23 Oct KDFL Ben Moran League Shield Final. Kilcullen AFC 2 3 Naas AFC
Feature game Herald newspaper
The rain abated on a great day for football in near perfect conditions in Monasteravin where Kilcullen AFC and Naas AFC met in the Ben Moran League Shield final. Both teams came into today’s having achieved pre season targets by challenging for silverware and promotion. Kilcullen winning the Division 1 league title and Naas AFC, securing promotion from Division 2 and still challenging for a Divisional Shield.
Both teams started at a frenetic pace that a final brings with both lacking composure on the ball in the final third of the field. Kilcullen settled and made the first chance on three minutes with a cross from Sean Hurley to Eoghain Kirby who shot just wide. This woke Naas up and on five minutes they broke and crossed the ball and head a couple of chances at a shot on goal until Robert Lee of Kilcullen cleared the ball for a corner.
From the resultant corner Kilcullen quickly broke where Darragh Kelly picked up the ball on the left hand-side of the pitch, cut inside the Naas full back Sean Mulligan and delivered a cross to the waiting Dylan Aulsberry who finished with a deft header just inside the Naas AFC keeper Jamie Larkin post to put Kilcullen 1-0 up.
Kilcullen and Naas both swapped chances until the twentieth minute when from a corner won by the dangerous Andrew Holmes of Naas AFC was converted by the unmarked Shane Brady to level matters.
Kilcullen can consider themselves unlucky not to go 2-1 or further in front as some great defending and goal line clearances by Naas AFC denied both Eoghain Kirby on twenty two minutes and Davy O’Conner on twenty six minutes denied Kilcullen AFC.
Kilcullen were not to be denied for long and on thirty eight minutes after fine hold up play by Eoghain Kirby and a lay off to Darragh Kelly who from thirty yards out on the left hand side of the pitch unleashed a half volley past Jamie Larkin into the top right hand corner to put KIlcullen 2-1 ahead. Darragh Kelly continued to torment Sean Mulligan and was unlucky not to make it 3-1 and Kilcullen went in 2-1 up and on the ascendancy at half time.
The leaders started the second half as they finished the first with Darragh Kelly shooting just wide. On forty seven minutes Naas AFC had a great chance to level the game with a cross from Ben Holmes to Ben Ellard whose deft header was smartly saved by Kilcullen keeper Kieran Brennan.
On fifty minutes Naas AFC drew level, when a free won and fiercely struck from twenty five yards by Ben Holmes past Kieran Brennan in the Kilcullen goal to tie the game for the second time.
Kilcullen can consider themselves unlucky when on the hour a corner delivered by Brian Collins was met by Kilcullen captain Sean O’Brien who headed the ball to Dylan Aulsberry who shot towards an empty Naas net but his shot deflected of a Kilcullen player and wide for a goal kick.
As the game drew to a close both sides continued to press and make chances. Both sides tried to manage the game and see the game out, but the ever dangerous Ben Holmes with five minutes remaining on the clock had other ideas and burst into the Kilcullen box and was brought down for a penalty. Time for heroes and game changers, and man of the match Ben Holmes coolly dispatched the penalty to give Naas the win, their first piece of KDFL Silverwear. Best for the winners were Shane Brady, Sean Crehan with a man of the match performance from Ben Holmes. Best for Kilcullen were Sean Hurley and Darragh Kelly.
Kilcullen AFC – Kieran Brennan, Sean Hurley, Graham McCormack, Sean O brien, Rob Lee, David O Connor, Colin Byrne, Brian Collins, Eoghan Kirby, Dylan Aylesbury, Darragh Kelly, Robbie Cullen, Sean Corrigan, Neil Kavanagh, Trevor Harris, Sean Hayes, Colin Murray.
Naas AFC – Jamie Larkin, Sean Mulligan, Glenn Barron, Shane Brady, Sean Croke, Calvin McCoy, Darragh Mulligan, Luke Hilliard, Ben Ellard, Ben Holmes, Andrew Ellard, Ian Cox, Ben Whelan, Conor Foley, Neill Walsh, Stephen Barron, Paul Walsh, Luke Lynch.
Officials – Seamus Sage, James McDonnell, Alan Finn