Blackforge FC 1
Sandyhill Shangan 1
(Blackforge win 4-2)
By Eamon Scott
BLACKFORGE FC are the 2023 Matt O’Leary Cup champions following a penalty shootout victory over Sandyhill Shangan in Sunday’s AFL Over 35 Cup final at the Oscar Traynor Coaching and Development Centre in Coolock.
In a well-contested showdown attended by a bumper support from both clubs, it was double-chasing Sandyhill Shangan who got their noses in front when Ciaran Ryan pounced on a misplaced clearance to drill home from the edge of the box past John Mills in the Blackforge FC goal in the 35th minute.
The Dublin 12 side, who are backed by MMA star Conor McGregor, were rocked on their heels with the concession of the opener, but still were very much in the game and created plenty of opportunities.
Despite the concession of Ryan’s rasper, they could not find a way past Jason Cosgrave in the Sandyhill Shangan goal for whom Andre Warren and Stephen Coleman were impressing on the big all-weather pitch.
Former Celtic player Paul Byrne, the Blackforge FC manager, refused to panic and when he introduced fresh legs off the bench the green and white shirts began to dominate.
Their composed industry was finally rewarded when the experienced Tony Griffiths headed home.
With no further goals, it was straight to penalties and Blackforge FC netminder Mills was to make two big saves to swing the trophy their way while Cosgrave was clearly struggling with his own movement during the spotkicks.
Mills would pick up the Man of the Match award and along with his team mates and delighted travelling support, the fabled Matt O’Leary Cup back to Dublin 12 for what was sure to be a proper celebration!
BLACKFORGE FC: John Mills; William McDonagh, William Nicholson, Philip Massey, Brian Cullen, Paul McNally, Alan Quinn, Tony Griffiths, Stephen Nicholson, Graham Whelan, Robert Bailey, Dean Buckley Moore, Adam Griffiths, Keith Molyneux, Tony Sheridan, Anthony Fitzpatrick, Ross Gleeson, Jamie Stears, Dean Fallon, Noel Murtagh.
SANDYHILL SHANGAN: Jason Cosgrave, Clive Ross, Alan Groves, Andre Warren, Michael Mooney, Michael Rafferty, Alan Kinsella, Ciaran Ryan, Stephen Coleman, Daniel Murphy, Paul Delahunty. Alan Ray, Padraig Drew, Darren Nolan, Michael Rafferty, Ross Carrig, Graham Conway, Sean O’Reilly, Vinicius Dias Alves, Paul Redican, Stephen Dolan, John Ryan.
Referee: Brian Hand; Assistants: Rob Nolan, David Carabini, 4th official: Mick Lynch.
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