MICHAEL DWYERS held off a strong North Wicklow Gaels
challenge in a bitterly cold and showery Ballinakill to claim the under-15 A
hurling crown last Saturday afternoon.
The trophy will sit nicely alongside their Minor A gong and
complete a memorable year with the small ball for the amalgamated club who are
producing some really impressive players at both levels.
They didn’t have it their own way in this one. North Wicklow
Gaels took their time in getting to grips with this game but when they did,
they brought a strong performance to the table in front of a small crowd
huddled against the elements on an unfortunate day for juvenile hurling finals.
Dwyers looked very impressive early on. Matt Miley took a
pass from Eoin Sheridan to open the scoring before a foul on Jack OToole
allowed OToole his first chance from placed ballls and he took it with aplomb.
By the 16th minute it was 1-3 to 0-0, a second OToole
pointed free and a major from Matt Miley after good work from midfielder James
Boland. Dwyers half-back Conor Manifold had picked up an injury just prior to
the goal and four adults were on the pitch at one stage tending to the stricken
player as the game went on around them.
North Wicklow Gaels sprang to life soon after when Kieran
Ovenden found Michael Shannon who sent a pass to Senan Rogan and the ball was
in the back of the Dwyers net.
This goal proved to be a wakeup call North Wicklow Gaels
needed and free-taker Willie Cash brought the northern group team back to
within a score with two well struck frees while Kieran Ovenden was proving
excellent at the back for Karl Cooke’s side.
North Wicklow Gaels needed a strong finish to the opening
half but it was Dwyers who grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck with Eoin
Sheridan profiting from advantage from referee Eddie Leonard and James Boland
dropping over a beautiful score right on the stroke of half-time to send the
west side in leading by 1-5 to 1-2.
North Wicklow Gaels goose looked well and truly cooked when
Dwyers opened up a 1-8 to 1-2 lead within five minutes of the restart. Scores
from Eoin Sheridan, Austin Brennan (65), and Sam Gough pushing Pat Brennan’s
team well ahead.
But Willie Cash had an amazing day from placed balls despite
the conditions and he stroked over five of the next six points for the Gaels
with Senan Rogan grabbing the other to close within two of the Dwyers again.
But where the Gaels could get close and look to be almost
getting to parity, Dwyers could step it up a gear or two and put some more
daylight between the sides thanks to the strong performances of Austin Brennan,
James Boland and Rian Waters.
Jack OToole pointed a free before substitute Robert Murtagh fired over a peach to give the shivering supporters plenty to cheer about on the sideline with only five to go and the gap back to 1-12 to 1-8.
But back came North Wicklow Gaels who never gave up and
Michael Shannon fired home to the back of Adam Williamson’s goal to give them
huge hope with time almost up.
However, like on so many occasions earlier in this game,
Dwyers were able to step it up once again and they brought the play down the
far side of the field where Luke Frawley was called upon to make a great save
and where Jack OToole would fire wide from a free but it was almost as good as
a score as it wasted time and kept the ball down at the wrong side of the field
for the Gaels.
Time would run out for North Wicklow Gaels. It would have
been wonderful to see these two teams go head to head on a beautiful day on hard ground but when it came to the trenches the Dwyers
had that little bit too much.