St Pat's prevail
Senior Hurling League (Dessie Murphy Cup) Final: St Patrick's 3-10 Glenealy 2-10
It's June, it's league, it was a horrible, dirty evening for hurling, it was played in bad light and both sides were missing players, but it has to be said that Pat's are moving very well.
A strong Glenealy finish saved Garry Laffan's men from a bit of a going over and Michael Neary will know there is plenty of room for improvement after the concession of that late 1-5, but the manner in which the St Pat's men approached and performed in this game rightfully earned them the Dessie Murphy Cup at the end, with the club bagging the league double after their Intermediates were declared champions on Monday.
George 'Bee' O'Brien was the star of the show for the Wicklow town side in the county grounds before a small crowd of hurling enthusiasts on a filthy night. The corner-forward bagged 3-2 on the evening, showing sublime hurling skills and pace to torment the Glenealy defence and give the Reds lots to think about at this early stage.
County star Andy O'Brien returned a haul of eight points (five frees and two 65s and an exquisite bomb from the sideline out on the stand side) and his battle with Danny Staunton is going to be one to be watched as the championship gets underway and develops. O'Brien drifted out the field in the second half and could be found way back helping out his own defence as the Glenealy revival kicked in.
For 50 minutes this game was all about one team and one team only, and that was St Patrick's. Having lost two men to a six-month and three-month suspensions that were in the process of being appealed and have since been reduced to one-match bans following the abandoned league game between Michael Neary's men and Eamonn Scallan's Éire Óg Greystones, Pat's looked like they'd face a tough task in a Glenealy side who fielded without the likes of Warren Kavanagh, Leighton or Enan Glynn, Robert Byrne, Paul O'Brien and the Twinnies, Emmett and Jamie.
However, Pat's have been hurling very well during the league campaign and they dismissed Carnew up in Dunbur and had Éire Óg well beaten prior to that game being abandoned by referee Ciaran Manley so it was a question of whether they could maintain that form and forget about the boardroom situation that was to unfold the following evening.
An early exchange of points threatened a nip and tuck affair but that was quickly forgotten as Pat's 0-7 to 0-1 lead after 20 minutes with Andy O'Brien accounting for six of those and 'Bee' grabbing the other with Gavin Weir's wicked sideline cut after two minutes being the only Glenealy score until Jonathan O'Neill Snr dispatched a penalty to the bottom corner of Eoghan O'Mahony's net after 25 to leave it 0-7 to 1-1 for Pat's.
Glenealy's mini recovery continued in the dying embers of the first half with points from Gary Hughes and Jonathan O'Neill Snr sending the teams in for shelter with Pat's ahead by four at 1-7 to 1-3 with a feisty second half promised.
But George 'Bee' O'Brien's wicked turn and subsequent rocket of a goal right from the restart of the second half was exactly what Pat's needed and they should have really put the game to bed immediately after, but they clocked up four wides in as many minutes to keep Glenealy in this game despite the Reds having hardly hurled at all.
Things looked very bleak for the defending champions when 'Bee' O'Brien showed ruthless attacking instinct to win possession and blast to the roof of Cian Staunton's net to make it 3-8 to 1-5 (Jonathan O'Neill Snr with Glenealy's two second-half scores, one free, one 65).
A point from Jonathan O'Neill Snr after 22 minutes got the recovery underway and further points from full-forward Wayne O'Gorman, Matthew Traynor and Alan Driver brought the Reds back to within six points.
Pat's pushed on again with points from 'Dee' and Andy (free) and late 1-1, the goal from Gavin Weir after lovely stick work, and the point from Gary Hughes left St Patrick's the Dessie Murphy Cup champions after an impressive performance in woeful conditions.
It's way too early to talk about anything to do with championships or anything else but St Pat's supporters can look forward with optimism to a championship that should provide plenty of excitement and drama.
What's most promising from the Pat's point of view is the manner in which they are hurling.
From Eoghan O'Mahony in goals, Andrew Conway, Christy Moorehouse, Ricky Quinn, 'Bonner' O'Brien and Paddy Moorehouse, the hurling from the Pat's men was very impressive. They look assured and confident and very capable.
Obviously, Glenealy will improve massively, Bray will bring a huge challenge and no team can really be written off, but the heart and passion shown by the Pat's men and the attacking flair they bring suggests a major threat on the horizon in 2019.
Scorers - St Patrick's: George 'Bee' O'Brien 3-2, Andy O'Brien 0-8 (5f, 2 65). Glenealy: Jonathan O'Neill Jnr 1-4 (p, 3f, 1 65), Gavin Weir 1-1 (s/l), Gary Hughes 0-2, Wayne O'Gorman 0-1, Alan Driver 0-1, Matthew Traynor 0-1.
St Patrick's: Eoghan O'Mahony; Andrew Conway, Dale Quinn, John Connors; Michael Connors, Christy Moorehouse, Chris Kavanagh; Ricky Quinn, Jim O'Brien; Wayne Farrell, James 'Bonner' O'Brien, George O'Connor; Paddy Moorehouse, Andy O'Brien, George 'Bee' O'Brien. Subs: John 'Greengrass' O'Brien for W Farrell, Eddie Kell for D Quinn.
Glenealy: Cian Staunton; Tommy Doyle, Danny Staunton, Ronan Manley; Joey Driver, Garry Byrne, Jack Kavanagh; Jonathan O'Neill Snr, Liam De Hora; Gavin Weir, Alan Driver, Matthew Traynor; Gary Hughes, Wayne O'Gorman, Jonathan O'Neill Jnr. Subs: Kevin O'Halloran for L De Hora
Referee: Liam Keenan Jnr (Aughrim)