U11 Hurling Heroes:
Read the report from both our U11 hurling finals.
Game One:On the morning that our senior hurlers played in their second championship semi-final in three years the clubs brigade of 2006 and 2007 hurlers made their own history for the club. Two U11 hurling teams both playing in their respective finals took to the fields in Ballinakill at the same time. They did so without their general, their leader in chief Mark Barry, who had been deployed to Croatia on a diplomatic mission to commemorate the events of 40 years ago in Lorrha. These Eire g-ers, aided by the Generals Lieutenants had to face their counterparts from that granite mining village of yore, Aughrim and the St. Pats club, Wicklow Town
U11 matches are 13 aside, such is the growth in juvenile membership in Eire Og that we were able to have 18 players for the Aughrim match and 17 young men to face Pats. Everyone of these 35 iomna showed Cchulainn like attributes all year and even more so on this final day.
The Aughrim game started with a bang when from the throw-in the sliotar broke to the Aughrim half-forward who Con O Callaghan Like went straight for goal and scored with a class finish. The sliotar was up and down the pitch thereafter, but playing against a strong Ballinakill wind Eire Og found themselves a second goal down after five minutes. undeterred they hurled themselves back into the game levelling matters by half time. All eyes were on the new goal stopper for Eire Og, and Tom Meyler did not disappoint. He lorded the small rectangle and barked out orders like a veteran, his speed and skill were required in the forwards and so his net minding duties were delegated to his twin Sean, who led from the back, his puck-outs finding Eire Og retrievers on the vast majority of occasions. The pressure of defending the goal line was eased considerably indeed by the outstanding defensive work of Daniel Burns, Alec Bartac and Cathal Kirby.
This game had all the spills and thrills normally associate with Roller coast riding as the woodwork on both ends of the pitch saved the day. The crossbar, not to be outdone also prevented a certain goal. James O Dowd, Hugh O Carroll and Eoghan Duddy took the fight to Aughrim as every puck out was contested with do or die vigour. Thomas O Connell put in an outstanding performance littered with long range mega-volt clearances and precision free-taking. Joshua Barry had the unenviable task of marking the Aughrim sharpshooter who was left firing blanks as Joshua blocked, hooked and harried.
Jack Caffrey was Austin Deasy like in midfield fielding high ball, side stepping opponents and delivering ball into his forwards where Evin Donnelly and Charlie Nolan chased every ball and half chance like a pair of springer spaniels left off their leads but Lady Luck must have accompanied Mark Barry to Croatia as shot after shot either hit the side netting or flew agonisingly inches wide. That lady luck was indeed not in smiling form was confirmed when a Piaras Healy shot from the 14 hit the inside of the post and rolled across the goal. Tom Mahony got on the end of a long ball from Thomas O Connell only to be denied by the catlike reflexes of the Aughrim goal minder. Shortly after Seamus Darcy had a skilful flick to the net disallowed for square ball. His mother told him there would be days like this.
Darragh Shanahan now moved to full forward chased down a half blocked Aughrim clearance, took pocession, soloed to within shooting distance and unleashed an unstoppable shot to the back of the net. Unfortunately with lady luck in absence it was not to be our day. Congratulations to a fine Aughrim team who were victorious.
Game Two :On Saturday morning as we gathered in Balinakill to play our final you could feel the determination in the whole squad to bring the trophy home.
The weather conditions were going to be a factor with the morning rain leading to a very slippy surface. Also the very strong wind meant a good start was essential and this was exactly what happened with our forwards tackling and harrying from the front. This meant St Patricks had no time to get into a rhythm.
As we were playing with the wind we started at a great pace and intensity and a very strong showing from our dynamic midfield duo of Paddy Marrinan and Cillian Goff meant plenty of ball was going into the forwards.
The full forward line of Miquel Ramirez, Donagh Mellett and Adam Doherty showed great stick work on the ground to create numerous goal chances.
The first goal came from sterling work from the strong and skilful half forward line of Daragh Keogh and Sean Lehane.
As we were playing with the wind in the first half we knew we had to build up a lead and this was reinforced by the powerful showing from our defence where Oscar Lane and Reuben Palmer were outstanding and did not let anything past.
Also our corner backs Fionn Ryan and Riain O Gorman tackled ferociously and made sure our ever alert goal keeper Dean Balfe had a quiet day at the office. Our full back Ryan Ovenden led the line excellently and delivered excellent ball into the forwards, the second Eire Og goal coming from such a delivery.
At half time we led by 2-2 to no score and knew we were in for a battle royale in the second half and this is where the strength of our squad shone through as the substitutes Liam McGovern, Sam Travers and Nathan added greatly to the performance and ensured St Patricks were not let back into the game easily.
The second half was an excellent half of hurling and was up and down the field with all of the skills of hurling on show. St Patricks showed their fighting spirit and played to the final whistle and will be hard opponents into the future.
As the game entered the last ten minutes we brought on out last 2 subs, Ciaran Duddy and Dean Barry and their energy ensured we got to the final whistle with the win. We managed to keep St Patricks scoreless and the game ended with a 3-3 win for Eire Og.
It was a great way to finish the league and the players are already looking ahead to next year.