Seamus Kennedy who starred for his St. Mary's with 10 points in their win over Carrick Davins at Kilsheelan.
Martin's Fruit & Veg South Tipperary Intermediate Hurling Championship Final
ST MARY’S (Clonmel) 0-23 :: 0-11 CARRICK DAVINS
In a repeat of last year’s South Tipperary Intermediate Hurling Final between St. Mary’s and Carrick Davins, this time the Clonmel side comprehensively overturned the result to win by twelve points at Kilsheelan on Sunday afternoon.
Twelve months ago in the decider at Fethard, the Davins struck with a late goal for victory, but on this occasion the game was comfortably in the control of St. Mary’s for the most part and they were full value for their victory well before the final whistle sounded.
In the main St. Mary’s can thank a superb performance from Seamus Kennedy, who started at wing-forward. The senior county player scored ten points over the hour, including an exhibition of long range frees from from all angles, four of which he comfortably slotted over the bar, to add to his half-dozen points from open play.
But it was far from a one-man show by a dominant Clonmel team, who were clearly the classier outfit, and with a rock-solid defence led by Ross Peters at centre-back and an attack spearheaded by former county minor captain Gavin Ryan, they are nicely set up now for a challenge for further honours in the county later in the year.
St. Mary’s started the more dominant but five wides inside the opening six minutes allowed Carrick Davins to take the lead in the fifth minute with a free from Pa Harris. But the youthful Clonmel side, composed in themselves and their own belief, soon settled and three points on the trot from Jason Lonergan, Seamus Kennedy and Gearóid Buckley had them 0-3 to 0-1 up after the opening 10 minutes of play.
However, by the end of the first quarter, the more economical Davins were back all square after excellent points from Brandon O’Sullivan and Billy Roche (the later coming after being set up by his midfield partner Stephen Cronin).
A quick puck-out was then fielded and pointed in a heartbeat by Seamus Kennedy for the lead again but Davins still hung in with a long range free from their captain Mikey Ryan to level the teams for the second (and as it turned out last) time, 16 minutes into the encounter.
Six unanswered points from Michael Ryan’s team followed in an eight minute spell and with five minutes to go to the break the Clonmel side were suddenly clear at 10-4. In this period of dominance Sean Kennedy tapped over two close-in frees, wing-back Liam Ryan struck a fine effort off his left from 40 metres, while Seamus Kennedy chipped in with three, including a free from inside his own 65 metre line.
Kevin Faulkner, just on the pitch as a temporary blood sub, then won a close-in free for the Davins which Pa Harris tapped over; it was their first point in 10 minutes and would be their last of a disappointing first half for them in which they only raised two white flags from play.
Seamus Kennedy and Sean Kennedy (free) completed the first half scoring to leave the challengers ahead by 0-12 to 0-5 at the break.
In fairness to the defending champions, Davins took the game to St. Mary’s at the start of the second half and outscored their opponents by four points to three in the opening 10 minutes or so, including three fine efforts from Mikey Cronin, a superb point from Mikey Whelan from long range, and a well-worked score by Willie O’Dwyer after good industry shown by Brandon O’Sullivan.
However, the concession of frees was their achilles heel on the day and with freetakers like Sean and Seamus Kennedy on the other side, the Davins paid dearly. Frees from the Kennedys were separated by a huge point from Gavin Ryan in between; Ryan would contribute three great second half points to his side’s tally by game’s end.
The closest Davins came to St. Mary’s in the second half was six points by the 41st minute but thereafter the remainder of the game fizzled out considerably as the fitter and hungrier side relentlessly pushed on to make up for the disappointment of 12 months earlier.
In the final quarter St. Mary’s - last champions in this grade in 2014 - outscored the Davins by 0-8 to 0-2, with Jamie Peters and Sammy Ryan both getting on the scoresheet when raising two white flags on what proved to be a great day for the victors.
The Clonmel side are an improving outfit and the fruits of two county minor successes over the past two years are beginning to see them nicely blossoming into an attractive and well coached hurling side with the experience of manager Michael Ryan guiding them well.
Their defence looked solid throughout and succeeded in limiting the opposition to just six points from play over the hour. Ross Peters seemed everywhere in his role at centre-back, while the inside back line with the Gunne brothers in either corner were good and tight. Elsewhere throughout the field Jamie Peters, Liam Ryan and Jason Lonergan had their moments but one feels that it is with county player Seamus Kennedy that the club has its best prospects of returning to senior status last enjoyed by the Clonmel club way back in 2002.
The Davins, now in their third year at intermediate grade, never rose to the pitch of last year’s final win at Fethard but they tried manfully and kept plugging away even when the game was gone beyond them.
Jamie Houlihan epitomised that spirit, hurling very well early on he had to come off injured for a period and then returned to defensive duties once again. Others to give of their all on the day were Mickey Whelan and Mikey Ryan in defence, the midfield pairing of Billy Roche and Stephen Cronin; while in attack Mikey Cronin and Willie O’Dwyer kept at it till the end. Credit also to goalkeeper Richie McGrath who pulled off a couple of class saves and without whom the deficit might have been even greater at the finish.
St. Mary’s: Shane O’Neill (capt), Richie Gunne, Kyle Peters, Joe Gunne, Liam Ryan (0-1), Ross Peters, Sammy Ryan (0-1), Eric Walsh, Jamie Peters (0-1), Jason Lonergan (0-1), Gavin Ryan (0-3), Seamus Kennedy ( 0-10, 0-4F), Dean Fitzgerald, Gearóid Buckley (0-1), Sean Kennedy (0-5F).
Subs: Darren Cass for Buckley; Michael Murphy for Sean Kennedy; Adam Peters for Fitzgerald; Matt Barlow for Gavin Ryan.
Carrick Davins: Richie McGrath, Jamie Houlihan, Ray Cooke, Eoghan Power, James O’Neill, Mickey Whelan (0-2, 0-1F), Mickey Ryan (capt, 0-1), Billy Roche (0-1), Stephen Cronin, Mickey Cronin (0-1), Gerry Robinson, Willie O’Dwyer (0-2), Brandon O’Sullivan (0-1), Pa Harris (0-3F), Luke Faulkner.
Subs: Mark Roche for Power (inj); Kevin Faulkner for Luke Faulkner.
Referee: Noel Cosgrave (Marlfield).