Under 21B hurling final 2010
SMITH O BRIENS…………….2-8
By Michael O Connor.A powerful recovery, stunning scoring spree, determined defending for 20 minutes and a late late rally best describes Wolfe Tones success in this hard fought under 21B final played in Cusack Park
In the not too distant past Wolfe Tones were perennial challengers for the under 21A crown. However in the last decade this has not occurred so an appearance in any final has to be welcomed. The 5/2 on offer in local bookmaking emporiums suggested little faith in this team but following their hard fought semi final win when looking beaten persuaded a sizable wager on this team. Kilmaley were tipped as the class outfit in the B grade and when Killaloe overcame them the pundits rallied behind the East Clare sides chances.
Pre match rumours suggesting that talismanic forward Liam Walsh would be unable due to a broken bone were quashed and the injury was not evident as he was involved in most creative moves in the forward ranks by Killaloe. Four minute elapsed before the first score coming in this years B final when Eoin Ryan broke free and his low hit effort deceived the Shannon defence.
With the breeze apparently aiding the airport town men they needed to get scores and perhaps lead by five points at the break. Daniel Gallery finally opened theTones account from an 8th minute free before Kevin McCafferty scored a smart effort from an acute angle. After 13 minutes the sides were on level terms when Gallery scored his second free as Shannon were now more comfortable but it was not long before Smith O Briens threatened. Liam Walsh finished off a great move with a superb point and when brother Kevin added a 19th minute free it looked as if the East Clare side were about to assume control of the game for the remaining 10 minutes of the half.
This did not transpire as Wolfe Tones began to take control of the half back and midfield as Aaron Cunningham, Gallery and Condron were to the fore. Russell Lagan started the fightback beating three and finishing a great point. Daniel Gallery sent in a speculative effort into the Smith O Briens square where the breaking ball was finished to the net by Aaron Cunningham. Shannon were now two clear and definitely in control. Cunningham was fouled in the 22nd minute with Gallery pointing the free.
Cunningham added another score from play and with Shannon hitting four wides in the final ten minutes of the half Killaloe were most fortunate. A number of referee’s calls did not over enthuse him with the East Clare sides supporters. The final score of the first half once again fell to Shannon when another free from Gallery left Wolfe Tones (1-7) to (1-2) ahead facing the breeze but full of confidence. Wolfe Tones started the second half in confident mood with the first attack that was sent wide by Guilfoyle. The next attack resulted in a penalty when Aaron Cunningham was impeded. Gary Leahy’s effort penalty was saved but the ball was in the Killaloe net a minute later when a smart move involving McCafferty and Aidan McMahon saw the ball break to Cunningham whose powerful effort went past the dive of Mark Stritch. Wolfe Tones were now (2-7) to (1-2) clear. The see saw nature of the game witnessed the fourth goal after 39 minutes when a Killaloe free from Liam Walsh hit hurleys all over the place before Keith Walsh tipped it to the net.
The hard tackling Wolfe Tones backs were living life on the edge with a number entering Jim Hickeys notebook. The best point of the game from Shannon came from Daniel Gallery who received the ball inside his own half before finishing from 60 yards. The intervening ten minutes was mostly dominated by Smith O Briens but they could not turn ample possession into scores as they replicated the first half wides tally created by Wolfe Tones hitting four wides in six minutes including two poor frees from the Walsh brothers. Dean Sinnot and two scores from Michael Ryan heaped the pressure on Wolfe Tones and with the game in the final five minutes a replay looked ominous as Smith O Briens looked the side most likely to win if a definite result was to be the outcome. After 54 minutes Liam Walsh left three points between the side and the brace of scores from Ryan left Shannon shaky one point leaders entering the final minute of normal time.
When it was announced that three minutes of injury time would prevail the odds suggested a late rally from Smith O Briens yet it was Wolfe Tones who finished the stronger on the counter attack. The Shannon men won a free converted by Gallery to stretch their lead to two and in one last attack Smith O Briens lost possession and the ball broke upfield to Gallery who scored the insurance point and seconds later the champions were unveiled. The champions had strong displays from Joe McGauley, Stephen McInerney, Sean Condron, Russell Lagan, Daniel Gallery, Gary Leahy, David Ryan, Paul Hogan and Aaron Cunningham. The Wolfe Tones defence who took no prisoners must take the lions share for this success as they kept the route to goal a no go area for most of the game.
A heartbroken Smith O Briens side who suffered with the half fit Liam Walsh gave of their all with Pat Vaughan who could not break free to dominate and attack trying hard. Others to do well included Brian McInerney, Eoin Ryan, Micheal Ryan, Aidan McKeogh and Mark Stritch.
WOLFE TONES: Paul Hogan, Gary Whelan, Joe McGauley, John Madigan, David Ryan, Stephen McInerney, John Guilfoyle, Steve Simmonds, Sean Condron, Russell Lagan (0-1), Daniel Gallery (0-7), Gary Leahy, Aaron Cunningham (2-2), Aidan McMahon, Kevin McCafferty (0-1).
SMITH O BRIENS: Mark Stritch, Kevin McEvoy, Mark McInerney, Noel Howard, Aidan McKeogh, Brian McInerney, Luke Hession, Pat Vaughan, Kevin Walsh (1-1), Keith Stritch, Dean Sinnot(0-1), Mark O Halloran, Liam Walsh, Michael Ryan (0-4), Eoin Ryan (1-0), Liam Walsh (0-2).
REFEREE: Jim Hickey (Cratloe).
After the final whistle assistant secretary of the county board Des Crowe presented the under 21B cup to a jubilant Wolfe Tones captain Sean Condron.