Ballyhogue’s rotten luck in Under-13 final continues
THE QUALITY was top notch in the Halo Tiles Centre of Excellence on Saturday as Liam Mellows completed a superb double with an impressive victory over hard-trying Ballyhogue in the New Ross Standard Under-13 hurling Division 2 championship final.
The boys in maroon had already won the corresponding top-flight football crown under the Castletown guise, and this Ryan Murphy-inspired win was fully deserved.
However, spare a thought for Ballyhogue, because they also contributed in rich measure to a cracking game that was a wonderful advertisement for hurling at this level.
Unfortunately for them, it was the fourth final loss they have endured since June, having also gone down in the delayed 2020 deciders for Division 3 hurling and Division 2 football, as well as this year’s Division 2 football showpiece.
They certainly didn’t deserve such a cruel fate, and here’s hoping they will stick at it and reap better rewards moving up through the age grades.
While Liam Mellows had several stars, the power, poise and beautiful clean striking of centre-back Ryan Murphy made it look like onlookers were watching a fully-grown adult rather than a boy of 13.
He was superb throughout, with full-back Cormac Doyle and right-winger Brendan Noctor also excelling in defence. The midfield pairing was very impressive too, with captain Eoin Kinsella providing astute leadership while the diminutive Niall Kavanagh was full of clever touches and did his best work in a deep-lying role when his team faced the breeze in the second-half.
Liam Mellows were out of the traps first, with Eoin Kinsella and Cian Keating picking off early points – the latter after a lovely pass from Ryan Murphy.
Ballyhogue free-taker Seán Vaughan got them off the mark, and he kept his side in touch by replying to a second score from the accurate Keating.
However, the first big break for Liam Mellows arrived in the twelfth minute when Ryan Murphy’s long-range free from the right travelled all the way to the net (1-3 to 0-2).
Vaughan cut in from the left before the water break and was unlucky to strike across goal and wide, but Ballyhogue shipped another blow on the restart.
This time another Ryan Murphy delivery caused consternation, and Andy Kinsella was on hand to find the net with a close-range pull (2-3 to 0-2).
Vaughan replied with his third successful free, but the Coolgreany side hit the last three points of the half from Eoin Kinsella (free), Cian Keating and Ryan Murphy to lead by 2-6 to 0-3 at the break.
James Breen made a good early second-half save to keep Ballyhogue in the game, and they were boosted even further by a brilliant goal midway through the third quarter.
Dylan Martin-Roche’s cross from the left hung in the air and was first-timed superbly to the net by big Nathan Doyle, reducing the gap to six points (2-6 to 1-3).
Seán Vaughan’s fourth free followed, and it was 2-7 to 1-5 at the final water break after a further exchange of points between Eoin Kinsella (free) and Dylan Martin-Roche.
The strong defending of Liam Mellows was clear in the closing stages, holding the ’Hogues scoreless while adding a brace of points themselves.
Ryan Murphy’s solo effort in the 42nd of the 50 minutes was simply breathtaking, with Eoin Kinsella adding a free into the wind to put the seal on a most impressive victory.
In a nice late touch, Rían Kavanagh was brought on to be on the field for the final few seconds. He had played through the pain barrier in the football final win over Rathgarogue-Cushinstown, with the broken arm he sustained during that game only detected afterwards.
Liam Mellows: Ravindra O’Toole; Aiden Noctor, Cormac Doyle, Rory Ahearne; Brendan Noctor, Ryan Murphy (1-2, 1-0 free), Mark O’Donnell; Niall Kavanagh, Eoin Kinsella (capt., 0-4, 3 frees); Andy Kinsella (1-0), Cian Keating (0-3), Liam McNamara; Jamie Maguire, Jack Fanning, Ruadhan Cullen. Subs. – Josh Finn for McNamara (40), Dan Gregan for Maguire (50+1), John Allen for Cullen (50+3), Rían Kavanagh for Fanning (50+4), also Sam Weekes, Cian Breen, Mark Chapman, Luke Doyle.
Ballyhogue: James Breen; Tom Finn, Sam Kirwan, Larry Sludds; Cathal Ennis, Seán Kavanagh, P.J. Breen; Conn Fraser, Charlie Kehoe; James Wall, Nathan Doyle (1-0), Dylan Martin-Roche (0-1); Diarmuid Doyle, Seán Vaughan (capt., 0-4 frees), Cian Doyle. Subs. - Luke Carr for C. Doyle (39), also Evan Newe, Finn Doyle, George Murphy, Oisín Hayes, Sam Devereux, Odhrán Connolly-Byrne.
Referee: James Owens (Askamore).