Gorey in the groove
Naomh Eanna 1-14 Oylegate-Glenbrien 0-12
A Jack Cullen goal midway through the second-half proved crucial in seeing Naomh Éanna get over Oylegate-Glenbrien in this closely-fought Greenstar Under-20 hurling Division 1 championship semi-final in Gorey on Wednesday.
After going in level at the break, there was only two points separating the sides before Cullen made his decisive intervention, giving the Gorey team the confidence they needed to eventually see off their opponents.
To their credit, Naomh Éanna always looked the stronger side and got off to a bright start when they went three points up after ten minutes largely thanks to Cullen's accurate free-taking.
It looked like Oylegate-Glenbrien hadn't really found their feet at this stage but eventually they got going as their midfield partnership of Jack Reck and Tom White found the range.
The eventual winners steadied things at the back again however, and the next two points came from half-backs Evan O'Dwyer and Jack Cushe, before Murphy hit his second.
Oylegate-Glenbrien had a profitable spell leading up to the break when the hard-working Mike Kelly hit his second point and Jack Reck continued to be accurate from frees, leaving the sides level at the interval.
The early exchanges of the new half played out similarly to the first, with neither side dominating and both Reck and Cullen doing most of the damage for their teams.
But, shortly after Cullen hit his seventh point as the third quarter ended, on the next attack he found space on the '40 and had nothing else in his head but to head straight for goal, finishing off his run with an excellently-taken shot to the bottom corner of the net.
This was a real blow for the Oylegate-Glenbrien boys as they were already struggling to create scoring chances, but they kept pressing to get themselves back into it.
But, after they failed to capitalise with two 20-metre frees, Naomh Éanna held on for a deserved win to set themselves up with a repeat of last year's Under-21 final against St. Martin's.
Naomh Éanna: Aaron Byrne; Seamus O'Donnell, Eoin Molloy, Seán Dowling; Evan O'Dwyer (0-2), Jack Cushe (0-1), Seán Delaney; Jack Cullen (1-8, 0-7 frees), Michael Molloy; Jack Doran, Charlie McGuckin (0-1), Nathan Byrne; Darragh Canavan, Cillian Donohoe, Eddie O'Brien-Murphy (0-3). Sub. - Shane Stokes for Donohoe.
Oylegate-Glenbrien: Kevin Cosgrave; Ryan Hill (0-1), Niall Parker, Evan Kelly; Peter Rowley, Damien Reck, Gary Conroy; Jack Reck (0-8, 6 frees), Tom White (0-1); Conor Nolan, Mike Kelly (0-2), Pierce Murphy; Fiachra Hourihane, Barry Doyle, Joe Dunne. Subs. - Mossy Cosgrave for Nolan, Eoghan Herlihy for Hill.
Referee: Justin Heffernan (Blackwater).