Finishing second in our group set up a final showdown with Oatlands. The venue was Stella Maris all weather pitch on Wednesday 27th February. Despite the sunny weather and the perfect pitch, the boys started slowly, allowing Oatlands to control the opening period of the game. Fortunately, this lethargic start did not prove costly as we gradually grew into the game. The first half was a scrappy affair in which neither side managed to create any clear goal scoring opportunities. It was in the second half when the game came to life.
Oatlands started brightly, hitting the post with a strike from outside the box. We responded well, creating chances of our own and with ten minutes to go managed to find a breakthrough. A free kick was awarded mid-way inside the Oatlands half. The ball was crossed into the box and they struggled clear it away. After a flurry of tackles and scuffed clearances the ball broke to Morgan Callaghan and he calmly tucked it into the bottom corner of the net. It was a finish that a striker would be proud of never mind a centre half. Ecstatic celebrations followed. As the minutes began to slip away Oatlands pushed forward, creating some good chances. With only a couple of minutes to go they were awarded a penalty which was finished with conviction. This meant extra time.
We came out strong in the first half of extra time. Tadgh McDonagh was moved to a more attacking role as he began to heavily influence the game. He was also aided by strong performances from Ryan Carey and Taylor Jones. It was in this period where we dominated, creating numerous goal scoring opportunities but failing to capitalise on them. The second half of extra time continued in the same vein, but Oatlands also looked dangerous on the counter attack and it was one of these attacks that proved our undoing. A quick counter left our defence exposed as the Oatlands forward burst into the box. Aaron McDade came across to make a tackle and there appeared to be little contact with the player but the referee deemed it a foul and awarded Oatlands their second penalty. Like the first penalty, it was finished with conviction.
With only a few minutes to go we committed everything to attack which led to some frantic moments in the Oatlands box. In the dying seconds of the match we had a penalty claim turned down as it appeared that Morgan was taken down by one of the Oatlands defenders. It was a cruel end to a fiercely contested match.
Collinstown Park 1 – 2 Oatlands