Minor Hurling: North Wicklow Gaels delivered a superb performance to thwart a double delight for Bray Emmets on hurling county final day with the ability to score goals the main difference between these two talented teams on what was a superb advertisement for Minor hurling in the county.
Led by joint captains Shane Collins and Bill O’Brien, the North Wicklow Gaels side played with a wonderful abandon and freedom and struck with deadly blows when the chances came their way, while in Luke Frawley they possess a classy goalkeeper who kept the Bray wolves from the door when required.
Having toppled Carnew Emmets and Michael Dwyers in their respective semi-finals, it was always going to the case that this would be a frantic battle and with Gaels having pipped Bray earlier in the championship there would be little separating the sides when referee Ciaran Manley sounded the final whistle on a stunningly beautiful day for hurling in the county grounds.
An early exchange of points got this game off to a decent start. Willie Cash from a free for North Wicklow Gaels and a swift reply from play from the excellent Finn Treacy of Bray. Much of the positive play from the Bray lads came through Treacy who drove hard at the Gaels all through this game.
Bray led after seven minutes through the very impressive Gavin Rochford who might have had a goal but the Gaels struck for the first of their five majors after nine minutes when Joe Prendergast reacted quickest when everyone else thought the ball had gone wide to gather and rifle home past Nathan Prunty in the Bray goal.
Rochford replied smartly for Bray but the Gaels were on fire at this stage and a long Prendergast ball was batted back into play when Willie Cash was on hand to deliver a brutal blow to the young Bray men with barely 15 minutes on the clock.
Again, Rochford kept the Bray scoreboard ticking over with important points and you wondered if North Wicklow Gaels’ failure to raise white flags would come back to haunt them. Little did we know there were three more green ones coming down the tracks.
Luke Frawley produced a superb save just before the first water break but Bray were very much alive and well in this encounter as they kept troubling the scoreboard with points from Art Whittle, Oscar Harty, Rochford (free) and Michael Healy with Cash and Bill O’Brien replying for the Gaels in between to leave the game finely balanced at 2-3 to 0-8 late in the opening half.
But the Gaels would finish the half on a high. Prendergast supplying the long ball to Oisin Shanahan who fed Bill O’Brien who lashed home a stunning shot to the roof of Nathan Prunty’s net to give his side a massive boost going into the half-time break with a 3-3 to 0-8 lead over Bray Emmets.
The Gaels were goal hungry after the restart. Sean Byrne almost bagged a major but his effort trailed wide of the bottom of the Bray post after good work by Bill O’Brien and Oisin Shanahan in a ruck.
And then Bill O’Brien drove a free in from way out the field and it tipped the hurl of a Bray defender and sailed past Nathan Prunty for another horrible blow for the Bray side, with Prunty powerless to stop it.
Bill O’Brien was up for this game from the very start and he drove over an absolute monster from inside his own half down on the bank sideline to make it 4-4 to 0-8 with seven minutes gone in the second half.
Bray kept coming. Oscar Harty fired over a free after a chop on substitute Cian Byrne by Fionn Melia. Byrne was introduced in the first half for Cathal Doran and proved busy throughout.
Bill Roddy’s charges had a golden chance of a goal after 11 minutes that could have dramatically changed the course of this game. Finn Treacy launched a surging run from deep in his own half all the way up the field. The ball was eventually worked to Luan Roddy, now at corner-forward, and he swept it across the face of the goal to Gavin Rochford who swung at it in flight but missed. Had he taken the time to catch who knows, but easy to say it after the event.
Rochford tagged on two sweet points (one free) before Charlie Frawley replied for Gaels and then Rochford added another free to make it 4-5 to 0-12 for the Gaels with 17 minutes gone in the second half.
Bray were coming big time and they got their reward after 28 minutes when Rochford rifled home to the top corner past Frawley to leave just two points between the sides and anything was possible at this stage.
But the fearlessness or youth and the ambition within the Gaels team meant they attacked with gusto. A long ball to substitute Michael Shannon caught the Bray defence out of position and despite the best efforts of Nathan Prunty, Shannon booted the ball to the back of the net for a match-winning goal with 29 minutes gone, 5-5 to 1-12.
Gaels would not be caught from here. A Bill O’Brien point from a 65 and Michael Shannon from play concluded the scoring and the celebrations that took place after Ciaran Manley’s final whistle were a pleasure to witness with three clubs (Éire Óg, Kilcoole and St Patrick’s) hopefully reaping rich rewards from this victory for many years to come.
Credit to Bray Emmets, they made this a memorable county final and they possess some serious talent within their ranks with the likes of Tim Harrington, Finn Treacy, Michael Healy, Art Whittle, Adam Prunty and Gavin Rochford all standing out massively on the big day.
The man of the match was shared by Bill O’Brien and Luke Frawley. Not ideal to share the award but given the impact both men had on this game it only seemed fair that they both be recognised for their efforts.
U14 Camogie: The Wicklow Camogie under-14 ‘B’ final proved to be a very entertaining and exciting game with both sides giving it everything.
Donard settled quickly and scored 2-1 to Eire Og’s 0-1 at half-time.
A re-energised Greystones side returned after the break and shook the Donard side by quickly adding 2-1 to level the match.
Donard replied with a welcome goal followed by another to stem the Greystones advance and ran out winners with five points to spare.
Eire Og Greystones: Ella Andrews, Leah Fallon, Nessa Drumgoole, Alison Finnerty, Maya Maguire, Sarah Hayes, Hazel Roche, Isobel O Sullivan (1-0), Ella Downing, Kate Fennessy, Saidbh Hartley (1-2), Meabh Gurrin (1-2), Orlagh Divilly, Maya Storm, Grace Carey, Aine Walsh, Poppy Mullally, Zara Norton, Emily Farrell, Aoibhean Hartley, Maise Grey, Georgia Cullen, Maria Roche, Caoimhe Davis, Ciara O’Farrell, Sofia McDarby.
Coaches: Brian MacNamara, Suzanne Behan, Olive Farrell, Declan Hartley.