Bray claim 'C' title
GAA U17 ‘C’ Hurling Championship Final: Bray Emmets 3-12 Luke O'Toole's 3-8
Bray Emmets were crowned Under-17 'C' hurling champions for 2018 after an entertaining battle with a committed Luke O'Toole's outfit in Ballinakill on Sunday morning last.
The performances of Sean McDonagh, Rory Lambe and Davy Maloney were key to the victory for the Bray men who were pushed all the way by Luke O'Toole's who lost midfielder Eoghan Byrne to injury in the first half and found his absence to be too great despite battling all the way to the final whistle.
It was a brisk Sunday morning in Ballinakill as both sides warmed up for battle. Ciaran Gaskin was the unexpected man in the middle following late notice that the official assigned to the job couldn't make it. Gaskin had been down to do the line. As it turned out there were no linesmen at this game and it was only after an altercation between two mentors over a line ball that a Luke O'Toole's mentor agreed to Ciaran Gaskin's request to do the line.
This match officiating malaise that has badly affected Wicklow GAA shows no signs of improving and it's only a matter of time before a serious incident takes place.
Ballinakill on a Sunday morning is far from ideal for a county final of any kind. The county 'A' under-17 decider was 15 minutes old in Joule Park Aughrim when this game got underway at 11.30am and it is a real shame that underage finals are not given a more high-profile date to help lift the game of hurling in the county.
Working hard to lift that profile are the Bray Emmets and Luke O'Toole's clubs and both possessed some fine hurlers on Sunday morning.
One of those fine hurlers was Rory Lambe and he rifled home the opening goal after 10 seconds when he gathered a long Davy Maloney ball and zipped his shot past the impressive Conor Connolly.
Luke O'Toole's were showing numerous changes to their team sheet from the off. Midfielder Darragh Owens was at full-forward while Sean Campbell (17) and Tomas Hayden (18) were included in the starting 15.
This was a very decent game of hurling played at a reasonable pace with the battle between Eoghan Byrne and Davy Maloney at midfield proving very interesting for the small crowd of supporters.
A foul by full-back Aaron O'Rourke on Darragh Owens gave Eoghan Byrne his first effort from a free and he fired over to get Sean O'Shea's men up and running.
Good defence from Sean Campbell went unrewarded when his clearance found a Bray man and the ball was worked to Michael Timmons who fired over.
Darragh Owens was looking nifty inside for O'Toole's and he blasted home past Cathal Eddy with 11 on the clock to leave it level at 1-1 apiece.
It was up and down the field for the next 15 minutes with Rory Lambe's second goal on 23 minutes helping Bray to a 2-5 to 1-4 lead. At this point disaster struck for O'Toole's.
Bray were clearing their lines on the 45 and Eoghan Byrne stopped low to block and the momentum and arc of the Bray hurl saw it collide with the back of Byrne's shoulder. Down went the midfielder in obvious distress and he would take no more action in this game.
His absence from the middle third of the field was noticeable and that's not to take from the brave effort of the young men who battled from then until the end.
Things were looking very bright for Bray when they opened a 2-7 to 1-5 lead early in the second half through two points from Rory Lambe (one free) with a pointed free from Luke O'Toole's goalkeeper Conor Connolly sandwiched in between, but the game would be turned on its head when Dara O'Shea profited from good work by Darragh Owens to fire home to the back of the Bray net and then John Toomey's shot flew in over the head of Cathal Eddy to leave the game all square at 3-5 to 2-8 after 43 minutes.
Bray lost Rory Lambe to injury after the talented attacker took a heavy knock just before O'Toole's third goal and when John Toomey lobbed over a free shortly afterwards things were looking good for the south Wicklow side.
But back came Bray, helped in no small part by Luke O'Toole's errors. Conor Connolly's superb goalkeeping was undone when he overcarried and Davy Maloney punished from the placed ball.
The excellent Sean McDonagh pointed a free on 49 before a speculative shot from Sam Kearney found its way into the Luke O'Toole's net and all of a sudden Bray led by 3-10 to 3-6 with 10 to go.
Both sides would battle hard for the remainder. Another Sean McDonagh free was answered by James Doyle from play.
Conor Hardiman lifted the pressure off Bray with a fine effort late on and Darragh Owens' final point was a mere consolation as Bray Emmets held on to win by 3-12 to 3-8.
Bray captain Davy Maloney collected the trophy from Wicklow GAA's Owen Byrne. The talented Maloney paid tribute to Luke O'Toole's.
These two side have met three times this year and will benefit hugely from the battles.
Bray's corner-back Sean McDonagh was awarded the Wicklow People sponsored Man of the Match award after a confident and controlling performance at the back.
Scorers - Bray Emmets: Rory Lambe 1-5 (3f), Peter Ahearne 1-0, Sam Kearney 1-0, Davy Maloney 0-2 (1f), Sean McDonagh 0-2 (2f), Michael Timmons 0-1, Kevin Bushe 0-1, Conor Hardiman 0-1. Luke O'Toole's: John Toomey 1-2 (2f), Eoghan Byrne 0-4 (3f), Darragh Owens 1-1, Dara O'Shea 1-0, James Doyle 0-1
Bray Emmets: Cathal Eddy; Jack Treacy, Aaron O'Rourke, Sean MacDonagh; Eoin Holmes, Adam Bushe, Tadhg McCarthy; Michael Timmons, Davy Maloney; Daniel Flavin, Sam Kearney, Conor Hardiman; Kevin Bushe, Peter Ahearne, Rory Lambe. Subs: Conor Goggin for K Bushe, K Bushe for R Lambe (inj), Daniel Munro.
Luke O'Tooles: Conor Connolly; Sean Campbell, Oisin Dunne, Gearoid Donoghue; Jack Murray, Cillian Mcdonald, Shane Arthur; Eoghan Byrne, James Doyle; Tomas Hayden, John Toomey, Oisin Dillon; Dara O'Shea, Darragh Owens, Cathal Hayden. Subs: Dylan Lynch for E Byrne (inj), Callum Mutton for O Dillon, Adam Keegan for T Hayden.
Referee: Ciaran Gaskin