James Stephens joint captains Ed McDermott and Noah Manogue with the trophy alongside Bord na nÓg Chairman Willie Dempsey after the Under-15 A final against O’Loughlin Gaels. Pic: Willie Dempsey
An impressive James Stephens eased to a comfortable win over city rivals O’Loughlin Gaels in the Duggan Steel U15A Hurling County Final at the MW Hire Centre, Dunmore on Saturday morning.
The Village boys were strong favourites coming into the game and while it took them a little time to settle, once they edged ahead in the eight minute, they never looked back.
O’Loughlin Gaels put up a commendable challenge, but struggled to cope with the impressive passing game from the winners as the sliothar was regularly transferred from defence to attack accurately and at pace.
O’Loughlin Gaels’ Tadgh Crowley scored the first point of the game with the impressive Jacob Breslin responding for the winners one minute later.
On a beautiful morning for hurling, both teams showed honest endeavour, with James Stephens using their superior physicality to good effect to win possession on many occasions. Ed McDermott pointed the first of many frees for the Village boys and when Greg Kelly pointed for the John’s Park side the teams were level for the second time.
Once Ed McDermott pointed a free and impressive midfielder Ed Lauhoff landed another in the eighth and ninth minute, the momentum swung strongly in favour of the Village boys. The McDermott brothers, Ed and Bill were involved in many of the James Stephens scores, but at the other end of the pitch Eoghan O’Brien was battling hard for O’Loughlin Gaels and was rewarded with a well-taken point on twelve minutes.
The winners led 0-7 to 0-3 at the first water-break, but that four point margin had extended to eight points by the interval. A brilliant individual effort from Daniel Ring saw him run fifty metres to score a superb goal. That was a big blow to O’Loughlin Gaels just on the call of half-time.
While James Stephens again enjoyed the bulk of possession in the second half, tenacious defending from O’Loughlin Gaels, with the central defensive partnership of Jack Johnson and Jeff Tyrell working really hard, made for a more competitive second thirty minutes. A brace of Ed McDermott points at the start of the half extended the winner’s margin, but back came the John’s Park side with a brace of points from Ruarc Sweeney and a Greg Kelly free.
Given the amount of possession which the winners enjoyed, O’Loughlin Gaels goalie Michael Bourke-Lambert had a busy time between the posts. The young custodian had no chance stopping Daniel Ring’s effort late in the first half, but his alertness and quick dashing off his line saved his side on many occasions.
A solid James Stephens defence in which Tuan Hyland, Noah Manogue and James Bergin excelled ensured that O’Loughlin Gaels had to work very hard for every score. The manner in which that trio and their other defensive colleagues attacked every ball with vigour and determination was impressive.
The winners still enjoyed a comfortable nine point lead at the start of the fourth quarter. Ed McDermott, Ed Lauhoff and Conor McEvoy grabbed further points for the winners in the closing stages. O’Loughlin Gaels kept battling to the finish with sub Eoghan O’Callaghan finishing a neat move involving Greg Kelly to the net. It was no more than their brave efforts deserved.
The winners were strong in every sector and justified their favouritism, but credit to O’Loughlin Gaels who bravely battled to the finish. They will have better days in the future, but for sure many of this group of James Stephens players will backbone the club at higher levels in the future.
James Stephens- Ed McDermott (0-10, 0-6 Frees & 0-1 ’65); Jacob Breslin (0-3); Daniel Ryan (1-0); Bill McDermott (0-2); Ed Lauhoff & Conor McEvoy (0-1, each).
O'Loughlin Gaels- Greg Kelly (0-3, 0-2 Frees); Eoghan O’Callaghan (1-0); Tadhg Crowley, Eoghan O’Brien, Daniel McCormack & Ruarc Sweeney (0-1, each).
James Stephens- Billy O’Sullivan; Tuan Hyland; Ruairi Harrison; Conor Heffernan; Noah Manogue; James Bergin; Larry Phelan; Ed Lauhoff; Sean Bergin; Sean Deely; Ed McDermott; Bill McDermott; Daniel Ring; Jacob Breslin; Zak Scanlon.
Subs – Rory Holland; Dara Power & James Long.
O'Loughlin Gaels- Michael Bourke-Lambert; Josh Owens; Jack Johnson; Luke Hanrahan; Luke Quigley; Jeff Tyrell; Conor Murphy; James Holohan; Joe Bolger; Eoghan O’Brien; Greg Kelly; Tadhg Crowley; Cian Byrne; Ruarc Sweeney; Daniel McCormack.
Subs – Eoghan O’Callaghan; CJ McChemcheu & Conor Holohan.
Referee – John Kennedy (Shamrocks Ballyhale).
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