Clon advance to county after defending their South West U21 A hurling crown
CLONAKILTY’S decision to go the direct route in the second half helped them successfully defend their Clona Milk U21A South West hurling title in atrocious weather conditions in Enniskeane last Saturday evening.
The driving wind and rain across the pitch made life difficult for players, mentors and supporters alike and there certainly was no room for any fancy hurling.
After an even first half, Clon leading by a single point at the break, 0-6 to 0-5, it took a stroke of good fortune to put some daylight between the sides when David Lowney’s lobbing shot from 50 metres three minutes after the restart deceived the defence and ended in the back of the Kilbree net.
That goal, plus pointed frees by Lowney either side of the goal, opened up a six-point gap and Kilbree never looked like bridging the gap.
‘It was a dogfight, conditions were shocking,’ said Clonakilty manager James O’Donovan.
‘We had to change our game at half time. We had been feeding the corners but it wasn’t working in the conditions so in the second half we said we’d play the two lads in front of goal. Straight, direct hurling in the conditions and it worked better.’
This win also helped Clonakilty compensate for their defeat in the county junior hurling championship the previous weekend against Ballyhooly.
‘We’re delighted to get back on the winning trail as it’s not easy to keep going following a serious defeat,’ explained O’Donovan.
‘Last year we only had the U21 trophy and this season we have the junior cup to go with it. We’d have loved to advance in the county junior but it’s a learning curve. The average age of the junior team is only 20.
‘We’ve been hurling since February 21st, bar three weeks for senior football, and that’s a lot of hurling. It showed today and we had 15 players right round the pitch who were all leaders, no depending on a few stars. They never stopped battling, never gave up.
‘We’re playing Castlelyons in the county next, and we’ll have learned from the junior defeat. We also have a junior league final and a junior C championship so we should be hurling well into October. That’s no bad thing.’
Although Eamonn Barrett opened the scoring with a superb point for Kilbree, it was Clonakilty who grabbed control through the determined hurling of Sean McEvoy and Liam O’Donovan at midfield. With Cork hurler David Lowney lining out at full forward but making little impression on sterling full back Liam O’Brien, Clon struggled for scores but hit the front with points from McEvoy, Cian O’Donovan and Lowney (free).
Kilbree were giving as good as they received in most areas, with Damien O’Gorman beginning to stamp his class on the game and points from Joseph O’Donovan and O’Gorman (free) sandwiched another Lowney free, to leave the minimum between the sides starting the second quarter.
Tiarnán O’Connell, beginning to impress on the forty, doubled the Clon advantage but Kilbree then hit a good patch with O’Gorman, Óige Scannell, Jonathan Deasy, Brien Keohane, Shane Scannell and Darren Santry all prominent. Points from O’Gorman and Brian Deasy had the sides level before another Lowney free had Clon in front at the break, 0-6 to 0-5.
Lowney’s move out the field and their change to more direct hurling paid off at the start of the second half for Clon and Lowney rifled over two frees as well as raising the only green flag of the game to put six points between the sides after 35 minutes, a big gap in the trying conditions.
There was little between the sides for the remainder of the game but with Ciarán Crowley, Zack Harrington and David Walsh putting up a solid barrier in front of reliable keeper Mark White, there was little threat of the goal Kilbree needed to spark a revival.
The nearest Kilbree got was five points as Lowney and O’Gorman swapped frees, and O’Conneell, operating very effectively at full forward, stretched the lead to seven as the last quarter dawned with two near-exhausted teams battling it out.
Two frees from O’Gorman had it down to five but with Peter Walsh finishing very strongly at centre back and Shane Collins impressing at wing back, Clon finished the stronger side with points from Lowney (free) and O’Connell.
The U21 cup was presented to winning Clon captain, Eoghan Deasy, by chairman of the junior board, Joe Crowley.
Clonakilty: David Lowney 1-7 (7f), Tiarnán O’Connell 0-3, Sean McEvoy, Cian O’Donovan 0-1 each.
Kilbree: Damien O’Gorman 0-4 (3f), Eamonn Barrett, Joseph O’Donovan, Darren Santry (1f) 0-1 each.
Clonakilty: Mark White; Zack Harrington, Ciarán Crowley, David Walsh; Sean O’Donoghue, Peter Walsh, Shane Collins; Liam O’Donovan, David Lowney; Eoghan Deasy, Tiarnán O’Connell, Cian O’Donovan; Emmett O’Gorman, Sean McEvoy, Duncan Lehane.
Subs: Ross Mannix for D Lehane (37), Eoin O’Neill for E O’Gorman (45), Ryan Miller for T O’Connell (59).
Kilbree: Jamie Santry; Brian Keohane, Liam O’Brien, Barry Kirby; Gearóid McCarthy, Jonathan Deasy, Sean Deasy; Damien O’Gorman, Ógie Scannell; Eamonn Barrett, Shane Scannell, Brian Deasy; Cathal Deasy, Joseph O’Donovan, Darren Santry.
Subs: Jamie O’Donovan for C Daly (45), Cillian O’Driscoll for B Deasy (45), Darren Fraser for E. Barrett (59).
Referee: Michael O’Mahony (Kilbrittain).