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Clever Kilti' outpoint Westport

Clever Kilti’ outpoint Westport

St Louis 0-12

Rice College0-9

Mike Finnerty

ALL good things must come to an end and there was no ignoring Rice College’s sense of disappointment as they surrendered their vice-like grip on the Connacht Colleges Senior ‘B’ football championship last Saturday afternoon.
The defending champions fought the good fight but St Louis, Kiltimagh had the measure of their opponents for the second time this season and a late surge which yielded three unanswered points carried them into next weekend’s final.
It looked at times as though Rice College would triumph over incredible adversity after losing Niall Burke to a hamstring injury in the warm-up and lining out without centre-forward Philip Keegan due to mumps. But St Louis were not to be denied and late points from Enda Sweeney, Keith Cassidy and David Lydon (free) eventually broke Westport’s spirited resistance.
The game itself was no classic but it lacked nothing in terms of intensity and close combat. The teams were level on seven occasions throughout a tense hour’s football and St Louis will be aware that there is room for improvement, particularly in front of goal.
Still, Maurice Sheridan and Tony Duffy will know that semi-finals are all about winning. Their defence held Rice College to four points from play and the performances of Micheál Caulfield, Andrew Carroll and Mattie Commins are worthy of special mention. Their tenacity and ability to break out of defence with possession was inspirational at times, while midfielders Sean Boyle and Tomás Keegan are as honest as the day is long.
Up front, Kiltimagh’s polished free-taker, Ciaran Charlton, weighed in with five crucial scores from placed balls but Keith Cassidy was the star of the show from play, landing three superb points.
An understrength Rice College had the aid of the stiff breeze in the first half but trailed at the break by 0-6 to 0-5.
Mark Barrett opened the scoring after ten seconds but Westport manager, Shane Conway, was left cursing his luck only minutes later when the scorer was forced off with a leg injury.
However, Rice College’s no-nonsense defence held the fort as the outstanding Shane McDermott and full-forward Kevin Keane (last year’s Mayo minor full-back) carried the fight to St Louis.
After 17 minutes the sides were deadlocked at 0-3 apiece after two Ciaran Charlton frees and a fine score from Keith Cassidy were cancelled out by Shane McDermott and Newport’s Kevin Keane.
Rice College full-back Cormac McHale and centre-back John Sammon fought tooth and nail to keep Kiltimagh at bay at times, but the pressure was incessant during the second quarter.
A long-range point from Tomás Keegan and a free from David Lydon nudged St Louis into a 0-5 to 0-3 lead but it was wiped out almost immediately as Burrishoole’s Shane McDermott took the game by the scruff of the neck.
He won a free which Kevin Keane converted before delivering a long ball into the danger-zone that led to another handy free for Keane. That left the sides level on 27 minutes but the flawless Ciaran Charlton landed the lead score from a free just before the break.
The second half was a battle of wills. Rice College hit the first two scores after the break from Colm Higgins and Kevin Keane (free) to go back in front by 0-7 to 0-6. However, they failed to score for the next 20 minutes as Kiltimagh rattled off three unanswered points.
The lively Keith Cassidy curled the equaliser before Ciaran Charlton clipped a couple of frees in the 44th and 49th minutes to open up some daylight. At that stage, it looked like Westport’s race was run.
Instead, they dug in again and the McDermott-Keane combination worked to perfection for Liam Staunton to curl over a crucial score. By the 54th minute, the teams were level for the seventh time as Rice College worked an opening that allowed Kevin Keane (Newport) to fire over the equaliser.
The final five minutes were frantic but St Louis found their second wind and kicked on impressively. Aghamore’s Enda Sweeney smacked over the lead score impressively before Keith Cassidy hit the target from distance to double the advantage. There were 58 minutes on the clock when David Lydon’s late free sealed the deal and ended Rice College’s eventful season.

A Prendergast; B Harrison, J Mulhern, M Caulfield; A Carroll, I Carty, M Commins; S Boyle, T Keegan (0-1); E Sweeney (0-1), C Charlton (0-5, 5fs), K Cassidy (0-3); D Lydon (0-2, 2fs), S Kilkenny, S Kelly.
Subs used: V McKeown for Kelly; B Walsh for Kilkenny; J Lawless for Boyle (inj); J Hunt for Harrison.

P Groden; D Drumm, C McHale, B Fleming; K Staunton, J Sammon, P Keane; S McDermott (0-1), G Keane; S Scott, C Higgins (0-1), K Keane (N) (0-1); M Barrett (0-1), K Keane (0-4, 3fs), S Geraghty.
Subs used: L Staunton (0-1) for Barrett (inj); D Hoban for Scott; F Hughes for P Keane; O Sweeney for Geraghty.

Referee: M Murphy (Ballinrobe)