THE SPOILS of victory went to Ballyhale Shamrocks and Barrow Rangers as the curtain came down on another successful Lisdowney Sevens tournament.
After a series of hectic weekends, the young teams beat all-comers to take home the Sweeney Cup and Lisdowney Shield respectively from the long-running under-age hurling competition.
In the main event, the Sweeney Cup final, first half goals from Eoin Cody (2) and Evan Shefflin helped Ballyhale storm into a 3-3 to 0-5 lead by half-time against O’Loughlin Gaels.
The second half started with a Cody free before Adrian Mullins hit 1-1 in quick succession to push the Shamrocks further in front.
O’Loughlin’s weren’t finished yet, however. A Jordan Molloy point was followed by two Eoin Wall goals in three minutes. Further points from Ben Maher, Molloy and Wall meant the gap was steadily closing.
With five minutes to go there were just three points between the sides. Ballyhale found their way again, Eoin Cody scoring another goal and a point to give his side the spoils by 5-7 to 2-10.
A goal helped Barrow Rangers get off to a good start in the Shield final, but Young Irelands responded with two quick points. It was 50-50 for the remainder of the half, Rangers going in 1-4 to 0-5 in front.
The second half was just as tight. There was plenty of good hurling, with both sides using their basic skills well. By full-time they had levelled out at 1-8 apiece. Rangers, however, controlled extra-time, scoring 1-3 to capture the Shield by 2-11 to 1-8 in what was one of the most exciting matches of the tournament.
The finals capped a memorable and exciting tournament. Following the group stage games the competitions stepped up a level at the quarter-final stages. In the Shield Clara got the better of the Harps by 2-3 to 1-5, while Young Irelands (Gowran) rattled 4-7 past a Clogh-Ballacolla side who could only hit back with 2-3.
Laois teams didn’t have the best of days in the Shield. Rathdowney Errils also exited at the quarter-final stage, losing by 9-9 to 2-2 against a Mick Doyle-inspired Barrow Rangers (Paulstown).
Naas made sure Kilkenny didn’t have a monopoly on the Shield, however. They withstood a strong second half challenge from Bennettsbridge, Sean MacDonnacha doing most of the scoring as the Kildare team advanced on a 2-9 to 1-1 scoreline.
In the Shield semi-finals Naas were no match for Barrow Rangers. Led by Michael Doyle the Paulstown team were 2-1 to 0-3 up at half-time. Naas managed to net two goals after the restart but it was too little too late, as Paulstown booked their final berth on a 3-3 to 2-3 scoreline.
The second semi-final, a derby between Clara and Young Irelands (Gowran) was a tough battle. In a low-scoring game Gowran built on their one-point half-time lead (0-4 to 0-3), winning by 0-7 to 0-4.
The Cup quarter-finals had a real derby feel to them, as several local sides faced off in the battle to make the semi-finals.
A Padraic Mullen penalty gave Danesfort the lead against Ballyhale, but Eoin Cody’s goal gave the young Shamrocks hope. They finished the stronger, Adrian Mullins converting penalties to earn the Ballyhale boys a 3-10 to 3-4 win.
Hosts Lisdowney had a competitive game against Dicksboro. Niall Brennan and Ben Tallis showed their scoring skills, notching up five points in the second half to give their side a 1-10 to 3-1 win.
James Stephens and Erin’s Own (Castlecomer) had a close battle. The Village led by 1-1 to 0-2 at the break, but the use of the breeze in the second half saw them pull away to win by 3-7 to 1-2.
The last quarter-final saw O’Loughlin Gaels take on visitors Clarecastle. O’Loughlin’s were very sharp and but for Clarecastle ’keeper, Lee Brack, they would have led by more than 2-5 to 0-5 at the interval. It was all change in the second half - O’Loughlin’s added just three points while Clarecastle rallied to force extra-time.
Fired up, O’Loughlin’s made the perfect start with a quick goal, cancelling out a Clarecastle point. The Kilkenny side added more scores to their tally, going through by 3-10 to 3-6.
The Cup semi-finals saw Ballyhale get the better of Lisdowney by 1-10 to 0-3. In the second game two early goals helped O’Loughlin Gaels take control of their tie against James Stephens, a game they led by 2-2 to 0-3 at half-time. The Village came storming back in the second half. At one stage they looked like taking the lead but O’Loughlin’s had the edge, winning by 4-6 to 2-4.
The Player of the Tournament award went to Eoin Wall (O’Loughlin Gaels).