Kilmaley 0-12 Sixmilebridge 0-10
A POWERFUL defensive performance inspired Kilmaley to a merited victory over favourites Sixmilebridge in a most entertaining Minor A Hurling Championship final at Cusack Park on Saturday evening.
Two well-matched teams – they had played a draw in the early rounds of the competition – gave the big attendance plenty to cheer about. In the final analysis, however, it was the workrate of Kilmaley and, in particular, the play of their full back trio that inspired this victory, their third in the history of the competition.
Two points clear at the three-quarter stage after scoring four-in-a-row, Sixmilebridge looked to be in the driving seat but five unanswered points in the space of eight minutes turned this tie firmly in Kilmaley’s favour.
The ’Bridge’s decision to play an extra defender when they went two clear proved costly and only helped to allow the Kilmaley backs to strengthen their grip on proceedings.
The final whistle sparked scenes of celebration amongst Kilmaley players, officials and supporters with Sixmilebridge having to content themselves with the runners-up position for a second year in succession.
The win proved to be extra special for Kilmaley captain Michael Pyne as he celebrated his birthday on Saturday.
Sixmilebridge had the first scoring chance but Alan Mulready was denied by a tigerish Kilmaley defence. The game’s top scorer, Kilmaley’s Dara Keane, opened the scoring in the fourth minute and the winners’ advantage was quickly doubled when Killian McNamara pointed.
The favourites opened their account in the 10th minute when Pa Sheehan had the game’s first score from a free. Timmy Crowe and Shane Golden followed with points as the ’Bridge took a one-point lead.
The sides were level for the second of six times when Keane won possession from a John Cabey delivery to score the second of his nine points.
Points were exchanged twice in the next seven minutes before two Keane efforts edged his side two clear at half time, when the score was 0-7 to 0-5. Kilmaley’s lead could have been at least a point greater at this stage but shortly before the half time whistle, Keane tried for a goal from a 20m free but his effort was saved.
Sixmilebridge introduced Ray McNamara and Brian Carey for the second half and also made some positional switches. They had the better of matters in the opening 10 minutes of the half adding points from Pa Sheehan, Jamie O’Gorman and Shane Golden (2), while also guilty of a few misses.
With their defence getting better as the game progressed, Kilmaley regained the upperhand and Dara Keane had their first score of the half at the three-quarter stage when he converted a 35m free.
Keane then struck a superb score from play to level the game for the sixth and final time and within a minute, Michael O’Neill had Kilmaley back in front.
Enda Finnucane and Keane followed with like scores to put Kilmaley three clear with six minutes to go. A Pa Sheehan effort brought it back to two five minutes from time.
In the remaining time, Sixmilebridge tried hard to get back on terms but they simply could not find a way past the Kilmaley defence.
The full-back trio of Niall McGuane, Martin O’Connor and Stephen Griffey excelled while team captain Michael Pyne, Colin McGuane and Eoin Fitzgerald also ruled.
Elsewhere, Eoin Enright had a particularly impressive first half, Killian McNamara also had a great first half and Dara Keane did well in what was an overall fine team performance.
Noel and Trevor Purcell, Kevin Lynch, Pa Sheehan Jamie Shanahan and Shane Golden did well for Sixmilebridge.
After the game, Ann Chaplin presented the Willie Chaplin Memorial Trophy to the winning captain Michael Pyne.
Kilmaley: Brian O’Loughlin, Niall McGuane, Martin O’Connor, Stephen Griffey, Michael Pyne, Colin McGuane, Eoin Fitzgerald, John Cabey, Eoin Enright, Killian McNamara, Enda Finnucane, Michael O’Neill, Dara Keane, Danny Clohessy, Paul Kennedy.
Subs: Seán Hayes for McNamara; Shane Culligan for Kennedy.
Scorers: Dara Keane (0-9, six frees); Killian McNamara, Michael O’Neill and Enda Finnucane (0-1) each.
Sixmilebridge: Stephen Fleming, Eanna Burns, Noel Purcell, Trevor Purcell, Seadna Morey, Kevin Lynch, Barry Donnellan, Cathal O’Connor, Pa Sheehan, Seán Lynch, Shane Golden, Alan Mulready, Jamie O’Gorman, Timmy Crowe, Jamie Shanahan.
Subs: Ray McNamara for B Donnellan; Brian Carey for S. Lynch; Lynch for J O’Gorman.
Scorers: Shane Golden (0-4); Pa Sheehan (0-3, frees); Timmy Crowe (0-2); Jamie O’Gornan (0-1).
Referee: Jim Hickey, Cratloe