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KDFL Under 20 Cup Semi Final.


Kilcullen AFC 2 Clane United FC 3 (AET)


Cracker – this was a game that would have made the late great Robbie Coltrane proud to have the name of his most famous character associated with such a spectacle. In a rarity for the first few months of 2024, glorious sunshine beamed down on Kilcullen AFC and Clane United Under 20 teams as they met in the 2nd semi-final of the Under 20 cup with a final against Newbridge United awaiting the winners.  Fresh from being crowned 2nd Division champions, a buoyant Kilcullen side came up against the runners up in the 1st division in a game that didn’t disappoint the large crowd gathered in Kilcullen on Saturday.

 

Playing with a slight breeze in the first half, Kilcullen launched into the visitors from the opening whistle and dominated the opening exchanges. Early on a break down the right had Clane struggling at the back with Darragh Coughlan forcing a save from Adam Mazur as Kilcullen sought to turn their early advantage on the pitch into an advantage on the scoreboard. Clane’s backline failed to learn from earlier errors and on tenth minute a quick throw on the Kilcullen right freed Ryan Dunne who pushed purposefully into the Clane area. An errant bobble seemed to have caused the momentum to be lost but Paddy Barrett produced the most sublime rebound from eight yards out that Mazur could only push onto the post and in to give Kilcullen a lead that their start deserved. The goal seemed to wake Clane from their slumber with Scott Britton threatening down the right before Kilcullen’s defence recovered to clear the danger. Calum Doran and Nathan Carr’s battle Darragh Curran with Ben Haslam in the middle of the park was proving to be the focal battle in the game as both teams tried to exert dominance in that area. Kilcullen’s ability to break at pace was proving excellent to watch with their front two of Paddy Barrett  and Darragh Coughlan alternatively dropping deep to provide an excellent outlet for Kilcullen with Geraghty and Coyle at the heart of the Clane defence struggling to stay or go as the Kilcullen offence continued to cause problems. 


Midway through the first half, and somewhat against the run of play, Ross Murphy drifted in from the Clane right and broke through the middle of the Kilcullen rear-guard. A sharp one two with Aidan Ralph opened up the space and Murphy expertly brought Clane level with a sharp finish that Shane Lawlor in the Kilcullen Goal could do nothing about. Having got back into the game, Clane exerted a short lived period of dominance as Aidan Ralph’s long throws caused some consternation. From one such throw Kilcullen should have restored their lead. Ralph’s long throw from the left was defended well by Stephen Rooney with Adam Lavin adding to the clearance. Doran misjudged the bounce of the ball and Kilcullen counter attack sprung quickly into life. Ben Haslam drove forward at pace and deftly played in Paddy Barrett who beat the advancing Mazur only to see the ball bounce back off the foot of the post to the feet of Darragh Coughlan who was closed down by Mazur and Hinds and his forced shot hit the same post when it seemed easier to score.  A real let off for Clane on this occasion. The remainder of the half ebbed and flowed as both teams served up some excellent entertainment to match the beautiful weather expertly handled by referee Kieran McInerney in the middle. 1-1 at half time was a little harsh on Kilcullen.

 

The second half was equally as entertaining on the whole as both teams looked for the advantage form the very start. Clane started brightly with Ben Kirwan causing the Kilcullen backline some problems on the right while the Kilcullen right was proving to be their best avenue of attack. Clane introduced James Ralph for Carr on fifty five with the KDFL young player of the year making his return after a recent illness. His effect on the game was almost immediate as his cross form the left was met by Kirwan who beat Shane Lawlor in the Kilcullen goal but drifted harmlessly wide. This chance seemed to galvanise Kilcullen and on sixty four minutes a break down their right by Ryan Dunne got to the by-line and he found Darragh Coughlan lurking in the Clane penalty area and he dispatched with aplomb to give Kilcullen back their one goal advantage.  The large crowd in attendance erupted as an upset was now most definitely on the cards.  Once again the young men from Clane responded to this adversary and started to display their qualities and Murphy and James Ralph became more influential of the game. On seventy five minutes this pair combined to get Clane back on level terms. Ralph breaking down the right before his cross found Murphy free in the box and his header gave him his second and brought Clane back on level terms. As the conditions took their toll on the players in the closing stages, chances were at a premium as the fierce work rate of both teams came to the fore and subs from Clane and Kilcullen subs Luke Boland and Conor Rooney came into the fray to give much needed energy in the sapping heat. 2-2 at full time and both teams regrouped for twenty minutes of extra time to come.

 

Both sides came out determined in extra time but again it would be fair to say conditions dictated play. As a penalty shoot-out loomed, it took a moment of brilliance from Ross Murphy when his wonder shot from twenty five yards looped over the excellent Shane Lawlor and found the back of the net.

The game ended 3-2 Clane and they look forward to the final, which is a fitting tribute and culmination to an excellent Under 20 season when Clane Utd and Newbridge Utd meet in the Under 20 Cup final. Kilcullen take solace and indeed should be proud of their seasons performances and will look forward to meeting the challenges that await them next season in Division 1. Best for Clane were hat trick hero Ross Murphy, Calum Doran, Nathan Carr and Aidan Ralph. Best for Kilcullen, Adam Lavin, Stephen Rooney and goal scorers Paddy Barrett and Darragh Coughlan.



Ace Sports Awards Masters Division 2


Kilcock Celtic FC 1 Monasterevin AFC 1


Monasterevin travelled to kilcock for their first game of the season with a new look team from last year, with five new players making their debut for the club while the hosts looked to capitalise on their good start to the season last week following victory over near neighbours Maynooth Town. 

The visitors started on the front foot and went ahead early on following some swift passing found Daryl Corcoran free and his strike could only be parried by home keeper after ten minutes for the perfect start for the Monasterevin men. This was a wake up call for the home side and they started to make inroads through Joe Price and Kyle Staunton but they found visiting keeper Ali Long equal to their best efforts, he was supported well by defender Darren Siney. Kilcock also drew level when Ioan Berci was unlucky to see his effort rattle off the visiting crossbar with Long beaten. Monasterevin held out to go in at half time defending their slender lead. 

The visitors had some early second half chances through Mick Sheedy and Corcoran and were unlucky not to extend their lead. Kilcock were dangerous on the break and drew level following a sustain amount of pressure midway through the second half when a long ball from Robert Gonia found its way to Gareth Henvey who was lurking in the visitors penalty area and he made no mistake from close range to level matters at 1-1. 



Both team pushed hard for the winner under the blistering sunshine at Bawnouges but had to settle for the draw. Best for Monasterevin were David Murphy,  Ronan Stafford and Anto Conway in midfield,  with Ali Long being awarded man of the match by the referee.  Best for the home side were Brian Kiely, Ioan Berci, Gareth Henvey, Joe Price and Kyle Staunton. 


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