Éire Óg 0-15
THEY weren’t given much chance of success by most hurling followers outside their club. And when Éire Óg went eight points behind in the first quarter of Sunday’s U-21A Hurling Championship final at Cusack Park, a one-sided game appeared to be on the cards.
However, a strong last 10 minutes to the half, when they outscored the title-holders 0-5 to 0-1, laid the foundations for a memorable second half performance from the town side.
Inspired by the Kevin Moynihan at centre-back and David O’Halloran in attack, they turned the tables on the favourites and when the final whistle sounded they were in front, a fact that resulted in great scenes of celebration amongst their supporters.
In 11 final appearances since 1964, this was only Éire Óg’s third success and it could hardly have come at a better time, as the club has been struggling for success at adult level in recent years.
Sixmilebridge got off to a dream start with Caimin Morey putting a point on the scoreboard within the first minute. This was followed within seconds by a Declan Morey goal after he had won possession from Caimin Morey. Shane Golden, Christy Griffin and Kevin Lynch added points before the game was 10 minutes old with the Ennis side struggling to get to grips with the game.
Sixmilebridge captain Sam O’Sullivan pointed a free in the 13th minute and a further seven minutes went by before David O’Halloran converted a 65’ to open the Ennis side’s account. Prior to this O’Halloran had missed two frees but after landing the opening point for his side, he grew in confidence and finished the game with 0-13 to his credit.
It was a similar story throughout the field for the Ennis side and full-back Cormac O’Regan was another case in point. His direct opponent scored the game’s only goal in the opening minute but thereafter, O’Regan was the dominant figure on the edge of the Éire Óg square, dominating a variety of opponents.
The new champions finished the first half strongly, outscoring the favourites by four points in the final 10 minutes to leave the half time score at 1-6 to 0-5 in favour of the defending champions.
For the second half, Sixmilebridge made two changes to their attack, bringing in Rory Shanahan and Alan Mulready for Ronan Mullane and Kevin Lynch. Thomas Downes had the first score of the half with a fine point to leave a goal between the sides.
Sixmilebridge then struck for three points without reply from Declan and Caimin Morey and Rory Shanahan which suggested they had weathered the Éire Óg storm.
But the Ennis side simply refused to give up.
With Kevin Moynihan in magnificent form at centre-back, ably assisted by flankers Ciarán Hanna and Cathal Whelan, they took control. Four O’Halloran points, two from play, followed in five minutes to leave just two points between the teams after ten minutes of the half.
A Declan Morey point pushed the gap out to three but Éire Óg continued to bounce back and three O’Halloran frees had the teams level with six minutes remaining. Two minutes later they were in front for the first time when teenager O’Halloran struck again from a 50m free. He then landed an excellent effort from play to make the margin two with three minutes remaining.
The ’Bridge re-introduced Kevin Lynch and then launched a strong attack. Camin Morey went for a goal from a 20m free but Kevin Brennan saved before Morey’s piledriver from the rebound was deflected over the bar by Thomas Downes, who was back helping out his defence.
In the first minute of injury time, Morey saw his effort from a 95m free go to the left of Brennan’s upright and wide and seconds later Éire Óg players were jumping for joy after ending a 33-year wait for this title.
In general, their defence was superb with Kevin Moynihan, in particular, Cathal Whelan and Cormac O’Regan standing out. Dean Ryan got through a lot of work at midfield while up front, David O’Halloran was the star of the show while Thomas Downes also did some excellent work.
Eoin Quinn, Trevor Purcell and Paidi Fitzpatrick worked hard in the Sixmilebridege defence but elsewhere they struggled for much of the game.
After the game, Clare County board’s PRO, Syl O’Connor presented the trophy to Éire Óg captain, Kevin Brennan.
Éire Óg: Kevin Brennan (capt); Kevin Hally, Cormac O’Regan, Ciarán Russell; Ciarán Hanna, Kevin Moynihan, Cathal Whelan; Noel Murphy, Dean Ryan; Graham Glynn, Brian Dolan, Colin Malone; Thomas Downes, Danny Russell, David O’Halloran.
Subs: Fiachra Connellan for Dolan (41 minutes); Aaron Fitzgerald for Malone (44 minutes).
Scorers: David O’Halloran (0-13) eight frees, one 65’; Thomas Downes, Dean Ryan (0-1) each.
