U14 Hurling County Final 2018

Kildimo/Pallaskenry 0-5 Kilmallock 6-7

After a brilliant season, where our U-14 hurlers have thrilled us with some fantastic hurling and a reached a County Final; sadly our U-14s were defeated on the day by a strong Kilmallock side. The scoreline doesn’t reflect the ability of our team who fought valiantly throughout and actually played a lot of the better hurling for large periods but Kilmallock’s ability to get goals at vital times proved crucial. But our young stars can be proud of their performances throughout the year, and they gave it everything in the final, which is all that can be asked for!

We started very brightly and were the better team in the opening ten minutes and got the first couple of scores. A David Fitzgerald free found its way as far as Ryan Manning, who pointed on the turn for the opening score of the game. Down the other end, Kilmallock signalled their intent to go for goal right from the start but Niall Rushe produced a fantastic double save to keep them at bay and the ball was cleared to the right wing where Ryan Manning went on a fantastic solo run, showing his power and athleticism, before producing a wonderful strike from way out on the right touchline which crept inside the left-hand upright for the second score of the game. At this point, the running of the likes of Ryan as well as Ciarán McMahon and David Fitzgerald in midfield was causing Kilmallock problems while Fionn McAuley and Dylan Moloney were proving useful as ballwinners. We were then trying to feed the inside forward line, with Seán Hartigan and Calum Coughlan constantly moving and causing problems for their markers.

But Kilmallock had a couple of dangerous forwards of their own, and Niall Rushe was again forced into a great save, this a spectacular low save to his left. But Kilmallock would soon get their first score, a point from play. There was actual strong defensive work by Seán Kavanagh and Seamus Stokes to force the Kilmallock dangerman away from goal but he settled for point, which they followed up with a pointed free. Niall had performed heroics between the sticks for Kildimo/Pallaskenry so far, but he was eventually beaten by a well-struck Kilmallock effort, before they managed to get another after a quick free found the full-forward in space. There was no chance for anyone to stop that effort, which was an absolute piledriver. But we responded well to the run of Kilmallock scores, a powerful run by Dylan Moloney opened up the Kilmallock defence but sadly, his shot was well-saved by the goalkeeper and managed to be cleared. David Fitzgerald did manage to fire over a point to stop the run of Kilmallock scores, and Ciarán McMahon added a very nice point after a great run on the other side of a third Kilmallock goal.

Edward McLoughlin was a tower of strength at centre-back, going toe-to-toe with the Kilmallock centre-forward in what was a great tussle and he was well-marshalled on either side by Seamus Stokes and Eoin Mulvihill, and later Joey McCarthy. Conor McMahon was picking some good positions and getting on the ball as the spare man, while Seán Kavanagh, James Ranahan and Ethan Browne were snuffing out space inside. However, playing against the wind in the first half gave Kilmallock a big advantage at puckout time and they were able to build up a lot of momentum, and they finished the half with three more points but our backs did really well to deny them further goal chances. We went in at the break down on a scoreline of: Kildimo/Pallaskenry 0-4 Kilmallock 3-5.

But despite being down, we knew the game was far from over, our lads had shown an ability to get a run of scores all year even if this was our biggest test. To be fair, they came out fighting in the second half but Kilmallock defended very deep against the wind and were determined not to let us get any goals. So while we had a lot of possession and did the majority of the hurling, we were unable to break down a very well-structured Kilmallock defence. They hit us with a sucker punch early in the half as they netted a goal, but this was responded to with a good point from Fionn McAuley, spinning away from his marker.

But we started to chase goals and the Kilmallock players continued to get their blocks in. There was really impressive build-up play, particularly from the likes of Ciarán McMahon and Ryan Manning but we were unable to make that vital breakthrough despite piling on a lot of pressure. On many occasions, the Kilmallock defence was happy to concede the free 20-25 yards out from goal to prevent us from building the opportunity and they continuously stopped those frees and made the clearances. It was quite frustrating for our players at times, and Kilmallock were able to find space down the other end as we pushed forward and added a couple more scores.

Sadly, it was not to be but nevertheless, it has been a great season. Many thanks to all our U-14 hurlers for entertaining us over the course of the year, and going all the way to the county final! Thanks also to the management team of John Stokes, John McCarthy, Adrian Garvey, Eamon Nealon, Kevin Aherne and Caroline Stokes on first aid for all their time and efforts throughout the year; you can be very proud! Thanks also to James Stokes who sponsored gear for the final!

Team: Niall Rushe; Seán Kavanagh, James Ranahan, Ethan Browne; Seamus Stokes, Edward McLoughlin, Eoin Mulvihill; Ciarán McMahon (0-1), David Fitzgerald (0-1); Ryan Manning (0-2), Dylan Moloney, Fionn McAuley (0-1); Calum Coughlan, Seán Hartigan, Conor McMahon

Subs: Joe Fitzgerald, Jamie Rodgers, Ben Higgins, Joey McCarthy, Patrick Kenny, Ken Leahy, Andrew Farrell, Jonathan McLoughlin