City-South Minor Hurling Championship Final

Kildimo/Pallaskenry 0-20 Ballybrown 1-16. 

It’s always nice to win silverware, but it was a real delight to see minor hurling captain, Luke O’Keeffe, lift the cup this afternoon in Rathbane. It was a real cracker of a match, played between two neighbouring parishes and two real quality sides.

We had to contend with a strong breeze in the first half, but we did land the first score, a long-range free converted by Liam Griffin. Ballybrown levelled matters with a score from play before great work rate from our forwards forced the Ballybrown man to overcarry and Liam landed another free. Liam then exchanged frees with the Ballybrown freetaker before another point from play for Ballybrown had the scores at level. The lively Adam Butler hit our first score from play, as he slipped away from his marker but then the first goal chance went the way of Ballybrown. The Ballybrown nipped inside our full-back line and was hauled to ground, the referee awarding a penalty. James Mason did brilliantly to make the stop from the penalty, but a Ballybrown forward was quickest to react and batted the rebound home for a goal.

It was a blow, and Ballybrown also tagged on the next two scores, one from play and one from a free to open up a 4-point lead. But then we scored arguably the point of the game, a wonderful team move. James Pomeroy did brilliantly to win the ball, he found Shaun Barry who picked out Liam Griffin in space with a very clever pass, and Liam made no mistake with the shot. It was a score that we needed to stop the Ballybrown run of scores and although they would get the next point from a very tight angle, Liam was on the mark yet again shortly after with a free, after Shaun had been fouled. Ballybrown opened up a 4-point advantage again with a close-range free before it was our turn to hit a run of scores before the break.

Adam Butler hit two brilliant scores quick in succession, both from way out on the right touchline, showing his accuracy when given any bit of space. Then another great team move saw the ball worked to Shaun Barry in space, and Shaun took it on and put it over the bar with little fuss. The levelling score came from another placed ball, after Cathal Downes was tripped in the middle third, Liam again converting. Ballybrown did use the breeze to their advantage before the end of the first half, hitting a couple more points, one from play and one from a free. This left the half-time score at: Kildimo/Pallaskenry 0-10 Ballybrown 1-9.

We started the second half with a real energy and took the game by the scruff of the neck. Liam Griffin took control of the middle third and he landed a great point from play to reduce the gap to just one. Shortly after, James Pomeroy, now at wing-back, won a great ball, delivered down the wing to Liam, who stepped inside his marker and fired over on the angle to level the game once again. Ballybrown did go back in front with a free but momentum was now with us, and a James Mason puckout was brilliantly won by Cathal Downes. Cathal ran straight through on goal and popped it over the bar to level the game again. The next ball in towards the edge of the square was brilliantly caught by Mikey Hayes. He attempted to head through for a goal, but was hauled down just on the edge of the large parallelogram. Adam Butler popped the free over the bar to give us the lead.

But Ballybrown weren’t going to lie down without a fight, this was a match which was tight throughout and they hit a free and then a point from play to hit the front once again. The game was swinging one way then another but we had some good performances all over. James Mason was dominating his goalmouth with impressive confidence, Luke O’Keeffe was really marshalling the troops well at the back with the likes of James Pomeroy battling for every ball. Paudi Hartigan was getting on a lot of loose ball in midfield, along with Liam Griffin while Cathal Downes and Shaun Barry in particular were big targets on puckouts. Mikey Hayes was now winning his battle on the edge of the square with the likes of Adam Butler and Matthew Lucey feeding well off him.

Adam levelled matters again with his fourth point from open play, another very impressive display of sharpshooting from him. Mikey Hayes then brilliantly won a ball over his marker, but his shot on the turn went just wide. He didn’t let this affect him, however, and moments later, he won another ball and drove it over the bar from a tougher angle to put us back into the lead. Ballybrown levelled matters with another point from play but then we managed to drive into a small bit of a lead. Liam Griffin picked the ball up out wide, and landed what was also his fourth point from play in the game, and followed it up with a free from midfield, his 10th point in total. But every time it looked as though we might build up a lead, we were pegged back and this was the same again. They reduced the gap to just one point with a free, and then levelled it with a score from play. It was all square with only a couple of minutes remaining.

But with the game in the melting pot, our players did what was needed to over the line. Liam Griffin should quick hands and superb composure to pick up a loose ball and then spot Cathal Downes in space in midfield. Cathal took full advantage and landed a massive point to give us the lead. Matthew Lucey then showed his incredible pace and raced through the heart of the Ballybrown defence. The goal was definitely on, but his low shot was well-saved by the Ballybrown goalkeeper. However, we were able to work another free close to goal and Adam Butler extended our lead to two points as we entered injury time. Ballybrown launched another attack but only managed to get a point, and the lads held on for a superb victory!

It really was a battle, from start to finish; a really high quality game of hurling. There were superb individual displays all over the pitch, and every battled their heart out. There was great delight on the sideline and on the pitch at full-time; and it was very nice to see such a large crowd out in support of our young hurlers! Congratulations must go to the management team of John Barry, Brian Butler, Brian Barry, Liam Hayes and Alan Fitzgerald who had the team in fine shape and masterminded the victory. The season is far from over though, we now face into a County Semi-Final, and hopefully a Final beyond that. We could end up playing Ballybrown again. But for now, we’ll enjoy what was a great win. Well done to all concerned!

Team: James Mason; Cillian O’Farrell, Luke O’Keeffe, Mícheál Cuddihy; Jai Chaudri, Ciaran Downes, Liam O’Sullivan; Liam Griffin (0-10, 0-6 frees), Paudi Hartigan; Cathal Downes (0-2), Shaun Barry (0-1), James Pomeroy; Aaron O’Donovan, Mikey Hayes (0-1), Adam Butler (0-6, 0-2 frees)

Subs: Matthew Lucey for Jai Chaudri (half-time); JJ Mulcair for Ciaran Downes (60 mins)

Panel: Dara Mills, Daniel Pearse, Tadhg O’Shaughnessy, Luke Guinane, Ciaran Barry, Garry Sheehan, Eoin Sexton, Mark O’Shea, Dean O’Neill, Jamie Hickey, Ciaran Galvin, Sean Staff, Tommy Kelly Kiely, Odhran Behan

Management: John Barry, Brian Butler, Brian Barry, Liam Hayes, Alan Fitzgerald