By Seamus Hayes
Kilmaley 1-13 Feakle-Killanena 0-13
Kilmaley are the minor A hurling champions for the third time in six years, thanks to a merited one goal victory over Feakle-Killanena at Cusack Park on Saturday afternoon.
Appearing in the final for the third year in a row, they bounced back from last year’s loss to win back the title they last held in 2012.
The game’s only goal proved to be a crucial score and it came five minutes before the break when the elusive Sean O’Loughlin found the net
The winners went into the game with a full squad available and this meant that Sean Kennedy who missed the semi-final was back in the side. He emerged as the game’s top scorer with 0-11 to his credit, ten coming from placed balls.
This was one of a number of key performances for the winners. At the other end of the pitch, goalkeeper Conan Fitzgerald was outstanding, producing three particularly excellent stops, two in the opening half and the other at the start of the second half.
A number of the Feakle-Killanena side were seeking a double having helped Feakle to the intermediate title last week but, on the day, they had to give best to a better balanced Kilmaley who held the upperhand in the key areas.
For the second half the East Clare combination moved Steven Conway from full forward to a role in the half back/midfield area but try as they did they just could not breakdown a solid Kilmaley defence for the goal they needed.
At the half way point, it was 1-6 to 0-6 in favour of the winners and while Feakle-Killanena piled on the pressure on the resumption, the closest they got to the winners was two points.
Kilmaley raced into an early three point lead through Kennedy frees before Cathal Noonan opened Feakle-Killanena’s account. The new champions were dealt a huge blow after ten minutes when they lost full back Colin Hehir to a shoulder injury but, despite this, they continued to hold the upperhand right to the finish.
David Lynch, Padraig O’Connor, Michael O’Malley, Brian Cahill, Sean O’Loughlin Sean Kennedy and Conan Fitzgerald were prominent for the winners while Jason Keehan, Evan McMahon, Enda Noonan, Cathal Noonan and Paddy McNamara did best for the beaten finalists
***After the game Bord na nOg chairman Martin Reynolds presented the trophy to the winning captain Michael O’Malley
Kilmaley–Conan Fitzgerald; Gary Cahill, Colin Hehir, David Lynch; Cian O’Ceallaigh, Michael O’Malley, Conor Finnucane; Brian Cahill, Padraig O’Connor; Padraic McNamara, Sean Malone, Killian Normoyle (0-1); Sean Kennedy (0-11), 10 frees, Sean O’Loughlin (1-1), Aidan Kennedy;
Subs—Eoin Keane for Hehir (inj.); Bryan Colleran for Normoyle; Aidan Griffey for O’Connor (inj); Rafe Queally for Malone;
Feakle-Killanena;–Michael Burke; Andrew Flaherty, Evan McMahon, Tobias O’Meara; Jason Keehan Con Smyth (0-1) Seamus Keane; Enda Doonan (0-1) Sean Glynn; Martin Daly (0-1), Dara McNamara, Cathal Noonan (0-1); Eric Conway (0-1), Steven Conway, Paddy McNamara (0-8), 6 frees.
Referee—-Damian Fox, Clooney-Quin