CRAOBH CHIARAIN 5-10, SETANTA 3-10
THE lights came on in the Parnell Palladium. A big night for the kids. Sonny was in the building. Still singing about hurling and his beloved Setanta.
Murty Ryan was managing the Craobh. The Chiaráin's blood runs deep. Murty played for the Dubs. One of Lar Foley's favourite sons. Praise from Lar was hard won.
On the terraces, the faithful were indulging in Songs of Praise. The pace and the stick-work had everybody talking. Several of the long-distance striking would have been at home in the Cooley Mountains.
At the finish over by the dugout, Craobh's senior mentor, Philip Cullen, shook hands with Setanta's Sonny, Padraig ó Maoilsteighe. They both agreed that hurling was the winner.
Philip's grandson, Daniel Phillips, was the Craobh captain. What a player. Murty's own son, Conor, is also a class act. Paul Kelly had an hour to remember.
The Setanta stars were also shining bright. Eric Swan and Ryan Swift were majestic in defence, Cian Fallon and Ryan Clarke were popping them over, while Nathan Whelan added a couple of more goals to his vast collection.
"I thought it was a cracker," declared Setanta's Peter Williams. "Two excellent sides. The standard was first-class. It was a great experience for these young players to play in Parnell Park under the lights."
The Donnycarney side contains many of the family names that served the club for decades. "The big thing is that most of the squad are still only U14, so that augurs well for the future," suggested Emmet Cooling.
So does the finishing of James Finn, who scored a second half hat-trick of goals at the score-board end. Finn has the gift of the best goal scorers -- ringing the door bell just as the kettle is boiling.
Those goals helped the Craobh steam towards harbour, but the second period saw one of the best goals you'll see in the theatre this year as Whelan's wonder injury-time strike nestled high in the left corner.
Chiaráin's were in front at the interval, 1-6 to 0-6. Fallon hit a peach of a point -- his third on the trot -- as the Ballymun boys carved out an early lead.
Three times they were level before the break. It was tremendous stuff. Finn got two goals within two minutes of the restart and that proved the critical Craobh cushion.