North u21 A Final – O’Loughlin Gaels V Glenmore
Nowlan Park, 2pm . Sunday December 13th 2015
U21s ARE COUNTY CHAMPIONS
O’Loughlin Gaels 2-13 to 2-09 Glenmore
O’Loughlin Gaels claimed the u21 Hurling Championship Title for the first time since 1981 and for only the third time in its’ history with a dramatic win over Glenmore on Sunday in Nowlan Park. Heavy downpours in the days leading up to the fixture made for very soft underfoot conditions but both teams weren’t shy about cutting up the hallowed turf. Hard exchanges and determined commitment from both sets of players made for a very entertaining December encounter.
The Gaels started off well registering a goal in the 3rd minute. Good work by Shane Mahony put Shane Parsons one on one with Glenmore’s keeper and he coolly flicked it over the head of the onrushing number one. It was looking like O’Loughlin’s day when Shane Mahony added a point almost immediately and Seanie Bolger converted a ’65 to bring the advantage to five points on six minutes after a period of sustained pressure. The Loughs were well on top at this stage and but for well a worked point from corner forward Eoin Aylward on the tenth minute Glenmore might have folded early as for the next six minutes the Gaels had five shots at the posts converting two more (Shane Mahony & David Burke). Six points ahead just after mid-way through the first half and the St. John’s side support were feeling good. Then Glenmore got a couple of good moves going ..their confidence was rising as their half back line began to take control creating the platform for their forwards to stage an attack. Goal number one came on eighteen minutes when Shane Murphy finished a good move and within four minutes Glenmore had neutralised the Gael’s lead completely, after full forward Liam Hennessy latched on to the end of a move that saw the net rattle for a second time. O’Loughlins had done all the hurling but there was no advantage showing.
It was a time for leaders – Paddy Deegan was one of those leaders as he broadened his shoulders and got to work. Those flanking him dug in - Jack Lawlor and Gary Bryan completing a powerful half back force - that sent a strong message of intent to the rest of the team. Shane Mahony was working hard and was hauled down for a free that Seanie Bolger duly converted. Then Gary Bryan launched a missile that soared between the posts to give a two point advantage back to the Gaels. It looked like normal business was resumed but Glenmore’s best player Alan Murphy was like a dog with a bone reducing the lead again with a fine point from play before winning a free that was converted to see the sides all square at the interval. A chance for a breather then as the large crowd hummed a tone that tried to decipher all that happened during an enthralling first thirty minutes.
Half time score: O’Loughlin Gaels 1-9 to 2-3 Glenmore.
The second half got underway with the Gaels playing towards the country end. No big breeze to account for so no advantage there. It was all to play for. Both teams exchanged wides before Daniel O’Connor started proceedings with a point from play. Seanie Bolger quickly added another from a free before Glenmore’s Alan Murphy returned one to bring it back to the minimum again. Ross Butler was finding his form and after a good semi-final performance marked this final with his first of two fine scores. More sustained pressure gave Bolger another opportunity to convert a free and then Butler added his second bringing them four points to the good once again. Glenmore’s Alan Murphy returned another minor score before substitute Ben Leydon reinstated the advantage to four and Sean Bolger made it five with a pointed free.
O’Loughlins were retaking control and Glenmore were having to tough it out. The exchanges were hard and with O’Loughlin’s half back line dictating proceedings the frustrations and tensions got the better of players and an off the ball incident caused a minor fracas. A number of players got involved but two were left on the ground when the situation was quickly diffused. Referee Eamonn Mansfield decided on a red card each and both teams were reduced to fourteen men for the remaining 12 minutes..most notably for O’Loughlins, Jack Lawlor, who was having a blinder all day.
For the next ten minutes it was all hands on deck..legs were tired as this energy sapping encounter drew to a close. It was Glenmore’s Alan Murphy who seemed to have the legs for it now and he was responsible for the next four points (3 frees) leaving the game on a knife’s edge going into injury time. Everyone was on their feet and O’Loughlin supporters were wondering was this going to be another bitter pill to swallow. Glenmore had two opportunities to lob the ball towards goal but Huw Lawlor and goal keeper Gary Kelly were assured all day. The ball cleared, it was moved to attack and a moment of brilliance from Sean Bolger saw the sliotar rattle the Glenmore net on thirty two minutes to a huge relieving roar from the top left corner of Ardán Breathnach. The final whistle sounded and the weariness in the legs was quickly taking over with leaps of joy and smiling faces.
This was a determined performance from a team that built well throughout the whole campaign. Players had felt the pain of defeat earlier in the season and were determined not to feel that pain again. Huge effort was put in by all the players and a massive credit must be afforded to the management team led by Pat O’Grady and including, Brian Dowling, Brian Hogan, Paul Cleere and Mark Bergin. Well done and congratulations to everybody on capping a great year for O’Loughlin Gaels.
Team. Gary Kelly, Jay Leahy, Thomas Gleeson, Huw Lawlor, Jack Lawlor, Gary Bryan (0-1), Paddy Deegan, David Burke (Capt., 0-1), Ross Butler (0-2), Daniel O’Connor (0-1), Shane Mahony (0-2), Sean Bolger (1-5, (5f)), Robbie Buckley, Shane Parsons (1-0), Cian Loy. Ben Leydon, Daniel Bolger, Paul Denieffe, Pat Byrne, James Lenihan, Daniel O’Driscoll, Vincent Wallace, Lyndon Brannigan, Eoin Croughan, Brian Buckley, Tervince Wallace, Shane Maher.
Manager: Pat O'Grady. Selectors: Brian Dowling, Brian Hogan, Paul Cleere, Mark Bergin