Unbeaten in their last 11 games prior to Saturday nights top of Division 2 clash, Dundalk Gaels were favourites travelling to Philipstown. But an in-form St. Kevins proved too much as they cut the gap at the top of the table to just 3 points after a massive win.
St. Kevins started, the biggest game of their season until now, strong with a goal after just 5 minutes when Paul Duff slapped home from close range after Evan Maher bravely intercepted a Gaels attack. Maher couldn’t be stopped in his stride, and he unselfishly fisted the box across the goal to set the tone for the game.
Just two minutes later the Kevin’s got their second when Karl Martin took inspiration from Maher driving up the right-hand side, this time finding Lee Crosbie who buried the ball across goal.
Leading 2-05 to 0-04 points after 11 minutes the Kevin’s looked like a team on a mission. But what makes Dundalk Gaels so great, is their ability to form a goal out of nothing. The marquee forwards in the division Dylan McKeown and Thomas O’Connell were kept relatively quiet thus far but linked up well with McKeown fisting O’Connell through but he was mauled down inside the box after rounding the last Philipstown defender. Fortunately for the Kevin’s, O’Connell skied over from the spot and would only settle for a point. Although some might say that justice was served as McKeown looked to have run the ball out of play before finding his teammate.
The Kevins were guilty of missing their own goal chances too. Lee Crosbie firing a 1 on 1 wayward after nice play from Shane Meade, and Patrick Clarke forcing Adrian Rafferty to a point blank save, it did look like the Kevin’s would rue their mistakes in front of goal.
The duo of O’Connell and McKeown showed their class, when after 24 minutes O’Connell breezed down the right-hand side hand passing the ball into an area where McKeown could beat Danny Crosbie to the ball and got his side back in the game.
From that moment until half time Dundalk Gaels showed the class they possess but the Kevin’s defended well as a group and managed the pressure. Something they’ve honed since Thomas Macnamee took over this year. But the decisive moment in the half came on the stroke of half time when Danny Crosbie pulled off a magnificent save to deny O’Connell after a classy move from the town side.
After an action-packed opening half hour St. Kevins led 2-6 to 1-7.
The Kevins started the stronger of the two sides as they got the first 3 scores including points from TJ Doheny and Eoin McKenna. But it was Karl Martins goal that sent the Kevins on their way. He finished similarly to Crosbie in the first half leaving Rafferty with no chance, but there is a lot to be said for Paul Duffs decoy run who took two Gaels defenders out of the equation to give Martin the space he needed.
Paul Duff then got his second of the game when Aaron Khan blitzed passed 3 Gaels defenders to pick up a loose pass, setting up Duff who shot low and hard to find the corner.
Lee Crosbie caught two monster marks which lead to scores to kill his opponent’s momentum and the game late on, as the Kevins became the first team to defeat the Dundalk Gaels this term.
Every man in red and black produced a hard-earned performance, but makeshift corner back Shane Meade was deservedly man of the match popping up everywhere for his team with a superb defensive display, including the goal line when he cleared off the line to stop a certain goal midway through the second half.
St. Kevins continue their title charge on Tuesday night when they travel to Roche Emmetts.
Team List: Danny Crosbie, Dylan Maher, Finbarr Lynch, Shane Meade (0-1), Karl Martin (1-0), Cameron Maher, Eoin McKenna (0-1), Evan Maher (0-1), Seanie Crosbie, Patrick Clarke (0-2), TJ Doheny (0-5), Keelan Maher, Paul Duff (2-0), Haron Khan, Lee Crosbie (1-2), Adam Khan (0-1), Tom Matthews.
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