Naas defeated Tullamore at St Conleth's Park. Photo: Kildare GAA.
Naas defeated Tullamore at St Conleth's Park. Photo: Kildare GAA.

AIB Leinster Club SFC: Naas win thriller

AIB Leinster Club SFC First Round

Naas 2-11 Tullamore 3-7

By Ger McNally at St Conleth's Park

Naas progressed to the quarter-final of the Leinster Championship in bizarre fashion when a freak Darragh Kirwan goal in the fourth minute of injury time gave them a one point win over Tullamore.

It appeared that Naas’ last chance of a dramatic winning goal had passed when Kirwan blasted his shot straight at goalkeeper Corey White but rather than drop his head, Kirwan closed down Aaron Levy after the Tullamore man picked up the rebound and when he tried to clear Kirwan’s block somehow ended up tricking over the line.

It was a dramatic finale for a match that was sometimes short on quality but always engrossing.

Diarmuid Egan burst through the Naas defence and found the net in the 14th minute but it took Naas just two minutes to respond when the excellent Kirwan became the first man to score a goal in Leinster competition for his club since 1990.

That put Naas 1-2 to 1-1 ahead with the last kick of the first quarter. They almost got a second goal early in the second quarter but Eamonn Callaghan was denied by a goalline block by corner back Paul McConway.

Callaghan kicked a free in the 20th minute but was his team’s last score for almost 20 minutes.

Tullamore scored five unanswered points during that time, although Colm Joyce did rattle their crossbar during that spell, to lead by three in the 35th minute.

Naas came back though and with Kirwan pulling the strings, they scored six points in a row to lead 1-9 to 1-6 early in the fourth quarter but a positional switch by Tullamore almost proved to be the winning of the game.

Johnny Moloney had been charged with marking Kirwan for most of the game but with time ticking away he was moved to a full forward position. The reward for Tullamore was instant as Moloney hit the Naas net in the 49th minute and just seconds later Ciaran Egan scored his team's third goal to turn a three point deficit into a three point lead in the blink of an eye.

Moloney also kicked a point before returning to defensive duties with five minutes of the game remaining.

They were reduced to 14 men when Michael Brazil was black carded in the 60th minute and Callaghan converted the resulting free to leave two in it but it looked like time was up for Naas before Kirwan’s late, late show.

Scorers for Naas: D Kirwan 2-4, E Callaghan 0-5 (4fs), B Kane 0-1, P McDermott 0-1.

Scorers for Tullamore: J Moloney 1-2 (1f), D Egan 1-2, K Egan 1-0, H Plunkett 0-1, L Egan 0-1, N Bracken 0-1.

NAAS: Jack Rodgers; Brian Kane, Paul Sullivan, Conor McCarthy; Tom Browne, Brian Byrne, Paddy McDermott; Eoin Doyle, Jack Cleary; Colm Joyce, Eamonn Callaghan, Paul McDermott; Darragh Kirwan, James Burke, Sean Cullen.

Subs: Luke Griffin for Paul McDermott, 38; Brian Stynes for McCarthy, 38; Cathal Daly for Doyle, 46-48.

TULLAMORE: Corey White; Ciaran Burns, John Furlong, Paul McConway; Kevin O'Brien, Johnny Moloney, Oisin Keenan Martin; Michael Brazil, Aaron Leavy; Harry Plunkett, Diarmuid Egan, Tom Furlong; Luke Egan, Luke Plunkett, Nigel Bracken.

Subs: Ciaran Egan for T Furlong, h/t; Michael Feeney for O'Brien, 45; Shane Dooley for Plunkett, 58; Jay Sheerin for Burns, 60+1.

REFEREE: Berry Tiernan, Dublin.