O’Keeffe the ace for brilliant Blackrock

WITH just three points separating the sides in the 56th minute, Castlelyons dared to believe they could cause a major upset in this Premier 1 Central Region final at Páirc Uí Rinn.

It wasn’t to be, however, as Blackrock had produced that extra bit of class to edge out a close fought final.

It was cruel Castlelyons’ fantastic goalkeeper Eoin Barry should end up on the losing team, having pulled off three breathtaking saves at vital times to keep his side in the game.

Castlelyons rose to the occasion quicker with Colm Spillane and Eoin Maye impressing in midfield and setting a breathless tempo which Blackrock struggled to match in the opening exchanges. However, it was the Rockies who had the first sight of goal, Callum Crowe’s sixth minute effort producing a fantastic save from Barry.

Points from Ronan Bransfield and Darragh Lawlor in the Castlelyons half forward line were cancelled out by star man Kevin O’Keeffe, who was having an excellent battle with Tim Carroll. Despite their dominance, Castlelyons were thwarted by wayward shooting, racking up seven wides inside 20 minutes.

O’Keeffe duly punished the East Cork outfit with a goal four minutes before the break when he reacted quickest to Callum Crowe’s shot which flew back off the crossbar. Blackrock led 1-7 to 0-6 at half-time with O’Keeffe claiming a remarkable personal tally of 1-6.

It was in the game’s third quarter when the Rockies flexed their muscles with Crowe catching the eye in particular as he struck three of their six points in the opening 15 minutes of the second-half.

With eight points between the teams and only 20 minutes to go a Blackrock victory looked inevitable until Ronan O’Regan buried the ball in the bottom corner to hand Castlelyons a lifeline. Two more points from Anthony Spillane roused the Castelyons players and supporters. But, having dominated this championship from the beginning, Blackrock weren’t willing to let the final slip from their grasp and late points from Stephen Murphy and O’Keeffe ensured they closed out a thoroughly entertaining final.

Scorers for Blackrock: K O’Keeffe 1-7 (3f, 1-65), S Murphy and C Crowe 0-3 each, A Murphy, S O’Keeffe and A O’Connell 0-1 each.

Scorers for Castlelyons: A Spillane 0-5 (4f, 1-65), R O’Regan 1-0, R Bransfield and D Lawlor 0-2 each, E Maye and C Spillane 0-1 each.

BLACKROCK: P Delaney; PJ Green, D O’Keeffe, S O’Brien; A Murphy, E Smith, D Stokes; R Dineen, D O’Farrell; S O’Keeffe, J Fitzgerald, S Murphy; C Crowe, C Cormack, K O’Keeffe.

CASTLELYONS: E Barry; N Daly, C O’Leary, T Carroll; S Joyce, C Barry, C Lawlor; C Spillane, E Mayne; R Bransfield, D Lawlor, A Fenton, R O’Regan, A Spillane, S Moroney.

Sub: S Fenton for Daly (48).

Referee: D Kirwan (Éire Óg).

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