Sixmilebridge 4-10 Inagh-Kilnamona 2-10.
Cusack Park, Ennis was the venue for this much anticipated Under 15A Hurling Final between Sixmilebridge and Inagh-Kilnamona last Sunday. As these two teams hadn’t met each other at this, or Under 14A, level in over 15 months, no one was sure what to expect, and it didn’t disappoint. Considering it was mid-November the conditions were perfect for hurling with brilliant sunshine and a cross-field breeze slightly favouring the town end which the ‘Bridge were playing with in the first half.
The ‘Bridge started much the better team and for the first five minutes they kept attacking the Inagh-Kilnamona goal, only to be repelled each time by a dogged Inagh-Kilnamona defence. Sean McNamara finally broke the deadlock in the fifth minute, pointing from a free and this was followed within a minute by David kennedy and Dylan Downes points, both adding one each from play. Inagh-Kilnamona however were coming more into this game and, following some good solid hurling from their midfield and half forward line, Conor Hegarty finally opened their account eleven minutes in, when he struck the first of three points in as many minutes to bring the game level. Sean McNamara edged the ‘Bridge back in front from a pointed free on fifteen minutes, but it was Inagh-Kilnamona who were now dictating matters.
Conor Hegarty and Josh Guyler were causing the Sixmilebridge midfield and half back line serious problems, while Colm Kearney was well on top in their halfback line. Guyler hit a cracking point sixteen minutes in and two minutes later looked like he had another one, but Cian Fawl on the ‘Bridge goal line reached his hurley high and brought the sliotar back into play. Unfortunately for him, Niall Mullins was on hand to bury it into the back of the ‘Bridge net. Luke O’Halloran and David Kennedy got two points back for the ‘Bridge, before Conor Hegarty and Josh Guyler canceled these with two for Inagh-Kilnamona. O’Halloran had a chance of a goal on the stroke of halftime but, striking from a very tight angle, Jack O’Connor had it well covered sending the ball over the end line for a 65 which Evan Murphy pointed to keep the ‘Bridge in contention. Half time score Sixmilebridge 0-7 Inagh-Kilnamona 1-6.
The ‘Bridge moved Leon Kelly out to midfield at halftime to man mark Conor Hegarty, moving Evan Murphy to wing back. Ronan Mescall put Inagh-Kilnamona three points clear within a minute of the restart with a well taken point. The ‘Bridge response was immediate, with David Kennedy hitting a good pass to Dylan Downes who found Luke O’Halloran at the edge of the square. He made no mistake rattling the Inagh-Kilnamona net. Dylan Downes himself put the ‘Bridge ahead two minutes later when, after great run from midfield, he slotted over a super point.
Inagh-Kilnamona were not finished yet however, and for the next ten minutes they put the ‘Bridge backline under severe pressure. In this period, they scored 1-2 without reply with the goal being identical to their first, only this time it was dipping below the cross bar leaving Cian Fawl no choice but to bat it out where it was met by Ronan Mescall who made sure it ended up in the back of the net. Four points down with fifteen minutes left, the ‘Bridge were in trouble.
They needed to up their game and to be fair to them they did just that. The ‘Bridge half backline led by the powerful Storm Devanney and ably assisted by Evan Murphy and Captain Darragh Toomey took control and gave our lads a huge launch pad for the final 10 minutes. From midfield and half forward line the ‘Bridge were getting strong direct runs from Matthew Hurley, Luke Keogh and Dylan Downes, which put Inagh-Kilnamona on the back foot and swung the momentum back towards the ‘Bridge. When Evan Murphy hit a high ball towards the Inagh-Kilnamona goal 20 minutes in, it was met first time in the air by Luke O’Halloran and ended up in the back of the net. It was a brilliant goal and it lifted the ‘Bridge lads. A minute later David Kennedy won possession out on the corner and broke free of his marker. His shot lacked power but it had enough to get over the line to put the ‘Bridge 2 points up. It put a serious dent in Inagh-Kilnamona’s challenge and when Luke O’Halloran completed his hattrick of goals in the 25th minute the game was over. Matthew Hurley finished the scoring with a point from 40m well into injury time to top off a brilliant second half display by the ‘Bridge lads. They were under 15A county champions and thoroughly deserved it.
This was an excellent game of hurling with the lead swinging back and forth on several occasions and both teams played top quality hurling. It could have gone either way right up to the end, but the ‘Bridge got the crucial goals that were needed to win.
For Inagh-Kilnamona, Conor Hegarty, Josh Guyler, and Colm Kearney were outstanding putting the ‘Bridge midfield and half back line under serious pressure for extended periods.
For Sixmilebridge, in a game where goals would decide the outcome Luke O’Halloran got 3-1, with his fellow U14 David Kennedy contributing 1-3 alongside him in the corner. Leon Kelly did great defending in the first half and sacrificed his own game in the second half to try and reduce the threat Conor Hegarty was presenting. Likewise Colin Kelly did a tremendous disciplined job at Full back from midway through the first half to allow Storm Devanney out the field to augment our middle third. Matthew Hurley, Dylan Downes, Luke Keogh showed leadership when there was a danger of ‘Bridge heads dropping half way through the second half, when it was most needed.
Special thanks also to the management team Shane Golden, Tommy Liddy, Mickey Russell, Tadgh Keogh, Mike Toomey, Mike O’Halloran (First Aid) for giving up their time to coach these young lads especially with some of them involved with their own senior championship.
The squad enjoyed a triumphant return back through Kilmurry and up the village from the Square and enjoyed a well deserved meal in the Clubhouse thanks to the staff from O’Flynn’s Centra
Sixmilebridge: Cian Fawl, Ferdia O Lionain, Storm Devanney, Adam O’Sullivan, Leon Kelly, Darragh Toomey (Captain), Colin Kelly, Evan Murphy (0-1(65)), Dylan Downes (0-2), Matthew Hurley (0-1), Sean McNamara (0-2F), Luke Keogh, David Kennedy (1-3,0-1F), Luke O’Halloran (3-1), Evan O’Callaghan, Conor Morey, James Egan, Eoin Morby, Darren Quinn, Dara Casey, Michael Carey, Noel Flynn, Colm Flynn, Edmond O’Grady, Cian Gleeson, Jack Hughes, Scott Kirkland, Adam Murray, Morgan O’Connell.
Inagh/Kilnamona: Jack O’Connor, Shane woods, Jason Downes, Liam Callinan (captain), Keith Barry, Colm Kearney, Mark O’Brien, Connor Hegarty, Cormac Devitt, Josh Guyler, Dean McInerney, Daniel Rynne, Ronan Mescall, Eoghan Foudy, Niall Mullins, Dylan McCoy, Damien Deveraux, Colm Keane, Sean Rynne, Colman Kelly, Mark Warren, Caimin O’Looney, Paul Keane, Jack Lyons, Shane O’Keefe, Robert Dowling, James Cullinan, Conor Morrissey, Jack Kelly, Mark Callinan.
Referee: Jim Hickey.