O’Loughlin Gaels have a good hurling team at under-14 level this season and they continue to pile up the honours in various competitions.
They added the under-14 Roinn A league title to the Paddy Grace Kilkenny Feile-na-nGael crown already won this year when they beat James Stephens in a final full of skill and superb scores and played at well turned out Bennettsbridge.
The St John’s Park outfit opened the scoring after five minutes. They scored four points through Eoin Neary, Eoin Wall and the superb Ben Maher as they got into their stride quickly. The Village reply was strong. They hit back through towering Robert Butler, who grabbed two long range deliveries with authority before converting them into a goal and a point.
The Village backs were finding life difficult against the flying O’Loughlin’s forwards. Corner forwards, Eoin Wall scored a goal and a point and Ben Maher tapped over a free to put the winneres five ahead heading to the 20th minute.
Ryan Scanlon pointed a free for James Stephens which was followed soon after by another goal from the hard to handle and strong hurling Robert Butler, who was the obvious target man for the Larchfield outfit. He was causing major problems for the O’Loughlin’s defence.
The lively Jamie O’Keeffe threw over two good points for The Village either side of a brace of converted frees from the unerring Ben Maher.
At half time the score was: O’Loughlin Gaels 1-8, James Stephens 2-4.
The second half started as a frantic pace as both side threw everything into attack. Young Butler for The Village pointed after four minutes. The red and greens were not to score again for another 18 minutes, however. It was all O’Loughlin/Gaels in a scoring sense. The forward line cut loose and all the players produced some fantastic hurling.
Full forward Adam Flynn flexed his muscles on 37 minutes and popped over a point at the end of a good run. He scored another 10 minutes later. The ace free taker, Ben Maher, scored three frees (he just didn’t miss) as well as a goal and a point from play.
Hard working midfielder Ronan Buckley was rewarded for his heroic efforts when he scored a long range point on 50 minutes. This was an excellent display of forward play, but nothing was as exciting to watch as the goal and point taken with style by the flying Eoin Wall at corner-forward. He will remember those efforts for a long time.
This blistering 10 minute spell of non-stop action yielded O’Loughlin’s 1-7 and changed the score dramatically to 2-15 to 2-4. With eight minutes remaining it was game up for the opposition.
The main threat for James Stephens from Robert Butler, who scored his third goal to leave The Village with some hope, however faint. The lift afforded by this effort was soon deflated when man of the match Ben Maher crashed home a goal with a minute remaining.
The last score of the game, fittingly, went to Ben Maher, who pointed a long range free to leave O’Loughlin’s good winners, again.
O’Loughlin’s will be delighted with the victory in the league final. James Stephens had beaten them in an earlier league match.
The winners had excellent performers in goalkeeper David McCormack, Shane O’Reilly, John Delaney, Jordan Molloy, Ian Clifford, Ronan Buckley and the entire set of six forwards. James Stephens will look forward to the championship, and, no doubt, they will be a force to be reckoned with. They had great performers in Luke Murphy at full-back, Niall Brassil at centre-back, Jason O’Keeffe and the ever menacing Robert Butler.
O’Loughlin Gaels - David McCormack, Shane O’Reilly, John Delaney, Mikey Butler, Ian Clifford, Jordan Molloy, Luke Hogan,Ronan Buckley, Eoin O’Shea, Eoin Neary, Ryan Poyntz, Dacel Fwamba, Eoin Wall,Adam Flynn, Ben Maher. Subs - Barry Lawlor, Jamie Ryan, Sean Kenny, Patrick Nolan.
James Stephens - Sean Minogue, Mickey Byrne, Luke Murphy, Shane Murphy, Eric Kearney, Niall Brassil, Ross Whelan, Sam Hickey, Jason O Keeffe, Cillian Duffy, Ryan Scanlon, Cian Kenny, Robert Butler, Sean Breathnach.