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Under 21 County Champions! (match report)

posted 28 Aug 2014, 02:29 by Cian OLionain   [ updated 28 Aug 2014, 02:29 ]
 
 

After the pain of last year’s defeat to Oulart-The Ballagh in the county premier under 21 hurling final the main consolation was that our team was very young and would be able to build on the 2013 achievement of reaching the final. So it came to pass that the St. Martin’s under 21 team found themselves in front of a big crowd in St. Patrick’s Park, Enniscorthy, on Thursday 26 August taking on Rapparees in the 2014 county final.

Playing with the wind in the first half, Martin’s started strongly and in the space of one minute we had a goal disallowed (a square ball), hit an upright and then saw a kicked ball saved by the Rapps goalie. Two frees from Joe Coleman eased us into a 2-point lead but points from Rapps’ Richie Farrell and Kevin Ryan (free) tied the game up. At this juncture Martin’s hit a number of long balls wide and there was concern that this could come back to haunt us, especially when Kevin Foley moved the town team into a 0-3 to 0-2 lead. However, lovely scores by Sean Stafford and Donal Kelly restored the Martins’ advantage and this was added to by two long frees by Jack O’Connor to give the men in maroon a 0-6 to 0-3 advantage. In the middle of all this, Joe Coleman received a yellow card for an illegal pull. As halftime approached, Rapps scored a point from a free to make it 0-6 to 0-4 and there were real concerns during the break that two points, with a stiff wind, was an insufficient lead.

Just as in the first half, Martin’s started the second period strongly and opened the scoring with a sweet point by Philly Waters who was on the end of a hand-pass from Aaron Maddock after a surging 60 metre run. Kevin Ryan and Joe O’Connor exchanged frees to leave it 0-8 to 0-5 and it seemed that a goal would be critical in such a low-scoring game. The large home support was exultant when the goal did come as it fell to them (their number 25) and it tied the game up at 1-5 to 0-8 with 15 minutes to go. However, almost immediately afterwards and just as Rapps began to scent victory, Philly Waters pulled off a fantastic catch and hand-passed to Joe Coleman who buried the sliotar into the Rapps net and we led once more, 1-8 to 1-5. Joe tagged on a point from a free and with 10 minutes left we began to dream of a first-ever premier under 21 title.

At this stage the game was yielding adrenaline hit after hit and when a poorly-executed Rapps’ free somehow led to a loose ball near our square and another goal to no. 25 the game was back in the melting pot, 1-9 to 2-5, the slenderest of leads for us. A Joe Coleman pointed free from the 21 steadied the nerves and Joe O’Connor added another from play to leave the score at 1-11 to 2-5 with five minutes left. Rapps closed the gap to two points before the recently-introduced Mikey Coleman slotted a nice point from the right to restore the 3-point lead. Then, mirabile dictu, in the very next attack by us, the ball broke to Joe O’Connor who slotted a ground shot to the net and we had a 2-12 to 2-6 lead with two minutes left! A Rapps sub, Darragh Pepper, scored a point to reduce the gap, much to the frustration of his selectors who were urging their men to go for goals with just moments left. At this stage, our lads were winning most of the 50:50 balls and the work rate and appetite for hooking, blocking etc were fantastic to behold. More out of frustration than malice, a wild swing on Joe O’Connor led to a straight red card for Rapparees and Joe Coleman applied to the coup de grace by popping over the resultant free. With that, the referee whistled for full time and St. Martin’s were the county premier under 21 champions for the first time ever!

 

Final Score: St. Martin’s 2-13 Rapparees 2-7

 

Under 21 Panel

1          Luke White

2          Donal Kelly

3          Patrick O'Connor

4          Tony Kelly

5          Edward O'Byrne

6          Jack O'Connor

7          Aaron Maddock

8          Leo Burke

9          Joe O'Connor

10        Ryan Murphy

11        Philip Waters

12        Johnny Hamilton

13        Harry O'Connor

14        Sean Stafford

15        Jake Firman

16        Dylan Byrne

17        Eoghan Rackard

18        Joe Coleman

19        Evan Dunbar

20        Jack Whelan

21        Mikey Coleman

22        Darragh Kehoe

23        Eoin Ennis

24        Darren Codd

25        Jamie Carty

26        Stephen Roche

27        David Higgins