North Cork U17 hurlers marooned by Galway in Celtic Challenge final
U-17 Celtic Challenge - Corn Michael Hogan Final: Galway Maroon 4-24 North Cork 2-12
For 30 minutes of last Saturday's Celtic Challenge contest at Bord na Móna O'Connor Park in Tullamore, North Cork produced some excellent direct hurling, and looked well poised to secure the honours in their Corn Michael Hogan (Division One) Final against Galway Maroon.
These two sides were the form teams throughout the competition so far and they opened their battle at Tullamore with some superb hurling, moving the ball quickly and playing with real intelligence and craft.
Then, after half time, it all transformed utterly. Galway now hurled with the aid of a slight breeze but there was much more than that at play as the Westerners moved their level of performance onto another level entirely, and crushed their opponents by outscoring them 4-16 to 0-5 in that half hour.
Two excellent first half goals from Alan Walsh appeared to put North Cork into a commanding position at half time, 2-7 to 0-8 up, and at that stage they looked like the marginally more likely winners, albeit in a contest when it looked like both sides were capable of raising plenty more green flags.
Both inside forward lines appeared to move well, with Galway's attackers - most notably corner forward Colum Molloy - thriving on low, diagonal ball that invited good angled runs out from goal. Meanwhile the Cork lads were happy to go even longer and more direct, bringing the aerial ability of full forward Alan Walsh into play, while Patrick Sheehan also played a key role as a scoring threat at centre forward.
Their long ball tactic bore fruit when the big Kanturk man leapt up to catch a long ball from Darragh O'Grady and quickly rounded his man to rattle the net from ten metres out, but Johnny Hartnett's charges struggled to get enough of those sort of deliveries into their target man and soon found themselves a couple of points adrift, despite some good scores from Sheehan that stemmed the tide of Galway dominance.
In the ten minutes coming up to the half time whistle, North Cork hit on a rich vein of form and suddenly established a strong position. Michael Sheehan shot three frees, Patrick Sheehan added his third point and Walsh found the Galway net for the second time, repeating his earlier trick of getting out in front of his marker, leaping high to claim the ball and rifling the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
At the other end a wonderful hook from Cian O'Sullivan denied Conor Slattery a goal chance, and all was well with the world for the supporters who made the long trip up to the midlands venue.
Then, the wheels came off as Galway maroon stepped their game up to another level that the Rebel county lads just couldn't match. Slattery at wing forward and Aaron Dolan at midfield peppered the posts with a run of points from distance, and while their first goal from Colum Molloy was scrappy, the floodgates opened in the final quarter, with three more Galway goals fired in.
Brandon Murphy, James Fitzpatrick and Ben Twomey added points for North Cork against the run of play, but they simply couldn't get any real momentum going and ultimately had to settle for a distant second place at the end of a hugely successful Celtic Challenge campaign.
Galway Maroon: Ben Murphy; Cian O'Shaughnessy, Phelim McCann, Cian Mulrooney; Cathal Keane, Tiernan Killeen, Alex Burns; Eoin Finnerty, Aaron Dolan 0-2; Caelan Hardiman 0-1, Michael Walsh 0-2, Conor Slattery 2-6; Jake Nee, Niall Glynn 1-3 (0-3f), Colum Molloy 1-8. Subs used: Thaigh Heavey (24), Evan Farrell (52), Keith Burke (52), Robbie Green (56), David Lee 0-1 (56), Conor Burke (56), Niall Martin (56), Daithí Keane 0-1 (57), Diarmuid Fahy (57), Shaun Killilea (57).
North Cork: Liam Clancy; Jake Buckley, Peter Condon, Eamonn Hayes; Cia O'Sullivan, Killian Cagney, Brian Cotter; Darragh Daly, Darragh O'Grady; Cormac Roche, Patrick Sheehan 0-3, Seán Killeen; Michael Sheehan 0-4f, Alan Walsh 2-1, Brandon Murphy 0-2 (1f). Subs used: Seán O'Riordan (50), James Fitzpatrick 0-1 (52), Ben Twomey 0-1 (52), Gearóid Roche (56), Dylan Kelleher (59), Cian O'Mahony (59), Aidan O'Leary (59).
Referee: Conor Doyle (Tipperary)
Rebel Og Squad
Liam Clancy - Fermoy
Sean Sugrue - Ballycastle Gaels
Peter Condon - Glanworth
Sean O'Riordan - Mallow
Jake Buckley - Shanballymore
Cillian Cagney - Charleville
Cien O'Sullivan - Kanturk
Brian Cotter - Killavullen
Darragh O'Grady - Kilavullen
Cormac Roche - Fermoy
Patrick Sheehan - Ballycastle Gaels
Sean Killeen - Granard Gaels
Brandon Murphy - Dromtarriffe
Alan Walsh - Kanturk
Michael Sheehan - Kilara Og
Killian Heggtveit - Kilara Og
Luke O'Donoghue - Dromtarriffe
Ben Twomey - Fermoy
Eamonn Hayes - Kanturk
Sean O'Connell - Ballygiblin
James Fitzpatrick - Fermoy
Gearoid Roche - Ballycastle Gaels
Aidan O'Leary - Ballycastle Gaels
Dylan Kelleher - Millstreet
Adam Flynn - Fermoy
Darragh Daly - Fermoy
Cien O'Mahony - Newtownshandrum
Sean McCarthy - Newtownshandrum
Ger Murphy - Fermoy
Dylan Collins - Ballycastle Gaels
Mentors: John Hartnett, Dave Heafey, Pa O'Brien, John O'Flynn, Pat Roche