FINDING resolve when it mattered most helped Young Irelands book their place in the quarter-finals of the intermediate hurling championship when they beat Mullinvat by 2-14 to 2-12, writes Trevor Spillane.
The Gowran men weaved some impressive spells together as they edged a tight battle with Mullinavat in Ballyhale on Saturday. D.J. Carey’s side fought hard in the first half to erase a large deficit and then raised their game again in the second half, building a winning advantage in the closing minutes.
Brothers Paul and Sean Kehoe were heavily involved in that final rally. Paul tipped the game his side’s way with two frees in the 52nd and 54th minutes, while Sean raced in to drill a loose sliotar past ‘Vat netminder James Culleton inbetween those points. The goal-scorer added a fine point a few minutes later, fighting for possession along the right touchline and coolly finishing it to push his side six clear and within sight of the finish line (2-14 to 1-11).
It was all so different at the start of the game. Having been pipped to a league Shield final place by St Patrick’s a week earlier, the Gowran men seemed to suffering something of a hurling hangover when they found themselves staring at a seven-point gap.
Opponents Mullinavat had clicked into gear in the early stages, rattling off 1-5 to a single point from their rivals.
Led by Paul Kehoe (two frees), Young Irelands started to whittle down the gap. J.J. Lennon also chipped in with a fine point at the end of a sweeping team move involving Johnny Dunphy and Paul Holden, while Tom Carroll added another as they began to step up through the gears.
Having scaled one challenge, it was a bitter blow for the Vat when Young Irelands set about building another big lead late on.
However, they took it on head first, helped in no small way by O’Dwyer’s thundering injury-time free that screamed its way to the net after sub Darren Kenneally was tripped en route to the posts.
The run startled Mullinavat, who had looked comfortable in the early stages thanks to a run copper-fastened by Mossy Murphy’s 11th minute goal. Thomas Aylward pointed a free from inside his own 65m line, Michael Malone, Mark Mansfield and Ian Duggan all won their territorial duels to land points of their own, while Willie O’Dwyer stuck on a free after Murphy’s goal to stretch the gap to seven points by the 11th minute (1-5 to 0-1).
Their charge stalled
The Vat’s charge seemed to stall after that, but they still managed to keep some daylight between the sides. The gap was pushed back out to four when Culleton’s quick puck-out was worked on by Willie O’Dwyer to Michael Malone, who split the scoreboard end posts in the 29th minute, but by half-time Young Irelands had drawn level.
Although Paul Holden left three between the teams with a 30th minute free, the real damage came in injury-time. Tom Drennan played his part, laying the sliotar on a plate for Dick Carroll to crash home (1-6 to 1-6).
The game took a turn for the worse after the restart for Mullinavat, who were left staring into a challenging deficit. Gowran, who took the lead thanks to Paul Kehoe’s point from an acute angle after 33 minutes (1-8 to 1-7). They built on their newfound advantage, Paul and Sean Kehoe grabbing more points, while Dick Carroll was unlucky to see his searing 38th minute shot flash over the bar at the end of a blistering solo run (1-11 to 1-7).
The challenge was laid at Mullinavat’s feet, but they gamely responded. Willie O’Dwyer popped over a breaking ball from 50 metres and then, after points from Michael Malone and Pauric Gahan, converted the free that drew his side level with nine minutes to play.
Having scaled that challenge, it was a bitter blow for the Vat when Young Irelands set about building another big lead late on. However, they took it on head first, helped in no small way by O’Dwyer’s thundering injury-time free that screamed its way to the net after sub Darren Kenneally was tripped en route to the posts.
Nerves not helped at all
Gowran’s nerves weren’t helped by that, or the point from an O’Dwyer free that followed four minutes into stoppage time. Their strength in defence was tested as Mullinavat piled on the pressure, but they held out.
SCORERS: Young Irelands - Sean Kehoe (1-3); Paul Kehoe (0-6, 0-4 frees); Dick Carroll (1-1); Paul Holden (0-2, 0-1 free); J.J. Lennon, Thomas Carroll (0-1 each). Mullinavat - Willie O’Dwyer (1-4, 1-3 frees); Mossy Murphy (1-0); Michael Malone (0-3); Mark Mansfield (0-2); Thomas Aylward (0-1, free); Ian Duggan, Pauric Gahan (0-1 each).
Young Irelands - M. Carter, N. Walsh, M. Walsh, C. Carroll, J. Dunphy, S. Byrne, E. Byrne, J.J. Lennon, C. Nolan, T. Carroll, S. Kehoe, P. Holden, P. Kehoe, T. Drennan, D. Carroll. Subs: M. Lennon for Nolan, 42 mins; O. Carter for D. Carroll, 50 mins; E. Walsh for S. Byrne, 60 mins; P. Carroll for Lennon, 60 mins.
Mullinavat - J. Culleton, T. Duggan, S. Farrell, J. Fennelly, T. Aylward, W. Burke, S. Aylward, M. Malone, L. Murphy, I. Duggan, W. O’Dwyer, P. Gahan, M. Mansfield, M. Murphy, G. Malone. Subs: D. Butler for M. Murphy, 41 mins; D. Kenneally for L. Murphy, 41 mins; J. Gahan for Mansfield, 45 mins.
Referee - Sean Cleere (O’Loughlin Gaels).