Sixmilebridge: Stephen Fleming; Ger Quilligan, Eoin Quinn, Noel Purcell; Trevor Purcell, Paidi Fitzpatrick, Ray McNamara; Shane Golden, Christy Griffin; Caimin Morey, Sam O’Sullivan, Barry O’Connor; Ronan Mullane, Declan Morey, Kevin Lynch.
Subs: Rory Shanahan for Mullane (half time); Alan Mulready for Lynch (half time); Lynch for Griffin (58 minutes).
Scorers: Declan Morey (1-2); Caimin Morey (0-3), one free Sam O’Sullivan (0-2), one free; Shane Golden, Christy Griffin, Kevin Lynch, Rory Shanahan (0-1) each
Referee: Fergus McDonagh, St Joseph’s.
A CONTRBUTION of 2-2 from teenager Aaron Cunningham inspired Wolfe Tones to a three point win in the U-21B hurling championship final played in ideal conditions at Cusack Park on Saturday.
The 17-year-old son of well-known hurling coach Alan, struck for a goal in each half, the second putting his side into a commanding position five minutes into the second period.
A physically stronger Wolfe Tones outfit took the lead for the first time with Cunningham’s opening goal nine minutes before the end of the first half. By half-time, they had stretched their advantage to five. When Cunningham struck for his second goal, Smith O’Brien’s had a huge task on their hands.
Smith O’Brien’s will point to the winners’ opening goal as a major turning point in this final. Their goalkeeper Mark Stritch had possession but as he was in the process of clearing his lines, Cunningham flicked the ball to the net.
To their credit they came storming back but the absence of a reliable freetaker proved very costly as they missed some great scoring opportunities.
While Liam Walsh, one of their stars on the way to the final, did line out despite having fractured his thumb in the previous week’s semi-final replay, he didn’t take up the freetaking duties on this occasion.
The Killaloe side got off to a dream start when full-forward Eoin Ryan broke through for a goal after four minutes. However, they failed to build on this and by the end of the opening quarter, Wolfe Tones had drawn level thanks to points from Daniel Gallery (two frees) and Kevin McCafferty.
The aforementioned Liam Walsh put Smith O’Brien’s back in front after taking a pass from his brother Kevin, who followed with one from a free, to put the Killaloe side two clear with 20 minutes played.
From here to the half-time whistle, Wolfe Tones dominated. Russell Lagan pointed before Cunningham hit for his team’s first goal. Two more pointed frees from Gallery and one from play from Cunningham left the half-time score at 1-7 to 1-2 in the Shannon club’s favour.
A Gary Leahy effort for a goal from a penalty was saved two minutes into the second half but the new champions didn’t have long to wait for their second goal as Cunningham struck with an unstoppable shot to the corner five minutes into the half. The goal came moments after Smith O’Brien’s had failed to capitalise on a chance at the other end.
In the seventh minute of the half, Smith O’Brien’s hit back when Kevin Walsh got the final touch to bring the margin back to five points. It was still a five-point gap at the end of the third quarter after both sides had added points.
Cunningham then made it six before Smith O’Brien’s had their best spell and they hit five unanswered points to cut the margin to the minimum with a minute of normal time remaining. They had a couple of great chances to tie up the game but failed to avail of these. When three minutes of added time were signalled, a draw looked to be on the cards as Smith O’Brien’s were piling on the pressure.
Wolfe Tones, to their credit, didn’t panic and they finished strongly with a brace of points from Daniel Gallery to seal victory.
Joe McGauley, Stephen McInerney, Seán Condron, Daniel Gallery and particularly Aaron Cunningham stood out for the winners. Mark McInerney, Luke Hession, Pat Vaughan, in the opening half, Liam Walsh and Micheál Ryan in the last quarter, did best for Smith O’Brien’s.
After the game Clare GAA assistant secretary Des Crowe presented the Tommy Morey Memorial Cup to the winning captain Seán Condron.
Wolfe Tones: Paul Hogan; John Madigan, Joe McGauley, Gary Whelan; David Ryan, Stephen McInerney, Steven Simmonds; Seán Condron (capt) Russel Lagan; John Guilfoyle, Daniel Gallery, Gary Leahy; Aaron Cunningham, Aidan McMahon, Kevin McCafferty.
Sub: Brian Williams for McMahon (36 minutes).
Bookings: Steven Simmonds (36 minutes); John Madigan (39 minutes); Gary Whelan (44 minutes).
Scorers: Aaron Cunningham (2-2), Daniel Gallery (0-7), 6 frees; Kevin McCafferty, Russel Lagan (0-1) each.
Smith O’Brien’s: Mark Stritch; Kevin McEvoy, Mark McInerney, Noel Howard; Aidan McKeogh, Brian McInerney, Luke Hession; Pat Vaughan (captain) Kevin Walsh; Mark O’Halloran, Dean Sinnott, Keith Stritch; Micheál Ryan, Eoin Ryan, Liam Walsh.
Sub: Cian Moloney for Sinnott (59 minutes).
Bookings: Eoin Ryan (27 minutes) Kevin McEvoy (57 minutes).
Scorers: Kevin Walsh (1-2), 0-2 frees; Micheál Ryan (0-4), all frees Eoin Ryan (1-0) Liam Walsh, Dean Sinnott (0-1) each.
Referee: Jim Hickey, Cratloe.
ENNISTYMON hurling history was made at Cusack Park on Sunday evening when the North Clare club, appearing in the U-21C final for the first time, captured the honours with a victory over favourites Sixmilebridge.
The game’s only goal came 13 minutes from time and proved to be a vital score, as Sixmilebridge had scored the previous three points to cut the deficit to the minimum. Apart from the opening minute, the winners were never behind on a day that is always sure to hold a special place in the club’s history.
Barry Deasy converted a 90m free for Sixmilebridge in the opening minute to give them the lead for the only time in the game but this score was quickly cancelled out by a Cathal Malone effort.
The Ennistymon centre-forward proved to be one of the stars of his side’s victory scoring 0-8 of their tally, all from frees. He scored the last two points of the first half to leave his side 0-6 to 0-4 in front at the halfway point.
The ’Bridge cut the deficit to the minimum inside the opening minute of the second half but then Ennistymon had three-in-a-row from Malone to go four clear by the ninth minute. They were fortunate not to concede a goal in the second minute when their goalie Cathal McDonagh had difficulty in controlling a delivery from Seadna Morey.
It was Morey who sparked a mini-revival for the ’Bridge with points in the 10th and 13th minutes, both from frees.These were followed by a long range Pa Sheehan effort from play to leave a point between the teams entering the final quarter.
Shortly before the end of the third quarter, the North Clare side introduced Michael Houlihan and he struck for the game’s only goal two minutes into the final quarter, after he won possession from an Aidan Slattery delivery. It proved to be a vital strike and it was also a huge blow to Sixmilebridge hopes of getting back on terms.
The North Claremen didn’t score again but they defended strongly from here to the final whistle and only conceded two more scores.
On what was an historic day for the club, Aidan Slattery and Cathal Malone were prominent throughout, while Enda Ralph, Seán Driscoll and Tadhg Malone also played important roles.
For a disappointing Sixmilebridge outfit, Eanna Burns, Barry Donnellan and John Fennessy worked well in defence while Seadna Morey and, to a lesser extent, Ronan O’Shea threatened up front.
After the game, the cup was presented to the winning captain Tadhg Malone by county board officer, John Fawl, a member of the Ennistymon club.
Ennistymon: Cathal McDonagh; David Davenport, Enda Ralph; Brian Houlihan, Michael McDonagh, Aidan Slattery; Seán Driscoll, Dara Conneely; Darren Mullins, Cathal Malone, Daire Ralph; Darragh Sexton, Tadhg Malone (capt).
Subs: Liam Ganley for Sexton (20 minutes); Michael Houlihan for Conneely (41 minutes).
Scorers: Cathal Malone (0-8), all frees; Michael Houlihan (1-0) Darren Mullins (0-1).
Sixmilebridge: Pa Freeman; Jason Murphy, Eanna Burns; Michael Reddan, John Fennessy, Barry Donnellan; Pa Sheehan, Barry Deasy; Darragh O’Connor, Seadna Morey, Robert McNamara; Ronan O’Shea, Paul Corbett.
Sub: Seán Lynch for Deasy (52 minutes).
Scorers: Seadna Morey (0-4), all frees; Pa Sheehan (0-2); Barry Deasy (free), Darragh O’Connor, Ronan O’Shea, Seán Lynch 0-1) each.
Referee: John Dolan, Clarecastle.