Killavullen 5-13, Shamrocks 5-9
Shamrocks came up just short in the County Final on Friday night in Páirc Ui Rinn after an incredible game of hurling. It was unfortunate that their journey came to an end in these circumstances but the lads can be extremely proud of their herculean efforts all year and in particular in the second half of this game when they threw everything at the Killavullen team who were cruising at HT.
Shamrocks never led in this game. After the teams traded some early points to be level at 0-2 to 0-2 apiece after 6 minutes, Killavullen started to get on top and they rattled off 3 points on the trot to open up a 0-5 to 0-2 lead. Their forwards looked dangerous at all times and if one was to pick out a difference between the teams, it was the greater scoring power of the Killavullen forwards – they simply had more of them and in their wing forward Michael Fresh, they had a player who did absolute wreak on Shamrocks in the first half, scoring a hatrick from play by HT despite a number of different markers. He started the goal scoring after 13 minutes but Shamrocks then struck for 2 goals inside a minute; the first from Mattie Field in the 18th minute when he flicked home an Andrew O’Grady free to the net and then a superb Mark Hitchmough goal after he had ran from the 45m line, switched onto his right and buried the sliotar from 10 yards out on the run.
Shamrocks were now level at 2-3 to 1-6 but Killavullen reasserted themselves and drove on until HT, feeding the ever dangerous forwards who responded with a goal in the 21st minute and a few points to open up a pretty sizable lead at HT, 3-9 to 2-4. Shamrocks had a mountain to climb at this stage.
Whatever was said in the dressing room at HT seemed to work the trick for Shamrocks. After the teams shared 4 early points (Shamrocks scores courtesy of Mark Hitchmough and David Andrews), Shamrocks got a bit of momentum going and took over completely from the halfback line on. Again, Shamrocks scored 2 goals in a minute, first from Andrew O’Grady in the 8th minute of the second half with a brilliant strike off his left side 15 yards out and this was followed a minute later by a David Andrews scrambled effort. The cheers from the magnificent Shamrocks support in the stand nearly blew the roof off. Shamrocks were now on top and Killavullen were rocked. Killavullen still led by a solitary point, 3-11 to 4-7 and here came the crucial period of the match. With Shamrocks tails up, they badly needed that equaliser from a psychological point of view but unfortunately they shot 3 consecutive wides from advantegous positions. If even one of these had gone over, who knows what the final outcome would have been.
Killavullen took heart and broke forward and scored a goal again from their half forward (his 4th) and they were up again by 4 points with 14 minutes to go. Shamrocks once again refused to lie down and Mark Hitchmough buried another rocket to the Killavullen net a minute later to bring Shamrocks within a point again. It was just brilliant hurling from both teams at this stage. However, once again, Shamrocks just couldnt reach out and draw level. Killavullen stretched their lead to 3 points, Shamrocks brought it back to 2 courtesy of an O’Grady free, then it went to 3 again and then with the game entering injury time, Shamrocks had it back to a one point game for the 3rd time in the second half. In the 1st of two minutes of injury time, they had a chance to draw level from a difficult free way out on the sideline but it tailed just wide. With most of the Shamrocks players committed to attack, Killavullen won the puckout, fed their centre forward inside and he finished it to Cormac Scriven’s net. Game, set and match to Killavullen. Shamrocks had one more desperate attack but it was cleared and the final whistle went and Killavullen were champions.
The lads were bitterly dissapointed to lose their first hurling match all year at this point. However, they have put in a tremendous effort throughout the year and the simple fact of the matter is that hurling is now in a much better place in the club thanks to this squad and their mentors. Shamrocks hurling is back on the map and the future looks bright irrespective what happened tonight. We congratulate Killavullen on their victory and focus on our positives.
There is so much to look forward to still, even at this stage of the season – the lads are in a hurling league final, the quarter final of the football championship (on Monday night), a minor hurling and football league final and a minor hurling county semi final next weekend. These guys are only getting started – the hurling curve is most definately going up!
A massive thank you to the management team of David Nolan, Dick Andrews, Peter Crowley, Kevin O’Grady, Kieran Lynam, John Twomey (Ringaskiddy), Garrett O’Flynn (physical trainer) and mentor John Jordan. They can be very proud of the effort they have put into this (ongoing!) project.
Finally – the Shamrocks support was magnificent. Practically everybody who is a proud Shamrocks man or woman turned out in force tonight in the stand. And they were loud! The lads gave them plenty to cheer about. It was actually hard for the players to hear sideline instructions at times such was the volume of noise and cheering from the travelling support. While Killavullen had a sizable number there as well, i would guess that Shamrocks outnumbered them, and easily outnumbered the supporters for the B final afterwards. We hope to see them all again for the Minor games!
Panel: Cormac Scriven, Christopher Hayes, Nathan Hayes, Ruairí Meighan, Mark Hitchmough, David Barry, David Andrews (1-2), Cillian Hayes (0-1), Andrew O’Grady (1-4), J. Lynam (0-1), Matthew Field (1-0), Killian Murphy, Shane Flavin, Adam O’Keeffe, Daniel O’Mahony, Criostóir Corkery, Evan Seymour, Cathal Murphy.