis got back to defend. This they did with assurance and composure. They closed down their opposition, gave away relatively few frees, and forcing Bracknagh to shoot from distance.
It took a while for both sides to grow into the game before James Jackson gave Rosenallis the opening score from a ninth minute free after Ronan Murray had been pulled back. Joe Costello landed a neat point a minute later to level affairs.
Jackson added another free before he got the game’s opening goal at the end of the quarter after good approach work by Mark Dunne and John Lennon.
Both sides were to shoot a couple of wides before Bracknagh made a determined bid to reel in Rosenallis’ lead. Robert Barron was first on target in the 25th minute, while Peter Cunningham shot over an excellent point. The was to bet the Offaly player’s only score of the game as he was brilliantly marshalled throughout.
The gap was down to two when Jim Hendy split the posts two minutes from the break but the last action of the half saw Colm Poole land a magnificent free from a very narrow angle, and at the break Jackson’s goal separated the sides.
The final outcome was effectively decided in the opening minutes of the second half. Rosenallis cam out on fire and Lennon and Poole combined to set up Joseph Shelly for a great point straight from the throw-in.
From the kick out Poole won possession and again split the posts. By the firth minute Rosenallis had opened up a six point gap thanks to another Jackson free.
Credit to Bracknagh, they kept plugging away. Robin Galbraith landed an excellent point, quickly followed by Glen Brerton, and all this action happened in the opening seven minutes of the half.
The game now went into a period of stalemate, with scores at a premium, although Rosenallis always looked in control. Poole (free) and Galbraith exchanged pints in the 49th minute, as did Poole and Barron minutes later, and Rosenallis held a four point advantage with 53 minutes on the clock.
That soon became six after substitute, Joseph Keating, who was barely 30 seconds on the pitch, and then Ronan Murray finished and end to end moves, with excellent points.
There were just three minutes remaining when Bracknagh goalkeeper Keith Keogh made a superb double block to deny Brian Fitzpatrick a goal, but the Rosenallis supporters were getting ready to celebrate.
But their plans were put on hold as Bracknagh mounted an attack. Substitute let fly from 20 metres out, hoping to find some way through a forest of legs. The ball took a wicked deflection, flew up into the air and landed at Dillon Broderick’s feet and he was left with a simple tap in.
With no announcement on the amount of time to be added on, Rosenallis supporters were now on the edges of their seats. They won possession from the kick out, but o9st it back again. Again Bracknagh shot forward and this time a speculative shot ricochetted out for a 45.
There was time for the kick, but once gathered by a Rosenallis defender the final whistle blew and the celebrations began.
However, the celebrations will be muted, for the players at least, as the club’s junior hurlers are out in the Leinster semi-final next week, and the footballers look to be heading to Edinburgh in two weeks to take on the English champions in two weeks time for a place in the All-Ireland final.
ROSENALLIS: Barry Farrell; Cathal C. Fennelly, Marcus Redmond, Cormac White; Fiachra C. Fennell, Cillian Callaly, Nicholas Dunne; John Lennon, Mark Dunne; Joseph Shelley (0-1), Ronan Murray (0-1), Ruaidhrí C. Fennell, Colm Poole (0-5, 0-2f), James Jackson (1-3, 0-3f), Brian Fitzpatrick.
Subs: Stephen McEvoy for White ( 49m), Joseph Keating (0-1) for Lennon (54m), Donal Lalor for Jackson (60m)
Bracknagh: Keith Keogh; Dave Costello, Darren Groome, Emmet Geoghegan; Anthony Cunningham, Jim Hendy (0-1), William Dowling; Peter Cunningham (0-1), Jason Dempsey; Jamie Sheridan, Joe Costello (0-1), Robin Galbraith (0-2); Kieran McNeilis, Glen Brerton (0-1), Robert Barron (0-2).
Subs: Eddie Mather for McNeilis (32m), Dillon Broderick (1-0) for Brerton (45m),
Referee: Stephen Murphy (Louth)