U16s Fight-back Falls Just Short

Meelick/Eyrecourt 6-12 Pádraig Pearses 6-9. Report by Martina Donnellan. A tremendous fight back from Pearses saw them almost come back from the dead against Meelick/Eyrecourt in Round 2 of the U16 hurling championship played in Meelick/Eyrecourt yesterday evening. Three saved goal attempts from Orin Burke, Conor Kelly & Oisin Donoghue in the closing stages of a pulsating 2nd half just about kept the hosts ahead.

There was a feast of goals as Pearses got off to the worst possible start 2-1 down within 2minutes with full forward Josh Spain doing all the damage; his second goal somewhat fortuitous finding its way to the net from almost the half way line assisted by a strong breeze above the head of stand in keeper Jack Reilly. Orin Burke put in an absolute exhibition all through and got Pearses going on 3mins with an effort from play.

The hosts added 3 more points, a 65’ and two from play before Orin fired over his 2nd after Cilly Fahey & Eanna Cunniffe had a hand to play in the move. