Brilliant Butler fires Valleys to hurling title
Valley Rovers 0-14
JOE KENNEFICK REPORTS
HAVING won the title for the first time in 28 years last season, Valley Rovers wasted little time in making it two-in-a-row when they proved too strong for Tracton in the final of the Good Fish Co. South East junior A hurling championship.
Played last Friday night week in Ballygarvan, Valley Rovers were quick out of the blocks and, having played with a stiff breeze, led by 0-9 to 0-3 at the interval, as Tracton struggled to impose themselves on the game.
Valleys continued to set the pace in the second half, and leading 0-14 to 0-7 after 57 minutes, they looked home and dry. However, Tracton finally found a bit of form, and a goal and a point reduced the deficit to three points, but they ran out of time, and Valleys held on to claim their ninth title.
‘It’s great. We hadn’t won it for 28 years until last year, and to do two in a row now is great,’ said man-of-the-match, Valley Rovers midfielder Ritchie Butler
‘This is great for the younger players. We have a nice batch of players there from 18 years upwards, and we’re winning and playing competitive matches, which you can’t beat.’
Valley Rovers selector Ciarán O’Riordan was delighted his side retained their title.
‘It’s absolutely brilliant to win the south-east title for the second year in a row. It’s something we haven’t done for a long time and it’s a great achievement for the club,’ O’Riordan said.
‘It was squeaky bum time at the end when that goal went in and there was only three points in it. They could have got another goal very easily in the end and drawn the game, and we were delighted to hear the final whistle in the end.’
Key to Valley Rovers’ win was their excellent start, which saw them leading 0-6 to 0-1 after 16 minutes, as Tracton looked nervous. However, even though they improved in the second half, they gave themselves too much to do.
Ritchie Butler was the star man here for Valleys, hitting nine points and dominating the middle of the park, while Gary Jones, who made one outstanding save, Darragh Crowley, Rory O’Sullivan and Derek Canty were all impressive.
Tracton had big performances from Eoin Kingston, Joe Lynch, and Conor Harrington, while Edser O’Callaghan was a big danger in front of goal.
Playing with the wind, Valleys had points from Crowley, O’Sullivan and Butler (2) before Tracton had their opening score from David Griffin in the seventh minute. Butler added two more points and Tracton looked in danger of being blown away.
O’Callaghan should have goaled in the 15th minute when through on goal, but Jones made a magnificent save to deny the big forward.
Griffin and O’Callaghan both pointed as Tracton improved, but Valleys were on top and points from Butler and Dan Sweetnam left Valley Rovers 0-9 to 0-3 in front at half-time.
Tracton returned a much better team for the second half, and they enjoyed most of the possession, but they struggled to make it count on the score board.
Frank Lynch reduced the deficit for Tracton, but points from O’Sullivan, Canty and Butler left Valleys leading 0-12 to 0-4 after 43 minutes.
Tracton reduced the deficit with points from Griffin, Jason Nunan and Harrington, but when Butler added two more scores, they led 0-14 to 0-7 after 57 minutes and it looked game over.
Tracton finished strong through. O’Callaghan goaled when he got a delightful flick to a David Walsh delivery, before Griffin reduced it to three points. However, time ran out and Valley Rovers were deserving winners.
On the up-coming county championship series, selector Ciarán O’Riordan was under no illusions about the task that faced them.
‘We have no airs and graces about ourselves at all. We’ll give it a lash. We’ll be mad underdogs there, but we’ll have a go at it and see how we go,’ he said, with Valleys to meet Russell Rovers.
Valley Rovers: R Butler 0-9 (7f, 1 65), R O’Sullivan 0-2, D Crowley, D Sweetnam, D Canty 0-1 each.
Tracton: E O’Callaghan 1-1, D Griffin 0-4f, F Lynch, J Nunan (f), C Harrington 0-1 each.
Valley Rovers: G Jones; S O’Leary, J Burke, D Lynch; D Crowley, M O’Brien, A Sheehan; A Walsh, R Butler; D Canty, R O’Sullivan, B Hawkes; A Settini, G Deane, D Sweetnam.
Subs: T Fitzgerald for G Deane (37), T McKeown for S O’Leary (60), P Hurley for A Settini (61).
Tracton: D O’Neill; E Kingston, F Kingston, J Lynch; S Nunan, G Kingston, C Harrington; D Walsh, C Ross; P Mullane, E O’Callaghan, D Griffin; C Kiely, F Lynch, J Nunan.
Subs: J Harrington for P Mullane (ht), I Cooney for S Nunan (40), D Clifford for C Kiely (46).
Referee: Tony O’Brien (Ballygarvan).