Minors deliver first title since 1989

Post date: Nov 12, 2012 10:22:37 PM

Magh Cuilinn 0-11 Sarsfields 1-02

After a stirring campaign and a much delayed finale, the class of 2012 delivered the first title of the century with a comprehensive performance. Conditions on the day were excellent although the constant activity in Athenry each week had left the pitch a little bumpy and control difficult.

Sarsfields started with wind advantage but as was a sign of things to come they were unable to break down the Magh Cuilinn half back line. Although Magh Cuilinn had the bulk of possession, the game was scoreless after ten minutes as a result of hurried Magh Cuilinn shooting and an eye catching performance at full back by Sarsfield's Stephen Earls. Andrew Hurney finally produced a score, his shot from the right curling just inside the left hand post. Sarsfields did strike back when after winning possession and bursting forward, Conor Kyne's hand pass was intercepted and parity was restored. Kevin O'Donovan tried his luck from long range too but his cross hit the crossbar but fell to safety. Conor Noone scored Magh Cuilinn's second when he caught a high delivery, stepped away from the defenders' attention to fire over. Conor Kyne was unlucky again when his measured strike toward a colleague was again intercepted by Sarsfields and a score recorded.

Mágh Cuilinn continued to mount pressure with Conor Noone, Ryan Fox and Kevin O'Donovan were all off target before Kevin's long range effort came off the crossbar and was cleared to safety. Sarsfields attacks were rare but one foray in front of goal saw a penalty awarded when the defence seemed to be in control. Go-to-man Earls made the trip upfield to convert and doubts began to creep into the minds of CIMC supporters. Not so the players and Michael Lalor began to win possession in front of Earls. After two efforts were blocked and a new hurley needed. Lalor gained possession again but slipped his marker this time to fire over and blunt Sars' three pointer. There was nothing spared in the challenges and the trainers were on several times. Early in stoppage time Andrew Hurney had his progress halted illegally and Jack Kelly was on hand to open his account. Two minutes later, Conor Noone took a late slap on the hand and Jack was able to bring Mágh Cuilinn back level at halftime; 0-05 to 1-02.

As in the first half, the exchanges early in the half were tight. The half back line of Eanna Malone, Anraoi Whyte and Aodhán Claffey were very much on top. Pádraig Kilduff was making life hard for Sarsfields midfield pair, while his partner Kevin O'Donovan was constantly available. Several minutes though passed before Andrew Hurney forced a foul and Jack Kelly found the target once again. As in the firsthalf, Mágh Cuilinn did spurn a number of opportunities including some shots that fell short to the goalkeeper. Once again Conor Noone, somewhat fortunately drew another foul on right hand sideline. Jack Kelly once again took it on and struck the ball 60m between the posts. Minutes later though, he proved even the best free takers are human when a much closer and more central chance drifted left and wide.

Just as supporters began to relax a little, Anraoi Whyte emerged cleanly from a ruck of players to clear downfield only have the referee call back play. After consultation with the linesman, Padraig Kilduff was shown a red card, and having given his all up and down the field up to that, he cut a disconsolate and probably worried figure as he headed for the sideline. Minutes later, Sarsfields might have been lucky to avoid more severe censure, when Kevin O'Donovan took a nasty blow to the head under a dropping ball. From a challenging position on the left of midfield, Jack Kelly's effort tailed left, struck the post and dropped wide.

Sarsfields did rally and finally began to find a way past the CIMC half back line. Unfortunately for them, they met a resolute full back line. John Lalor was constantly pressurising, hooking and blocking. Conor Kyne was imperious in the air, in particular on one occasion when a failure to catch a difficult ball would have left two forwards clear on goal. He eschewed his first half link up play for a series of barnstorming clearances. If Conor ruled the skies, James Donohue was fighting the ground war, repeatedly coming up with ball and bursting out to clear. The half back line continued to sweep across the field snuffing the momentum of Sarsfields driving forward. In all of this, Eanna Kelleghan in goal was never tested completing one routine clearance. However, it was a forward who eventually broke the siege. Andrew Hurney played groundhog on the Mágh Cuilinn 20m and unlike his full back combatative colleagues chose the elusive route out into space. His long run into opposition territory was cut down probably at more relief to him than Sarsfields and normal J'elly service resumed. Mágh Cuilinn were now three points clear.

Lairgnean McDermott now at midfield was the latest to earn a free and from the same position as earlier frustrated by the post, Kelly confidently notched his sixth point. As Sarsfields pressed forward, Michael Lalor, with a new marker as his old adversary was thrown into attack, was left one and one and when he gained position in front of goal, his new marker opted for the inevitable yellow card and hauled him down. Point number seven for Jack. In the final flourish, Michael again gained position on the left, neatly offloaded to the incoming Kelly, who proved he could score from play too, striking it home from the left sideline. As expected, the referee played an additional five minutes but there were to be no late goals like the semifinal to cause any high tension.

Despite the any claims Kelly might have, the Man of the Match Award fittingly went to the leader of the defence and the Captain, Eanna Malone. who kept Sarsfields shut out for three quarters of the game. As he accepted Mágh Cuilinn's first Minor championship trophy since 1989, we reminded that he collected Intermediate and Connacht medals last year and an All Ireland 11's earlier this year. Now that is a habit worth forming!!!

Magh Cuilinn: Eanna Kelleghan, John Lalor, Conor Kyne, James Donohue, Aodhán Claffey, Eanna Malone, Anraoi Whyte, Padraig Kilduff. Kevin O'Donovan, Lairgnean McDermott, Conor Noone, Jack Kelly, Andrew Hurney, Michael Lalor, Ryan Fox .

Substitutes: Ronan Higgins for Ryan Fox, Michéal Bohan, James Wynn, Cillian Mullarkey, Kurtis Kyne, Fintan Kelly, Paul Wynn, Shane Richardson, Carl McDonagh, Cian Connell, Caleb McGuinness, Anthony Faherty, Mikey McDonagh, Donal McDonagh, Ciaran Barbour, Evan Hurney, Evan Curran, Robbie Kenny, Dylan Curran: