The South U21A showpiece finally took place on December 18th after a protracted championship involving boardroom controversies. St. Mary’s and Killenaule contested a keen decider in Davin Park Carrick-on-Suir.
St. Mary’, despite the absence of four key players due to illness and injury started very well and scored four fluid points from play inside the opening minutes giving them an unexpected cushion.
Killineaule, who struggled to match the town team in the early exchanges then got the bolt they need courtesy of a well worked Tom Stakelum goal which helped kick-start Killenaule and by the 13th minute they had their noses in front at 1-3 to 0-5 – the only time in the whole encounter that they would lead.
In the 10 minutes before half-time, St. Mary’s, powered on by some solid defensive play from Liam Ryan and Ross Peters, regained the initiative to lead by two at the break on a scoreline of 0-9 to 1-4.
Each time the gauntlet was thrown down to the Clonmel side in the second half they responded manfully to the challenge and in the ebb-and-flow nature of the game they held their advantage right to the end – just about.
It was fully deserved victory at the end of an entertaining game of hurling so late in the calendar year, with St. Mary’s just about holding off Killenaule by two points thanks to some heroic defending in the dying minutes, particularly from Ross Peters, when a slip up might have allowed ‘The Robins’ in to steal it.
St. Mary’s victory was a borne out of a fierce tenacity to follow in the Minor teams County final success with many fine performances on the day from the likes of Eric Walsh, Gavin Ryan, Richie Gunne, Matt Barlow and Michael Murphy driving the team on over the winning line.
Willie Barrett’s final blast of the whistle was greeted with great joy, a mini-famine of 28 years without a South under 21 ‘A’ title at last ended and perhaps another step taken by the Clonmel club with ambitions for senior hurling before too long. This latest victory can only help in that regard.
Team: Michael Boland, Joe Gunne, Liam Ryan (Captain), Jamie Ahearne, Jamie McGuire, Ross Peters, Sean Adamson, Gavin Ryan (0-1), Eric Walsh (0-2), Richie Gunne, Conor O’Sullivan (0-2), Michael Murphy (0-2), Matt Barlow (0-2), Kyle Peters (0-1), Sean Kennedy (0-4, 0-3F).
Subs: Adam Peters for Sean Adamson (45 mins).
Team: Jack Hayes, Denis Fogarty, Jack Gleeson, Liam Meagher, Luke Ryan, Killian O’Dwyer, Andrew O’Connell, Paudie Feehan, Martin Fennelly, Dean O’Connor (0-7, 0-5F, 0-2×65), Billy Barrett (0-1), Eoin Barry (0-1), Gus Browne, Tom Stakelum (Captain, 1-0), Eoin Shaw.
Subs: Kevin Lawlor for Andrew O’Connell (half-time); Jason Ryan for Gus Browne (48 mins).
Referee: Willie Barrett (Ardfinnan).