Shamrocks 2-11, Ballymartle 0-11
After a mammoth effort in the drawn game, the young men of the Shamrocks U21 team entered this final replay versus a physically strong but skilful Ballymartle, in a buoyant mood as they felt they left the drawn game behind them. They were determined to put a wrong right and they did so with a great appetite for team work and backed each other whenever the need arose. The first half was much the same as the drawn game as Shamrocks burst out of the blocks with an expedition of flowing football, finishing off moves with some exquisite point taking. Andy O Grady continued his good form from placed balls and further scores were added by the excellent Cillian Hayes, the industrious Daragh Scriven and key marks man Shane Downey to ease Shamrocks into an early lead, 0-5 to 0-1 after 15 mins. Shamrocks then struck for their first major, when the outstanding Dave Andrews ran a great line to collect a soft hand pass from David O Sullivan before rattling the back of the Ballymartle net from all of 20 yards, a goal worthy of any final. To be fair to Ballymartle they showed good resolve to tack on the next two points to leave the score 1-5 to 0-3 coming up to half time. Shamrocks however were not finished the half yet and further scores from Mark Hitchmough who drove forward at will from centre back, Hayes and two from Downey, left Shamrocks with a commanding 1-9 to 0-4 point lead at the short whistle.
In the second half the game stuck to the script as per the drawn match as Ballymartle began with a new lease of energy when playing into the scoring goal at the splendid Ballinhassig pitch. They scored the first 3 points of the half closing the gap to 5 points by the 40th minute, 1-9 to 0-7. Cristoir Corkery, as he has done on numerous occasions, pulled off a save Packie Bonner would have been proud of to prevent a certain Bally goal in the next play, relief all round. This young Shamrocks side sensed the danger and like any good side they learned from the drawn match and began to take the game to Ballymartle for the next 10 mins, a vital turning point. Andy O Grady, now playing at full back (Man marking job on Ballys 6ft 8’’ danger man) broke a great ball down to Dave Barry who worked the ball to Mark Hitchmough at centre back. Hitchmough released a pinpoint pass to Daragh Scriven at centre forward who managed to jink his way to a scoring position and swung it over of his left boot. A vital score at this juncture as it gave Shamrocks the belief that this game was theirs for the taking. 1-10 to 0-7. Ballymartle came forward again and scored the next two points to leave just four between the sides entering the last 10mins. Sensing that they needed a goal Bally threw the kitchen sink at the Shamrocks defence. Shamrocks aided by the hard working Kerry man Matthew Lane and Cillian Hayes along wing backs Coby O Grady and Joseph O Keeffe worked tirelessly to keep the Ballymartle onslaught out. The now full back line of outstanding captain Sean Kidney, the sticky Dave Barry and the versatile Andy O Grady swept up ball at will while distributing to calm head of Mark Hitchmough to work the ball up the pitch for another Shamrocks score 1-11 to 0-8 points. Ballymartle responded with the next 3 points to leave the dangerous one goal lead in Shamrocks favour. As Bally pressed for the equalising goal Shamrocks broke forward to win a free on the half way line. The quick thinking of Daragh Scriven released the probing David O Sullivan who was victorious in his one on one duel with the Bally keeper by expertly dispatching to the net. Relief all round for the players, mentors and the brilliant Shamrocks supporters. 2-11 to 0-11 game over. The referees whistle was greeted with scenes of jubilation for all involved. Sean Kidney accepted the cup on behalf of this brilliant bunch of committed Shamrocks players. It must be said that when you put the work in on the training pitch you will get your reward. Cillian Hayes was presented with the well-deserved man of the match award for his all round game to include splendid point taking and his massive appetite for work. This was a massive effort by all panel members and the future remains bright with all but one of the side eligible for the grade again next year. We now enter the county section at a date to be confirmed. Best wishes to Shane Downey who suffered a fractured fibula in the final minutes. No diubt Shane will come back stronger.
Panel. Cristoir Corkery, Sean Kidney (Capt), David Barry, Joseph O Keeffe, Mark Hitchmough, Coby O Grady, Andrew O Grady, David Andrews, Matthew Lane, Daragh Scriven, Cillian Hayes, David O Sullivan, Shane Downey. Shane Kelleher, Ruairi Meighan, Cathal Murphy, Damien Allen, Brendan Crowley, Daniel O Mahony, Shane Flavin.