Minor Hurling Championship 2021

Kildimo/Pallaskenry 3-25 Kilmallock 0-9

Our minor hurlers had a fine victory in Kilmallock in their second fixture of the Championship campaign, running out convincing winners in the end. These two sides notably met three years ago in the U-14 ‘A’ County Final, with Kilmallock claiming victory on the day on a 6-7 to 0-5 score-line. There has been some turnaround in the three years since, and this was an impressive performance from the entire team. They laid down a marker from the very start, exerting dominance on the Kilmallock puckout and getting plenty of bodies to the breaking ball. Ryan Manning had a couple of early runs down the right flank, while Ciarán McMahon and Conor McMahon linked up well down the left and centre. Seán Hartigan’s movement inside in the full-forward line was wreaking havoc and he had a couple of early goals, while Davy Fitzgerald added a great score from distance.

A quick blitz just before the first water break arguably finished this game as a contest. A great ball was played across the square by Robert O’Farrell which found Seánie Hartigan. He weaved inside and out before firing the ball past the keeper, who could do absolutely nothing about it. This was followed up moments later by Davy Fitz bursting forward from centre-back. His shot dropped just under the crossbar and, perhaps fortuitously, ended up in the back of the net. Kilmallock did respond with a pointed free but Ryan Manning hit a fine score to go in ten points up at the water break.

Kilmallock did hit back after the break; they pulled some players back the field and began to break even on the midfield breaks which had been dominated by the likes of Eddie McLoughlin and Davy Fitz previously. James Ranahan did link up with Seán Hartigan for the corner-forward to hit yet another score, before good work from Eddie McLoughlin freed Davy Fitzgerald, who then found Ciarán McMahon for his first score. Kilmallock hit a couple of scores in a row, and we added a couple of frees before we rallied for a few more scores before the break. Arguably the score of the half came after some great team play involving Ciarán McMahon and James Ranahan before Séamus Stokes fired over a lovely point. Down at the other end, Kilmallock did threaten too and Niall Rushe did have to pull off a couple of spectacular saves in quick succession. The second of these, in particular, denied an absolute certain goal and it showed that Kilmallock were still a threat. At half-time, we led Kildimo/Pallaskenry 2-12 Kilmallock 0-7.

The fact that Kilmallock were still a threat was acknowledged at half-time and it was a thoroughly professional second half performance as from 1-15, our players squeezed Kilmallock and killed the game off. Our watertight defence only conceded two points in the entire second half, a hugely impressive feat. They were helped by some great work rate from our forward players; it must be mentioned again how this was a complete team performance. Kilmallock hit the first score of the second half but wouldn’t score again for a long period as we took total control of the game. A great tackle from Dylan Moloney saw Ciarán McMahon link up with Davy Fitzgerald who burst forward to get another point from play. Davy then found that inside ball to Seán Hartigan which caused countless problems and Seánie added yet another point. Joey McCarthy arrived off the bench full of life and added a wonderscore from out the field. Ciarán McMahon’s playmaking influence was really evident and he linked up well with Conor McMahon, who added another score.

Eddie McLoughlin was next on the scoresheet with his first point from play, after some fantastic play in the build-up by the tower of strength at wing-back, Dylan Moloney. The score of the game was to arrive shortly after. It started when Shane O’Sullivan turned over the opposition deep in our own half, and he found Eoin Mulvihill at wing-back. Eoin showed fantastic vision and composure to play a great ball up the line to Fionn McAuley, another of the legion of impact subs this team has. It was already a great team move, but Fionn showed phenomenal individual skill to burst forward past the defender and unleash a superb shot from out the field which went high but straight over the black spot to the delight of the vocal Kildimo/Pallaskenry supporters. Kilmallock hit one more score before the second half water break, where we led by sixteen points.

The lads really kicked for home in the final quarter, outscoring our opponents by 1-6 to 0-0. They were ruthless in their approach and the men from the bench made a real impact, with the likes of Calum Coughlan and Seán Kavanagh getting through an amount of work. A classy score from Seánie Hartigan added to his tally and Davy Fitzgerald then drove right through the heart of the Kilmallock defence to land another superb score. Seánie added another before we raised our third green flag. Joey McCarthy’s shot dropped just short, but dangerously in around the square and James Ranahan showed his presence to divert the ball to the back of the net. Seánie was drifting everywhere and was completely unmarkable, and added two more scores before Conor McMahon rounded off the scoring. 

This was an excellent display from our lads against one of the traditional big guns of Limerick hurling, a performance that really emphasises how these lads have improved year on year, and will hopefully continue to improve into the future. There are certainly things that can be improved upon; Kilmallock primarily scored from frees and cutting down that free count will be an aim going forward. We also had a number of shots drop short but, despite this, still racked up a fantastic final tally. A really good performance but two huge matches still to come against Cappamore and Garryspillane before any place in the knockout stages can be secured. Well done to all the players and their management team!

Team: Niall Rushe; Shane O’Sullivan, Ben Higgins, Ethan Browne; Eoin Mulvihill, Davy Fitzgerald (1-6, 0-2 frees), Dylan Moloney; Séamus Stokes (0-1), Eddie McLoughlin (0-1); Ryan Manning (0-1), Ciarán McMahon (0-1), Conor McMahon (0-2); Seán Hartigan (1-11, 0-3 frees), James Ranahan (1-0), Robert O’Farrell
Subs: Joey McCarthy (0-1) for Robert O’Farrell; Fionn McAuley (0-1) for Ryan Manning; Calum Coughlan for Eddie McLoughlin; Seán Kavanagh for Séamus Stokes; Patrick Kenny for Shane O’Sullivan
Panel: Joe Fitzgerald, Tiernan Meaney, Ken Leahy, Jonathan McLoughlin, Cian Arthur, Ross Allen