U15 A hurling final: Éire Óg Greystones are the ‘A’ Team of under-15 hurling in Wicklow after confirming their status on Wednesday night last week with a four-point victory over Carnew Emmets in the championship final played at Ballinakill.
The teams went into the decider with the boost of a prior victory over each other – Éire Óg having a small-margin win in the group stage of the championship and Carnew reversing the result later on in a Féile joust in Rathdrum.
Last week’s final was something of a mirror image with the Greystones boys ruling the roost completely in the first half with a dominant display only for Carnew to take control on the changeover but coming up short in the scoring department.
In these days when you hear of games making the headlines for all the wrong reasons, credit must go to both these teams for playing hurling as it should be played, competitive all the way and truly sporting from start to finish.
The future of hurling in Greystones looks to be in safe hands with this bunch of under-15 players, every one of them oozing hurling talent. This they manifested to us in a dominant first 30 minutes. There was no weakest link here.
In contrast in that same first half Carnew appeared to be somewhat at odds with their hurleys. No matter how hard they tried, the just could not get into the flow of the game, their shooting was wayward, and it took them until the final minute to get on the scoreboard, a point from a free by corner-forward Fionn Darcy.
Little wonder then that the Greystones boys held a commanding 1-7 to 0-1 lead at the break.
Éire Óg’s regular full-back Cathal Kirby was typical of a fired-up team. He wore the number 16 jersey as he was a doubtful starter because of injury. Nevertheless, he took his place at full-back on the team and hurled a stormer from the get-go. And he had 14 ardent ‘supporters’ by his side.
His corner-back side-kick Cillian Goff was typical, getting in a timely block to thwart the effort of his opponent Fionn Darcy. Midfielders Alec Bartac and Oscar Lane and corner-forward Paddy Marinan worked their magic and ended with Jack Caffrey rifling to the net after four minutes.
This was just typical of the many sweet moves engineered and executed by a rampant Éire Óg Greystones side and which led to points by James O’Dowd, Darragh Shanahan and Joshua Barry. Éire Óg ahead 1-3 to nil at the first water break.
Carnew’s wingback Killian O’Keeffe went on a tear-away solo run into enemy territory but was robbed before he could get his shot away. Carnew were being frustrated at every twist and turn. Fionn Darcy pulled his shot wide of the sticks and Conor Byrne missed from almost in front of the posts.
Joshua Barry, Darragh Shanahan and midfielder Alec Bartac continued to push out the boat further for the Greystones boys, stretching their lead to 1-7 to 0-1 at the break, Carnew’s solitary riposte coming from corner-forward Fionn Darcy.
Carnew used the break to have a really good talk to themselves, the message was to get stuck in and compete. They took the message to heart and dictated play to a large extent on the changeover. But the scores were slow in coming to match their improved performance.
Wingback Killian O’Keeffe stopped Éire Óg in their tracks with a timely intervention while Fionn Darcy posted another wide from a free in a good scoring position. Full-forward Ryan Austin fired in a teasing, testing shot but keeper Sean Myler saved at the expense of a 65. Centre back Ken Cullen only added to the wides count from the placed ball.
Daniel Shanahan stretched the Éire Óg lead with another point. While centre-back Thomas O’Connell batted a testing Carnew attack clear for a 65. This time Ken Cullen hit the spot between the Greystones posts.
Infrequent now were Éire Óg attacks. However, their number 10, Charlie Nolan, tested the fabric of the crossbar with a rocket.
Instead Carnew pitched camp persistently in enemy territory. Still scores were difficult to achieve. Conor Byrne posted just their third score before the second water break, leaving Éire Óg Greystones still comfortably ahead 1-8 to 0-3.
But like constant rain eroding even the toughest rock, Carnew’s continuous attacking began at last to wear down Éire Óg’s resistance.
Carnew’s Ryan Austin was fouled and Fionn Darcy converted the free.
Conor Byrne pointed and then skimmed over the top of the crossbar on 53 minutes. We thought for sure he had hit the back of the net. But in reality, it turned out to be a point instead.
Carnew needed a goal at that juncture as it would have seen them draw level as the game entered the last five minutes. Instead, Éire Óg Greystones were clinging precariously to a two-point advantage – 1-8 to 0-9.
Éire Óg supporters were showing nervous anxiety. They roared support to get their team motoring again. And the Boys responded to the encouragement, closing out the game with points by midfielder Oscar Lane and Joshua Barry to seal a four-point victory.
Pat Dunne, Chairman of Coiste na nÓg, presented the cup of victory to Éire Óg Greystones.
Éire Óg Greystones: Sean Meyler, Cillian Goff, Cathal Kirby, Nathan Collins, Daniel Burns, Thomas O’Connell, Tom Meyler, Alec Bartac (0-2), Oscar Lane (0-1), Charlie Nolan, Darragh Shanahan (0-3), Joshua Barry (0-3), Paddy Marinan, James O’Dowd (0-1), Jack Caffrey (1-0). Sub: Sean Gillespie for J O’Dowd.
U15 boys football season wrap up for the year: Our U15 boys football management team led by Kevin Healy with support from Eoghan Donlon, Ronan Mellet, Ciaran Marrinan and Orla Finn entered two teams this year, with squads in both the U15 A and C competitions. Significantly, this is the first time the club has entered two teams at this grade.
Overall, it was a really successful and enjoyable year with the teams winning two pieces of major silverware, the A Feile and the C championship.
We had an outstanding Feile campaign beating the three top teams, An Tochar, Annacurra and Blessington to raise the New Feile Trophy, the Michael Murphy Memorial cup. The trophy was raised by Daniel Burns, selected captain on the day.
The team are following in the footsteps of some fine Éire Óg, teams who won the Feile in 2006, 2016, 2017,
They also had a brilliant league campaign finishing top of the table to ensure they qualified for the 15A semi-final. In the final, they lost narrowly in front of a huge crowd
The C team finished joint top of C league and won the C championship final where Rian O’Gorman raised the cup.
There were many highlights during the year and many enthralling battles with very competitive and sporting contents in both divisions. Notably, many new players and players who have returned to Gaelic football this year enabled us to field two teams.
A couple of things that stick in the mind were the Feile A final and the U15 C final. One of the matches against An Tochar was covered in the Wicklow People. The quote from the match report summed up perfectly the attitude and skill of the lads through the year.
“The final quarter was the most entertaining period of football you’ll ever see at any age grade. The back and forth battle was enthralling to watch. Eire Og needed goal and that’s what they got “.