Forget a Thursday night of Europa League action – the real viewing was at The Meadows, home of St. Pat’s Boys, as Crettyard and New Oak Boys locked horns for the KCLR Carlow Shield Final.
New Oak Boys were going into the game is defending champions, fellow Nationist Premier Division side Crettyard the opposition. In the 33 years of the competition, the two sides had shared nine shield titles and 15 of the last 18 league titles so you got the feeling you were in for a cracker. With a decent crowd in on St. Patrick’s Eve the pressure was probably on Crettyard to deliver given New Oak’s rampant success last season with more silverware on the horizon beyond the KCLR Carlow Shield. The Champions League-esque format has helped to revamp the competition and add more competitive fixtures to the books but could Crettyard put it all to good use and claim a record seventh title win?
Chris Chander gave Crettyard the lead on 35 minutes, one that they would carry into halftime. But with 45 minutes to go, a one-goal lead is always a dangerous one and it only took three minutes for Cody Mulhall to find the back of the net for New Oak Boys and level proceedings. Flash forward to the hour mark and things are really hotting up, the game throwing up two goals in two minutes, again Mulhall with the strike to level the game at 2-2.
With the tempo rising, Dylan Keightly edged New Oak ahead on 66 minutes before Cody Mulhall completed his hat-trick, his third of the night and New Oak Boys’ fourth with a free-kick off his left foot only ever destined for the top corner.
All the momentum was now with New Oak Boys going into the final 20 minutes and true to form it’s the defending champions who see the game out in style and retain the KCLR Carlow Shield.
Having trailed at the break, New Oak produced a second-half showing for the ages with all four goals inside the second 45 minutes.
Finishing runner-up in Group A of the competition with four wins from five, New Oak would go on to beat St. Pat’s Boys 2-1 in the quarter-finals before seeing off group-toppers Vale Wanderers 2-0 in the semi-finals.
On league matters, New Oak Boys are leading the Nationalist Premier Division by five points, 12 clear of Crettyard in third. With things looking pretty comfortable for the reignng champions, they will get to meet again in the next round of the league, Crettyard no doubt ready to avenge Thursday night’s result.