Seasiders finish strong to clinch minor final win!

posted 24 Nov 2013, 03:43 by Unknown user



Minor A Shield Hurling Final, Saturday 23rd November 2013.

What a final this turned out to be. Both Kinvara and Meelick-Eyrecourt players can take a bow for playing an exciting and thrilling final, that was really only sealed in the last puck of the match.
Played in splendid Kenny Park, this final was played to a very high standard and was played in a very sporting and yet fully committed manner.
Early this year both sides probably contemplated the merits of staying in the B grade or trying their lot in the A Championship. Well I think after this Shield Final both sides can be happy that they are well up to the standard and that this quality of hurling and opposition can only help to develop and bring on their players.
Kinvara have previously lifted a County Minor B Championship title in 1991, but this was the first time to win a final in A. This win should hopefully set them up for next year and take a serious crack at the Minor A Championship.

The first attempt at score of the day went to Meelick-Eyrecourt, but their wide was followed up in the second minute by a Ronan Kilkelly point from play for Kinvara. Full forward Conor Whelan shortly added his first from play a minute later, before Meelick-Eyrecourt registered their opener from a free on the 6th minute. Kinvara stetched their lead through an Ollie Nilan free, and then Conor Whelan stole in for a smashing strike and a green flag on the 14th minute. Kinvara now led 1-3 to 0-1, but Meelick responded with their second free, only to be cancelled out by a second free from the stick of Ollie Nilan. 1-4 to 0-2. Meelick began to settle more into the game and raised the next white flags with two more frees. Kinvara’s last score of the first half came next through Conor Whelan, but Meelick’s decision to play a sweeper in front of the Kinvara full forward meant the supply going in was harder to win. On the stroke of halftime Meelick struck for their first point from play, to leave only the goal between them at the break. During that first half, Meelick had a goal rightly disallowed for square ball, but one felt that although Kinvara were worth their three point lead, that they could and should have been more ahead.
Half-time: Kinvara 1-5, Meelick-Eyrecourt 0-5.

The second half opened up with Meelick heading straight on the attack. They scored a pointed free in the opening minute, and piled full pressure on the Kinvara defence in those first five minutes. Our rearguard stood firm and withstood the attacks, to leave just two points between them. Then came Kinvara’s time, and in the next 8 minutes they played like men possessed. Attack after attack, they gave Meelick no break and this period resulted in 6 unanswered points from Kinvara sticks – two Ollie Nilan frees, two Conor Whelan’s from play, and one each from Gary Kilkellly and James O’ Hara. On top of that, Conor Whelan almost struck for a goal but his shot rebounded out off the post. With 15 minutes remaining, Kinvara lead by eight….1-11 to 0-6.
But such is the spirit in Meelick-Eyrecourt that they fought their way back into this match. This time, the next 8 minutes belonged to them, as they again reduced the deficit to 2 points. First they got a point from play, another from a free, and then their ninth white flag to leave just five between them with 10 minutes left (1-11 to 0-9). Their big score came on the 22nd minute, when they got a well worked goal. Although Kinvara goalie Liam Byrne made a superb point blank save, there was a Meelick forward on hand to crash the ball to the back of the net. 
This was to be a huge moment in this riveting game. On top of the momentum firmly in Meelick’s hand, Kinvara also had to tend to a serious head injury to the influential Shane Byrne. Kinvara’s 8 pont lead had slipped to two points, and with the Meelick supporters now in full voice and urging their team to continue and finish it, this match looked like it could slip from Kinvara.
But that green flag also signalled something in the Kinvara lads, and for the second time this year in a final in Kenny Park they dug deep and finished this match with real character.
Up the field Kinvara went and a difficult Ronan Kilkelly free steadied the ship on the 25th minute. 60 seconds later and he was called on again, and again from distance, he fired over another point to put the margin to four points (1-13 to 1-9). Kinvara were determined not to let this one go. With a minute to go it was Conor Whelan’s turn to shoot over his fifth from play. And the same man capped off a fine attacking display when he gained possession, turned his man, slipped another marker and rifled home to rattle the net. Game over!
There was great scenes as the referee blew the final whistle as Kinvara players and supporters celebrated.

So what about this Kinvara team? To a man, they played with heart and passion, and everyone can be proud of them.  Goalie Liam Byrne was faultless and showed good composure for the youngest lad on the team at only 15. The full back line were tremendous. Corner backs Alan Keane and Stephen Bermingham were meanness personified, while Tadgh Reynolds anchored the line with maturity. Our half back line was again on top. Centre back Shane Byrne cleared some great and intelligent ball, while on the wings, Sean Linnane and James Cronin-Rodger had their usual dashing and tough display. Our backs only actually conceded 1-3 from play – which is a credit as they were up against what was a very good Meelick forward sextet.  
At midfield, the engine house of James O’Hara and Ronan Kilkelly had both massive games. They also contributed 4 points to the cause, and worked tirelessly for the full hour.
At half-forward, Nessan O’Hanrahan hurled his part, and won some great ball. On either side of him, both Gary Kilkelly and Dara Flaherty did a mountain of work, and not only set up scores, but put immense pressure on the Meelick clearances. In the inside line, Mark Bermingham was unfortunate to have a hand injury heading in to this final. However, he played his part, and gave it what he could for his duration. Ollie Nilan in the other corner was again dangerous, and was cool under pressure for his four pointed frees. At full forward, Conor Whelan finished with a score of 2-5, all from play. It was a pleasure to watch him in full flow, on this important day for him.
All three subs that came on added to the cause. Joey Tully, Tommie Kavanagh and John Donoghue continued the effort and were actually unlucky not to have each scored a goal.
Special mention also to the other subs on the day. Although they didn’t get their run out, they all contributed during the year in other matches and all worked hard during the year.
Well done also to the management of Derek Smith, Pat Conole, David Huban, Anthony Byrne and Martin Sullivan. They had belief in this bunch of lads, and worked the line brilliantly during the match. It has been a long year but worth it!
Many thanks also to club sponsor Mike Burke of Pier Head. It was great to see him next to a Kinvara captain for a change for a Minor Hurling presentation.
One other note, is that of the 15 players that finished this match so strongly, an incredible 12 of them are underage again next year. Looking forward to it already!

Finally, hard luck to Meelick-Eyrecourt for their part in this thrilling contest. They played with great heart and passion, and their parish can be proud of their boys.

Liam Byrne, Alan Keane, Tadhg Reynolds, Stephen Bermingham, Sean Linnane, Shane Byrne, James Cronin-Rodger, Ronan Kilkelly 0-3 (0-2f), James O’Hara 0-1, Gary Kilkelly 0-1, Nessan O’Hanrahan, Dara Flaherty, Mark Bermingham, Conor Whelan 2-5, Ollie Nilan 0-4f.
Joey Tully for M. Bermingham (injured), John Donoghue for D. Flaherty, Tommie Kavanagh for J. Tully, Owen Whelan, Dara Whelan, Patrick Whelan, Keelin O’Rourke, Patrick Gallagher, Conor O’Shea.

Stephen Goherty, Shane Burns, Sean Neylon, Enda Scully, James Burke, Joseph Madden, Owen Downey, Conor Treacy, Eamonn Larkin, James Downey, Luke Cheeseman, John Conroy, Gary Connaughton, Stephen Treacy, Kevin Larkin, Conor Dolan, Lee McDermott, Paul O’Brien, Jason Leonard.