Pearses 1-13 Ballinderreen 1-7: Report by Martina Donnellan. A hue of black and white hung over Duggan Park this evening as Pearses U14’s celebrated their U14 A1 County Final win over Ballindereen and have rightfully earned their way to play top flight ‘A’ hurling next year. It might not have been the prettiest of hurling but Pearses got over the finish line to secure the county title. It has been a remarkable journey for Eddie Mitchell’s youthful squad winning one of the lowest grades in U12 in 2017, U13A in 2018 and U14 A1 in 2019 and this group of lads will now play U15A hurling next year. A great resume for any manager to have but nobody could question the merit of their triumph, the attitude, commitment and superiority of this cohort of players.
Pearses had to make a few positional switches before throw-in due to the injured Cormac Hillary who sustained a dislocated thumb in training and was gutted to miss this game. This allowed young Diarmuid Ryan the start at corner forward as Ollie Laheen took up Cormac Hillary’s position at wing back andamp;amp; Conor Kelly started at centre back instead of his usual centre forward position.
From the early exchanges Pearses raced into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead after 7mins and looked the better side and helped by an 18th-minute goal from Cilly Fahey, they fully deserved their 3 point interval advantage. Paddy Kenny was the star man and converted a 65’ within seconds of the throw-in as Cilly Fahey found Ronan Hynes whose pointed effort was half blocked down and Kenny converted the 65’ with ease. Ballinderreen responded with a point from play through Niall Delaney as they worked the ball nicely down the field.
Cilly Fahey had an effort which was saved by the keeper as he showed great style and panache flicking the ball on the ground to himself before his effort fell short and into the safety of the goalie. However the goalie’s misplaced puck out was picked up again by the hard working Fahey who throttled forward and was dragged down in the process. Paddy made no mistake with the free. Paddy Kenny’s effort from play tailed wide as Fahey’s low pass along the ground was picked up nicely by him. It was frees which kept Pearses in the driving seat as our forwards were closed down quickly whenever they found the ball in space.
Paddy Kenny converted another free from almost the 65’ line, this time Laheen was fouled. Ballinderreen’s speedy full forward Stephen Mannion was first to a 50/50 ball and as he turned and ran towards goal he was pulled down in the process and the resultant free was whipped over by Donnacha Ganly. Ballinderreen had a half goal chance but the ball was ushered wide under the supervision of Harry Mitchell. Ganly added another free in a game riddled with frees and tested the accuracy of the freetakers on both sides. On 12 mins the first point from play arrived as Stephen Mannion got in behind Pearses defence line and he smacked over from close range to go ahead for the first time in the game. Paddy restored parity again with another trademark free, this time Darragh Roche the victim of the foul.
A goal looked on the cards for Ballinderreen only for a great intervention by young corner back David Walsh but in the resultant play, the ref awarded a free in which Niall Delaney converted to make it a one-point game again to Ballinderreen. Pearses were given the tonic they so eagerly yearned for when Laheen burst in along the endline, passed to Darragh Roche and as the ball fell nicely for Cillian Fahey, he slipped inside his marker and bulleted to the net. Inspired by the goal and straight from the puck out, Orin Burke went on a solo run through the heart of the defence and passed to his right to Ronan Hynes who was calling for the ball and he neatly struck over his right shoulder to spilt the posts and swing the pendulum in Pearses favour 1-5 to 0-5. Jonah Donnellan fetched a free on the goal line which fell short for Ballinderreen and cleared the danger and then Orin Burke ended first half play as he went on the rampage with one of his trademark runs but was deemed to have over-carried the ball. Half time: Pearses 1-5; Ballinderreen 0-5.
Within seconds of the restart Darragh Roche’s effort dropped short after a lovely pick-up and as the goalie batted out the ball, Dara Scarry lost sight of the flight of the rebound and was a little off the mark to punish the goalie. Paddy Kenny added 2 more frees after Cilly Fahey was fouled on both occasions. At this stage Pearses had really settled down and their dominance continued owed much to the accuracy of Paddy Kenny’s frees. Some good pressure from a combination of Diarmuid Ryan and Darragh Roche and Ballinderren’s forward was deemed to have over carried and up stepped Paddy to take the free. With the sun in the eyes of the goalie and the defenders lining the goal line, Paddy belted it low and hard as the goalie got his stick to it to turn it out for a 65’ which Paddy duly converted. Paddy Kenny, who covered every blade of grass on the pitch got on the end of the puck out, passed to Cilly Fahey whose effort sailed beautifully over. Jack Reilly then received a yellow card for fouling his man but the resultant free tailed off target. Ollie Laheen’s effort went harmlessly wide after good battling from Anthony Feeney while Jonah Donnellan also steered his effort wide. Paddy Kenny then received a Christy Browne yellow for a high foul on his opponent as the incident was more an accident than malicious while play continued hard and tough but spirited. Jonah Donnellan extended the margin with a good effort from out the field to move the lead to 8points.
