Rousing second half display earns Golden a place in county final

Jeddy Walsh

Jeddy Walsh

County Under 21 ‘B’ Hurling Championship semi-final:

Golden/Kilfeacle 0-15

Skeheenarinky 0-10

GOLDEN/KILFEACLE are through to the County U-21 ‘B’ Hurling Championship final after a rousing second half comeback at Cahir on Sunday last in which they turned a five points first half deficit into a five points winning margin at the end.

For a fixture in mid December in miserable weather and difficult underfoot conditions, credit to both sides for serving up an entertaining and always competitive contest. The pendulum swung one way, then the other, and it was only in the final five minutes that the West Tipperary boys took match-winning control.

Golden centre-forward Christopher Ryan opened the scoring in the third minute with a point before Noel Vaughan had Skeheen’ level almost immediately following good work by John Martin in midfield.

After seven minutes Christopher Ryan, who was very prominent early on, restored Golden’s lead with his second point but John Martin restored parity when blocking an attempted clearance and sending the sliothar high between the uprights.

The South champions were clearly getting on top at this stage and over the next 10 minutes added five points without reply to go 0-7 to 0-2 ahead after 22 minutes, and looking very much the better side at this juncture.

John Martin put Skekeenarinky ahead for the first time with a super point from the centre of the field and this was soon followed by a free from corner-forward Fionnan O’Sullivan.

In a game of few goalscoring opportunities Skeheen’ created a superb chance in the 14th minute when Paul Quinlan, Fionnan O’Sullivan and Noel Vaughan all combined but the final shot went narrowly wide. It would prove a costly miss before the game was over.

Fionnan O’Sullivan was doing well with placed balls and was successful with a ‘45 and a free in quick succession to increase his side’s lead and when Tommy Sweeney stretched it to five points after 22 minutes it was hard to see how Golden/Kilfeacle were going to stop the rot.

Golden full-forward Tomas Burns registered his side’s first score in 18 minutes when he demanded a short pass from Joshua Keane’s ‘45 and obliged with a point. Two minutes later the towering full-forward got on the end of a pass from James O’Connell and pointed again.

Golden wing-back Stephen Ryan then had one of the best scores of the day when winning a dropping ball on his own half-back line and breaking out of defence to slot over an inspirational point from the 45 metre line.

While Golden/Kilfeacle were going in at the break two points in arrears (0-7 to 0-5), it seemed they had somehow taken back the initiative from the South Tipp lads, something that looked unlikely halfway through the opening period.

The momentum gained by Golden towards the conclusion of the first half was to continue and they took complete control in third quarter scoring six unanswered points inside 11 minutes. Joshua Keane was the stand-out player of the second half and contributed six points, three from frees, including the opening score of the second half, a free in the 33rd minute. James O’Connell combined with Christopher Ryan and the latter’s point after a great run had it all square at 0-7 apiece after 36 minutes.

Four points in-a-row in four minutes followed as Joshua Keane began to stamp his authority on proceedings. The wing-forward sent over a lovely long-range point from out on the wing, followed it with a free, and then had another solo effort where he displayed some neat stick work, shipped a heavy tackle and still pointed. Liam Nagle showed quick hands for a nice point for Golden in the 40th minute to break up Keane’s run of scores.

Skeheenarinky introduced Mike Sweeney after 44 minutes and soon afterwards they got going again. Having failed to score in 22 minutes of hurling, John Martin and Tommy Sweeney had points in quick succession and when Noel Vaughan was fouled and Fionnan O’Sullivan pointed the free it was back to the minimum with Golden ahead by 0-11 to 0-10 with 12 minutes to play.

Exchanges were very competitive as everyone gave their all and once or twice referee P.J, Nolan had his work cut out in keeping a lid on the enthusiasm. The underfoot conditions weren’t helping either with the referee having to throw-in on numerous occasions.

Skeheen’ had a chance to level on 53 minutes but the ‘45 went narrowly wide before Joshua Keane stood up and pointed a free from 50 metres out to rally his side on for one final effort.

Aidan O’Connell with a monster of a free from his own 45 yard line stretched the lead to three before Joshua Keane and team captain James O’Connell had late late points to seal the victory for the West champions.

West champions Golden/Kilfeacle now await the winners of the other semi-final with the North final only being played last Sunday.

Joshua Keane was terrific for the winners on Sunday, especially in the second half with half a dozen points. Others particularly prominent were Aidan O’Connell and Stephen Ryan in the half-back line and Sean Hayes in midfield, while Christopher Ryan and Tomas Burns were threatening in attack all day long.

Sunday brought to an end Skeheenarinky’s run in this year’s championship but they can look back on a good campain in the South culminating in victory over Clonmel Og in the final the previous weekend. Against Golden the defence stood up well to constant pressure with John O’Callaghan playing a captain’s part and Bobby Breedy and Rian O’Callaghan also doing well. John Martin was superb at midfield aided by Shane Lynch. In the forwards Tommy Sweeney, Fionnan O’Sullivan and Noel Vaughan kept trying to the very end.

Golden/Kilfeacle: Christopher Ryan, Matthew Ryan, Kevin Moloney, Alan Wade, Shane O’Connell, Aidan O’Connell (0-1), Stephen Ryan (0-1), James O’Connell (Capt) (0-1), Sean Hayes, Joshua Keane (0-6, 0-3F), Christopher Ryan (0-3), Sean Ryan (S), Liam Nagle (0-1), Tomas Burns (0-2), Daniel Currivan.

Sub: Gerard Barlow for Daniel Currivan.

Skeheenarinky: Jason Cahill, Kevin Carey, Bobby Breedy, Rian O’Callaghan, Eoin Morrissey, John O’Callaghan (Capt), Seamus O’Callaghan, Shane Lynch, John Martin (0-3), Niall Barrett, Tommy Sweeney (0-2), Paul Quinlan, Fionnan O’Sullivan (0-4, 0-3F, ‘45), Noel Vaughan (0-1), Danny Barrett.

Sub: Mike Sweeney for Paul Quinlan.

Referee: P.J. Nolan (Killea).