Saturday 21 October 2017

Conway and O'Connor seal crown for Kingdom

Kerry 2-12 Wicklow 2-8

Kerry captain Darragh Shanahan and his team-mates celebrate after the Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U-21 hurling ‘B’ final in Thurles on Saturday. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Kerry captain Darragh Shanahan and his team-mates celebrate after the Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U-21 hurling ‘B’ final in Thurles on Saturday. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

Kerry displayed plenty of mettle to twice recover from the concession of Michael Boland goals and deservedly claim the All-Ireland U-21 B title, thanks to Shane Conway and Maurice O'Connor strikes in the second-half at Semple Stadium.

Even into a huge wind in the first-half Kerry looked the stronger side, but they still needed a solid final quarter to see them across the line to a fifth title at the grade.

In Jack Goulding Kerry had the game's classiest operator. With three points - including a slick sideline cut - already to his name, Goulding picked out Conway with an accurate stick pass after 43 minutes and the Lixnaw man crashed a goal past Cian Staunton. When O'Connor flicked a breaking ball to the net five minutes later Kerry's comeback was complete and they held on easily for the victory.

"At the end of the day the scoreboard doesn't lie. It was maybe a poor first-half on our part. Going in at half-time two points down, in that breeze, you wouldn't have been overly panicky, but we knew there was more in us," said manager Ian Brick.

"But we just weren't allowed to play by Wicklow, they were really determined. You'd have to give them huge credit and you'd imagine they must be hugely disappointed.

"We're happy that we battled when we were in trouble. After conceding the goal in the second-half we really battled, got the goal and that kind of set us up."

Wicklow's Michael Boland scores his side's first goal despite the efforts of Kerry's Billy Lyons. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Wicklow's Michael Boland scores his side's first goal despite the efforts of Kerry's Billy Lyons. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Once Kerry had logged that solid opening 30 minutes it was expected that they would finish off the job in the second-half. Goulding's sideline cut after 33 minutes pulled them to within a point, while a Conway free had them level a minute later.

Boland's second goal came at the end of a smart move, but once the double blow came Wicklow manger Seamus Murphy knew they faced a tough comeback.

"When we did hit them with that goal, if we had been able to stabilise for a few minutes we would have come under tortuous pressure. Two sucker punches, absolutely," said Murphy.

Before the throw-in Kerry announced that their full-back and captain Darragh Shanahan was not fit enough to line out, which saw Ronan Donovan called up. Watching Shanahan lift the Richie McElligott Cup, Brick was positive about the future of the game in the county.

Kerry captain Daragh Shanahan lifts The Richie McElligott Cup. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Kerry captain Daragh Shanahan lifts The Richie McElligott Cup. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

"It really sets up our seniors for the winter ahead and for the coming spring. An awful lot of these lads will hopefully push on and push for places. They are just a great bunch of lads and we are delighted with it."

Scorers - Kerry: S Conway 1-6 (6f), M O'Connor 1-1, J Goulding 0-3 (1 sl), R Donovan, D O'Carroll 0-1 each.

Wicklow: M Boland 2-0, E Donohoe 0-3 (3f), S Germaine (2f), J Doyle 0-2 each, S Hughes 0-1.

Kerry: S Murphy 7; B Lyons 7, J Diggins 8, S O'Sullivan 7; E Ross 6, J Buckley (c) 6, J Brick 7; B O'Sullivan 7, T O'Connor 7; R Donovan 7, J Goulding 9, M O'Leary 7; M O'Connor 8, B Barrett 6, S Conway 8. Subs: D O'Carroll 7 for Donovan (46), R Collins 6 for Barrett (51).

Wicklow: C Staunton 6; S Hughes 7, O Furlong 6, S Maloney 6; E Donohoe 7, M Traynor 7, A Hughes 6, T Healy 6; C Moorehouse 7, C Whitmore 7; G Hughes 6, P Doyle (c) 6, J Doyle 8; M Boland 7, S Germaine 7. Subs: P O'Toole 7 for Whitmore (34), T Mellon 6 for Healy (44), A Kinsella for Doyle (59-61 blood).

Ref - J Murphy (Limerick).

Irish Independent

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