Ballinderreen’s midfielder Donnacha Ganly then ran through the heart of Pearses defence and belted over as they complained that the ball had gone through a hole in the net but as Christy Brown consulted his umpires, the white flag was raised midway through the 2nd half. Paddy Kenny tapped over a free after he was fouled himself. In the final 7 mins Perases had to weather a mini Ballinderreen onslaught as they breached Harry Mitchell’s goal to offer them a life line. Sean Kelliher sent in a high lobbing ball which was cleanly fetched by Stephen Mannion and he made no mistake in rattling the net from close range. Mannion had another goal effort as Paddy Kenny was beaten for the first time on the night, he cut in across the goal and walloped his goal chance right across the face of the goal with 17mins on the clock. Niall Delaney clawed it back to 4 points with a good effort from play. That man Paddy Kenny extended the margin to 5 points again immediately as he gathered the resultant puck out and split the posts for an inspirational point.
The industrious Cilly Fahey then was fouled but play was halted due to an injury to Conor Kelly. Following the resumption Kenny tapped the free over to bring Pearses tally to 1-13 and add to Ballinderreen’s woes. As the clock ticked into additional time, Ballinderreen had a close-in free which their taker hit low and hard but out emerged the white helmet of Ollie Laheen with the ball. Right at the death as Ballinderren searched for another goal, who but Paddy Kenny emerged with the ball in his hand as he picked up a loose ball in the ruck. Christy Browne blew the final whistle and suddenly all the agonies of past teams who had come this far but not quite made it over the line had disappeared. The win also helps to lift the gloom of the Galway hurlers exit from senior championship hurling at the weekend.
Pearses were full value for their money as it was only in the early stages and closing stages that Ballinderreen hit form but in fairness, they couldn’t complain about the outcome. Overall though the game didn’t really catch fire but this matters little in Co Finals. Whether you win a classic or not, it fails to matter. A win is a win. Paddy Kenny put in a tour de force performance, hitting 7 frees, 2 65’s and a point from play and deservedly won the Man of the Match award. Both teams fought tooth and nail to win this U14 A1 County final as Pearses emerged victorious on a comfortable scoreline: Pearses 1-13; Ballinderren 1-7, although both finalists play top flight U15 A hurling next year.
There was nothing quite as pleasant as a sea of black and white descended on the pitch as Conor Kelly was presented with the coveted cup. He thanked the management team of Eddie Mitchell, Tony Walsh, Martin Scarry, Sean O’Neill and physio Alan Kelly. He also thanked his mother Rose Kelly for the excellent job she does as juvenile secretary and thanked Bobby Hynes Agri Contractors who come up trumps year after year with regard to sponsoring juvenile teams at every age group.
The last big applause was kept for Mr. Paddy Kenny who was not alone Pauric Lohan’s selection of the Man of the Match award but everyone elses as well. Well done to the team and their mentors on a great success story to date. Thanks also to the large number of supporters who came out in support of the team. Finally we wish Cormac Hillary a speedy recovery with his thumb injury.
Scorers: Paddy Kenny 0-10 (7F; 2 65’); Cilly Fahey 1-1; Ronan Hynes 0-1; Jonah Donnellan 0-1.
Panel: Harry Mitchell, Conor Hillary, Jack Reilly, David Walsh, Oliver Laheen, Conor Kelly, Jonah Donnellan, Paddy Kenny, Orin Burke, Cillian Fahey, Anthony Feeney, Ronan Hynes, Dara Scarry, Darragh Roche, Diarmuid Ryan, Cormac Hillary, Cathal Hynes, Cian Burke, Patrick O’Neill, Dylan Roche, Conor Walsh, James Queeney, Padraic Kelly (also injured).