What a finish to an already successful year for the football teams of Sean Finn’s! With a massive crowd of supporters from Rathkeale and other parishes in the West we travelled to Ballyagran to meet the opposition from the mighty Shamrock Gaels from the South Division for a 2pm start. The lads from Sean Finn’s had successful outcomes over great teams such as Feale Rangers in the West final and Ahane in the County semi-final and they were quietly confident that they were a match for any other team in the county. From the throw-in the strong wind was a nuisance for both sides and made scoring-accuracy a challenge. Refereed by Michael Mann from Ballybrown, the game proceeded with great skill by both sides.

If ever this group of play-ers played as a united team it was in this final. It became clear that they had prepared well and were playing as a team. Short passing was essential with such a strong wind and the lads in blue had worked out their own strategies, using their men in the best position. They had not read the script that said the opp-osition were much fancied. From the outset we saw Robert White in goal ably assisted in defence by Shane Hourigan, Frank Geary, Ciarán English, Darren Jones, Patrick Sheahan and Paul White. On many occasions these defenders created major turning points as they prevented Shamrocks from scoring. Sean Sheahan and Jack Coleman both travelled miles as they controlled the centre of the field. In the half-forward positions we had Dean Maune, Anthony Supple and Stephen Power, while up-front we had Eoghan O’Connor, Martin Roche and Eoin O’Donnell.

From the off, with wind advantage, Sean Finn’s opened the scoring with points from Martin Roche and Dean Maune. Sham-rocks scored a point from play and a goal from a penalty.

As the half progressed Eoghan O’Connor scored another free and a point from play and the sweetest moment of all was when Eoin O’Donnell scored a super goal having received a pass from Sean Sheahan in the goal-mouth. The half-time score was Sean Finn’s 1-5 Shamrocks 1-1.

In the second half, playing against the strong wind seemed to spur on the Deelside lads even more. Positional switches were made by the astute man-agement team of Donal Donovan, Brian Duggan and Damien Wilmott: Anthony Supple moved to full forward and Martin Roche to wing forward while Eoghan O’Connor went to half-forward. Anthony Supple opened the second-half scoring with a great point, the first of two in this half. We saw two points also from Martin Roche and one each from Eoghan O’Connor and Eoin O’Donnell. During the second half the Shamrocks team scored just two points, which indicates the complete dominance of the Sean Finn’s unit. The final score was Sean Finn’s 1-11 Shamrocks 1-3

When the final whistle blew the joy was tangible. The gallant Shamrocks team stood in a guard of honour as the Sean Finn’s team vacated the field for the presentation. The Padraig O’Rathallaig Cup was presented by Sean McAuliffe of the County Football Board to the delighted Sean Finn’s captain, Eoghan O’Connor. The captain thanked his team-mates, the team management, the referee and his officials, the Ballyagran GAA club for having the pitch in such good condition, and finally called for three rousing cheers for the gallant Shamrocks team.

The team were overjoyed on returning to Rathkeale with their job well done. Gus Ryan of O’Sullivan’s Bar announced the man-of-the-match, Sean Sheahan, who had given a fantastic end-to-end performance. Detailed reconstructions of incidents during the game were recalled as the team celebrated after their long season.

We salute the following players who are the U21A county football champions of 2011: Robert White, Shane Hourigan, Frank Geary, Ciarán English, Darren Jones, Patrick Sheahan, Paul White, Sean Sheahan, Jack Coleman, Dean Maune 0-1, Anthony Supple 0-2, Stephen Power, Martin Roche 0-3, Eoghan O’Connor 0-4, 3F, 1P, Eoin O’Donnell 1-1, Cian Wilmott, Adrian Stackpoole, Seán White, Adam Costello, Patrick Wilmott, Jimmy Dillane and Michael Keating. Congratulations to one and all!