What a thrilling finale we had to Sunday’s junior hurling championship final! In a game of the highest quality, Lisdowney, whose focus has been on this one game since the beginning of the year, deservedly won the title.
Maybe a draw would have been a fairer result, but with defeat staring them in the face, particularly when Bennettsbridge took a one point lead with time almost up, the new champions showed real mettle to dig out a victory.
The result was heartbreaking for Bennettsbridge. They had staged a remarkable second half fight-back. For 25 minutes they controlled the game and despite numerous switches and substitutions Lisdowney struggled.
Games are often decided on tight decisions and the winners got a break when awarded a free under the old stand. Rory Hickey pointed and it suddenly stopped the ’Bridge momentum.
Although Sean Morrissey immediately levelled for Bennettsbridge, Rory Hickey showed all his experience to score a priceless point with a minute remaining. It was a score to grace any county final.
Learn from it
The play from Bennetsbridge got very disjointed in the closing five minutes with aimless striking into the attack. They are a young side and they will learn from the experience, even if they had to taste defeat for the second year in-a-row.
Lisdowney are a more battle-hardened side. It showed in their ability to stay focused in the face of a brilliant ’Bridge recovery. The team is well equipped to tackle the intermediate grade next year.
The intermediate hurling final between the Rower Inistioge and Emeralds (Urlingford) had an enthralling closing 10 minutes but overall the game did not provide the same level of excitement as the junior match.
The Rower was the better side but they could never pull away from an Emeralds team that simply refused to give in and kept battling to the finish. Just like Bennettsbridge, the Emeralds took the lead in the 55th minute but were eventually overtaken by the Rower who found that little bit of extra momentum at the right time.
The losers displayed huge character to get back into the game on a number of occasions when it looked like the Rower were beginning to open a healthy margin. The closing stages were hugely exciting as the lead changed hands, but over the 60 minutes the Rower was marginally the better side.
’Shock the favourites
Clara may be the form senior side in Kilkenny, but it is Carrickshock who will bear the favourites tag in Sunday’s senior hurling final.
The ’Shock have promised a lot over the past few years but too many days for their supporters have ended in bitter disappointment. Clara enters the final after a long and rewarding run that has seen the club annex numerous titles. Their momentum will not be easily stopped but they will face a side whose form this year has been excellent.
Both teams scored good win in the semi-finals. Clara was never going to find it easy against neighbours St Martin’s and a three point victory was a fair reflection of their overall superiority.
Carrickshock’s ability to score goals was very evident in their semi-final against Ballyhale Shamrocks. Clara no doubt will be well aware of this aspect of their opponents game.
Either team is capable of winning the Tom Walsh Cup, but after many disappointments over recent years the time may have finally arrived for Carrickshock to reclaim a title they won on seven previous occasions, the last of those in 1951.