Kilnadeema-Leitrim 3-13 Pearses 1-14: Kilnadeema-Leitrim held the lead for most of this Junior ‘B’ Hurling Final played yesterday afternoon in Duggan Park, Ballinasloe. Pearses hit the front for a spell midway through the first half, before the game’s third goal. The result was not decided however until the fourth and final goal of the game, with just three minutes of normal time remaining.
The teams exchanged a free apiece at the start before Kilnadeema-Leitrim added two points from play to lead 0-3 to 0-1 after eight minutes of action. Niall Skehill hit back from play for Pearses, but then the game’s first goal when big centre-forward Cathal Nevin burst through the Pearses defence to finish into the town end net. The two sharpshooters Niall Skehill and Liam Kelly exchanged pointed frees to leave the score 1-4 to 0-4 at the end of the first quarter.
Good work by Conor O’Grady in the left corner sent Ronan Skehill through on goal after 16 minutes. Skehill was fouled to win a penalty and a chance for Pearses to hit the front for the first time. Pearses keeper Paul O’Brien came forward to test his opposite number Paul Howard. O’Brien put everything behind a powerful drive, but the sliotar lifted over the crossbar, 1-4 to 0-5.
Pearses continued to press and were rewarded when Damien Wynne goaled on the twentieth minute for the lead, 1-5 to 1-4. Pearses held that lead for five minutes as the game went though a mini-scoreless spell. Disaster however again for Pearses with five minutes left on the clock when a well worked move seen Kilnadeema-Leitrim strike for their second goal, going back in front. Skehill and Kelly again landed scores for their sides in the remaining minutes of the half, which ran into four minutes of injury time. Half-time score, KL 2-6 Pearses 1-7.
Pearses introduced two experienced attackers, Aidan Kilkenny and Robbie Donnellan after half-time. Yet again Skehill and Kelly shared the opening two points of the second half. Conor O’Grady then chipped in with his second point of the game, a fine effort from the left, off the back foot, Pearses 1-9 Kilnadeema-Leitrim 2-7. Kilkenny levelled the game soon after with a point from his right-corner forward position. He continued to bring the fight to the Kilnadeema-Leitrim backline and added his second in the middle of two from Kilnadeema-Leitrim. After 45 minutes, KL 2-10 Pearses 1-12.
In the remaining fifteen minutes, plus four of injury time the teams would add seven more scores between them, four for Kilnadeema-Leitrim and three for Pearses. The decisive score was the odd one out, a Kilnadeema-Leitrim goal on the 27th minute. Pearses pressed hard but could not mine a goal back, as the Kilnadeema-Leitrim defence held tight. The final killer blow was a sideline pointed from the right side by Man of the Match Liam Kelly, an outstanding performer over the hour. Niall Skehill conclused the scoring on the stroke of full-time, from a free.
Congrats to Kilnadeema-Leitrim who now advance to the All-Ireland Club Junior ‘B’ Series. Hard luck to our men, who battled gamely throughout this entertaining contest. For long periods the game seemed as if it may be heading for a draw, but it wasn’t to be in the end. Thanks to the players and management team of Anthony Kenny, Martin Bellew and Adrian Queeney for their efforts throughout the year. Thanks also to Parker Agri Supplies for their continued sponsorship.
Pearses: P O’Brien (0-2, 1p, 1f); R Carr, J Jenkins, P Raftery; L Morrissey, T McDonagh, T Broderick; E Lawless, C O’Neill; K Beckett, D Wynne (1-0), N Skehill (0-8, 5f); P Lally, C O’Grady (0-2), R Skehill. Subs used: A Kilkenny (0-2), R Donnellan, K Connell, S Murray; Subs: A Burke, D Burke, S Walsh, P Mahon, D Lawless, D Skehill; E Burke, M Barry. Referee: Ogie Moran.