A truly remarkable and gutsy contest ended in heartbreak for Pearses U15 Féile hurlers in Ballymacward this morning as Pearses lost to Gort in a ‘winner takes all’ battle given that both sides had won their previous 2 games in Group 2. This was always going to be a daunting task given that Gort marched to victory on Paddys Day in Round 1 of the U15 hurling championship when the sides last met. Pearses started well as Jonah Donnellan had them on the scoreboard within 2mins after Tommy Nutley’s puck out found David Walsh who played Donnellan. The next 3 points belonged to Gort – 2 from play & a free from Ruairí, the diminutive No. 13. Donnellan responded from play after good work from Sean Kelly under the stand. Gort hit the next 3 from play, the pick of them from No. 12 who managed to get the shot in despite being sandwiched remarkably by James Queeney & Conor Hillary. Convincingly though Pearses rattled off 3 points. Dylan Roche was first to a 50/50 ball & fired over & 2 Donnellan frees. The diminutive & knacky Ruairí added a free before the break to leave Pearses trailing by 2 points at the break. Pearses 0-5; Gort 0-7.
Pearses restarted well with David Walsh adding from play after trojan work from Diarmuid Ryan at the back. Then came a sucker blow when a free from midfield taken by No. 8 found its way to the net. Gort added a free and tapped over from play in 3 mad minutes. Suddenly Pearses were in an uphill battle and Gort had eased 6 points clear. But Pearses were unrelenting. Donnellan added 2 more points – 1 from play & a free but then Donnellan fired tantalisingly wide from the clubhouse sideline & David Walsh from under the stand. Gort put over a 65’ with 6mins to go. From then on, Pearses took over as Gort scored a single point in the last 6 mins plus 4mins of added time. Donnellan went on a surging run and his cracker of an effort from a good distance out was saved by the full back. Both sides exchanged frees; Donnellan for Pearses after Kyle Mac was fouled & little Ruairí for Gort. Donnellan cut the deficit to 2 points with 2mins to go after a splendid line ball from David Walsh to find him. At this stage Gort were hanging on for their lives. Diarmuid Ryan who had a marvellous game at the back was fouled & Jonah Donnellan cut the deficit to a solitary point with the resultant free deep into stoppage time. The ref blew after the resultant puck out which ended Pearses gallant Féile ambitions while the large crowd in attendance realised that small margins … even inches was the difference between the 2 sides.
It was an exceptional performance by Pearses who literally bruised their way back into the game despite being 6 points down early in the 2nd half. It was brilliant to see all those familiar hurling traits – tenacity, hounding of the lad in possession, brilliant movement and sheer never say die attitude – come to the fore.
Tommy Nutley was steady and made a brilliant diving save in the 2nd half to turn the ball out for a 65’. Daniel Lydon, Fionn Donohue & Cathal Hynes bossed & bullied their way at the back while Diarmuid Ryan, James Queeney & Kyle Mac were powerful in their clearances. David Walsh & Conor Hillary bossed things in the middle of the field particularly as Pearses began the fightback. Jonah Donnellan led the attack with great harrying & hassling and splendid work rate from Darren Moran & Conor Walsh. Sean Kelly, Dylan Roche (carrying an injury) & Eoghan Ryan found space to get their team mates on the ball. That’s Féile over for another year. So near & yet so far! As we wish Gort all the best in their next outing.
Scorers: Jonah Donnellan 1-8 (0-5F); Dylan Roche 0-1; David Walsh 0-1.
Panel: Tommy Nutley, Daviel Lydon, Fionn Donohue, Cathal Hynes. James Queeney, Diarmuid Ryan, Kyle McDonagh, David Walsh, Conor Hillary, Darren Moran, Jonah Donnellan, Conor Walsh, Sean Kelly, Dylan Roche, Eoghan Ryan, Stephen Murphy, Luke Mitchell.