Reapy to the Rescue as Davitts Retain Title (1985)
Davitts retained their county under-21 title in dramatic style at Charlestown on Saturday evening when they staved of the challenge of Ballina Stephenites in a memorable struggle.
It was a game that brought out the best in both sides in a match which could have gone either way, but in the end it was left to Joe Reapy in the dying seconds from a close range free to tilt the scales in favour of the Davitts lads.
And they probably just about deserved it having slogged much harder than Ballina over the hour, but it also could be argued that Ballina had the winning of this game and in the end they were punished severely for their tendency to overplay the ball when more direct football might have been more prudent.
The game got off to an electrifying start when inside two minutes Martin McGrath stuck the ball in the Davitts net with a goal of the highest quality.
Davitts were momentarily stunned but when Liam Brennan added a point for Ballina it was to be their last score of the half.
Kevin Griffin and Martin Trench were beginning to siphon off some of the power of McHale and Karl Rowe at midfield and two points were shaved off the Ballina lead in the 10th and 13th minutes, both from full forward Liam Nyland from a free and from play.
The goal which Davitts had been threatening to score finally came in the 23rd minute when Jim Treacy chipped the ball invitingly across the square where Nyland rose high to meet it with his fist and deflect it to the net.
Minutes earlier Treacy himself had a golden opportunity to find the net but shot wide after Ballina keeper Kevin Garrett advanced to narrow the angle.
Ballina were reeling again in the 25th minute when John Treacy cut through the defence before shooting low to the net. Earlier Jim Treacy had tapped over a point and when Nyland finished the half with another point to leave Davitts 2-4 to 1-1 in front, Ballina looked beaten.
But similar to their whirlwind opening to the game, Ballina had the ball once again in the Davitts net within 30 seconds of the restart. And again it was a goal of the highest quality with Liam Brennan sending a fine shot from 30 yards after McHale and Brennan had set up the movement.
By the 41st minute Ballina had hauled themselves back into the game with points from Martin McGrath (2) and McHale levelling the matters.
With eight minutes remaining they still stood level- Dave Honan and Joe Reapy having exchanged points- and with four minutes remaining they were level again with McHale and Jim Treacy swapping points from play.
It was left to Reapy in the dying seconds to snatch victory with a 21-yard free but he could have saved the large Davitts support a lot of anxiety if he or Liam Nyland converted an earlier opportunity from a free while the woodwork also came to Ballina’s rescue in those tense final few minutes.
For Davitts, as for Ballina, it was very much a team display with Tom Ronayne, Bertie Penney and Owen Martin proving very solid along with Anthony McLoughlin and Martin Cosgrove in defence.
Kevin Griffin worked hard at midfield where Martin Trench tried his best, while up front John and Jim Treacy, Liam Nyland and Joe Reapy were always a threat.
Davitts: M. Kearns, T. Ronayne, B. Penney, O. Martin, A. McLoughlin, M. Cosgrove, K. Griffin, M. Trench, J. Treacy (1-0), J. Reapy (0-2), M. Mitchell, L. Nyland (1-3), Jim Treacy (0-2). Subs: T. O’Connor (for Mitchell), P. Cunnane (for Trench).