Golden-Kilfeacle’s bid for glory in the county under 21 hurling final was scuppered by a goal five minutes from time by Paul Shanahan to give Upperchurch-Drombane a 1-17 to 0-15 victory in a rousing county under 21 B hurling final at The Ragg on Saturday last in which Golden could well feel aggrieved at being five points adrift at the final whistle.
The Mid champions, who last won this title in 2007, were deserving winners but Golden-Kilfeacle were not five points an inferior side, and for most of the game traded scores with their rivals in a fashion that greatly entertained the fine gathering.
Indeed, after Paul Shanahan’s deflection of Padraig Greene’s long range-free had put Upperchurch four points clear with five minutes-plus to play, Golden had a goal chance of their own in the 58th minute when Christopher Ryan was fouled, but Joshua Keane’s rasper for a rallying goal was stopped, and one felt then, that it was going to be Upperchurch’s day.
Golden-Kilfeacle have triumphed in the A section but never won the B title, and they looked full of purpose in the opening half as, aided by the breeze, they set the pace, with Joshua Keane and Ger Barlow the main threat in attack. At this stage, Upperchurch were relying very much on Paul Ryan’s accuracy from frees to keep them on the heels of their rivals, who were 0-4 to 0-2 ahead after 11 minutes, thanks to Keane(3) and James O’Connell points to which Paul Ryan and Ciaran Shortt replied.
It was difficult to gauge the value of the breeze to Golden who had further points from Keane and Barlow to regain the two point lead they lost to levellers from Paul Ryan as the game entered its second quarter. Liam Nagle now showed his quality for Golden with two points and had a goal-bound effort stopped by Diarmuid Grant in the Upperchurch goal, as the West champions went three points clear after 20 minutes.
Typical of an absorbing contest, Upperchurch came back at them. Padraig Greene, now deployed at full-forward, showed his influence with points in the 21st and 22nd minutes and though Tomas Burns had a 24th minue point for Golden, Greene was again on target three minutes later to cut Golden’s advantage to the minimum. On the break, Joshua Keane doubled it from a free to leave them 0-10 to 0-8 ahead at the interval.
It was very much anybody’s game but with the breeze to aid them in the second half, Upperchurch had solid grounds for optimism. Golden, on the other hand, were playing confidently, had no obvious weaknesses in their side, and no reason to doubt their ability to forge the pace again after the break.
After fourteen minutes of the second half, the sides were level. Paul Ryan pointed an early free for Upperchurch, but Joshua Keane and Liam Nagle responded for Golden. Then Ailbe O’Donoghue, Paul Ryan and sub James Murray, who was making a very significant impact, pointed for Upperchurh to draw level, and to round off a great spell for them Paul Shanahan put them ahead in the 45th minute.
Now questions were being asked of Golden-Kilfeacle and they met the challenge head-on. Joshua Keane, their most impressive forward, levelled from a free in the 46th minute and though James Murray and Paul Ryan, off a pass from Murray, nudged Upperchurch ahead again, Keane once more split the pots to maintain the Golden challenge.
With the game entering its final ten minutes, it was clear that a goal for either side would be decisive. Padraig Greene, from Murray, opened a two points lead for the Mid champions, but James O’Connell, now operating in the full forward line for Golden, had a 53rd minute point to keep the game in the melting pot.
Then came the all-important goal. Padraig Green hit a free from inside his own half and as the ball dropped into the Golden goal area, Paul Shanahan got a touch to it to steer it to the net for a four points lead for “The Church” with five minutes to play.
The ball was very much in Upperchurch’s court now but Golden were not giving up and when Christopher Ryan was fouled in a determined run for goal, Joshua Keane’s only option from the 20 meter free with two minutes remaining, was to go for goal. He hit his shot well but the Upperchurch defence held firm and cleared their lines and in an upfield surge, Ciaran Shortt put the icing on the cake for them with a sweet long-range point.
Not surprisingly there was delight in the Upperchurch-Drombane camp at the conclusion. Having suffered as much, if not more than most, the ravages of emigration, the club needed a boost, and couldn’t have gotten better than this. It was an accolade richly deserved by a fine bunch of players and their management, who worked hard all year to reach their goal.
While Paul Ryan and Padraig Greene were the leaders in the side, the contributions of Paul Shanahan, John Ryan(J), Sean Harty and Ailbe O’Donoghue were also immense throughout the campaign, while on Saturday last, Ger Fogarty(after a slow start), Seamus Armstrong, and sub James Murray also had key roles.
Golden-Kilfeacle deserved more for their efforts than a five point defeat, but they will take consolation from the fact that twelve of their excellent side are eligible again next year. Had they got a goal any stage, it is they who could be celebrating but no blame could be attached to such as Joshua Keane, Liam Nagle, Ger Barlow, Aidan O’Connell, Stephen Ryan, James O’Connell, Sean Hayes and Alan Wade who gave it everything. At the end of a good year, a West title is no bad return, and there is every reason for optimism in 2013.
Upperchurch-Drombane- Diarmuid Grant; Ger Fogarty, Sean Harty, Eugene Bourke; Ger Grant, John Ryan(J), David Bourke; Seamus Armstrong, Ailbe O Donoghue (0-1); Padraig Greene(0-4, 1f), Paul Shanahan(1-1), Ciaran Shortt(0-2); Sam Bourke, Paul Ryan(0-7, 4fs), P J Bourke; Subs- James Murray(0-2) for S Bourke; Padraig Shortt for P J Bourke;
Golden-Kilfeacle – Christopher Ryan; Matthew Ryan, Kevin Moloney, AlanWade; Shane O Connell, Aidan O Connell, Stephen Ryan; James O Connell(0-2), Sean Hayes; Joshua Keane(0-8,6fs), Christopher Ryan, Sean Ryan(S); Liam Nagle(0-3), Tomas Burns(0-1), Ger Barlow(0-1);
Ref – John Cleary.