THE Limerick U-21 Premier Football Championship Final takes place on New Years Eve.
The decider on Tuesday December 31 takes place in Mick Neville Park in Rathkeale between Dromcollogher-Broadford and Rathkeale.
The semi-finals only took place on St Stephen’s Day.
Drom-Broadford beat St Kierans 2-12 tro 1-6, while Rathkeale (St Marys Sean Finns and Cappagh-Kilcornan) beat Newcastle West 2-10 to 2-9 in the double-header in Mick Neville Park.
With the wind backing them, Kierans won enough early ball to get themselves on the board but their movement lacked an octane or two to rip the Drom defence. They were already trailing to breakaway strikes from Micheál Brosnan, Keith Lacey and Kevin Noonan when their opponents upped the tempo around the middle, grabbed another point through Daniel Collins’s free and opened up clear water as Paul Madigan collected Killian Fahy’s pass and whipped a daisy-cutting rocket past the reach of Dan Madden.
McSweeney finally got Kierans off the mark as the clock moved past the quarter-mark but his whimper of protest only provoked another lash from Drom. Collins’s free and Damien Lacey opened up the gunsights before a flowing move up the left ended with corner-back Paddy Lordan stretching the bottom corner of Madden’s net. It looked like game, set and match but Kierans finally found some fluency as McSweeney fly-kicked a beyond Gearóid Greaney’s reach and Brendan McCarthy pulled the deficit back to a more manageable 2-6 to 1-2 at the break.
After McSweeney was met by a Collins free, the Kierans go-to finisher had a rasper tipped over by Greaney and narrowed the gap further with a free. But that was the end of the Coolcappa side’s resistance. As the wind picked speed and the rain poured down, Collins’s free, Noonan and Lacey put the issue beyond doubt before sub Michael Enright pulled one and two Brosnan strikes closed off the scoring. Kierans might have given it another rattle had Enright not been denied by a great Greaney save before the final minutes were played out.
In their semi-final win, Rathkeale started with the diagonal wind behind them and made the early attacks as Eoin O’Donnell buzzed open the spaces. But none of them made the scoring zone and, after a few early efforts were forced into the premature shot, two Newcastle breakaways drew fouls for Lee to punish. He converted another after Seán Sheehan got Rathkeale off the mark before a four minute spell saw Martin Madden fist home off Lee’s floater across the square, Paul Hannon tap over after a desperate clearance from a packed goal line and Lee sliding past Danny Coleman after collecting off a tight passing movement.
That second Magpie goal put nine points between the sides but Rathkeale found inspiration in injury time. Patrick Wilmott’s point may have looked like a token gesture but Darren Jones, sprinting onto a passing movement from the middle, turns it into a statement of intent as he blazed past James Stack and reduced the half-time deficit to 2-5 to 1-3.
Jamie Lee struck again right on the restart but, after Colin Barry replied with a free, it was game on when Rathkeale won the resulting kickout and flashed a pass together for Seán White to curl inside the upright and leave just two between the sides. Seán Sheehan then followed up with a point on the turn before Iain Corbett jammed the Rathkeale march with a long pot.
It proved to no more than temporary relief. Paul White, inches over after intercepting a free out, and Barry’s free equalised only to be pulled back by Hannon’s hoof from distance. White had the sides level again before Mikey Morissey put Rathkeale ahead for the first time and Power grabbed the insurance score off a move up the left. Andrew White could have put the issue beyond doubt had his shot not skidded inches wide of the post and it could have mattered had Lee’s last gasp kick not been deflected over the crossbar.
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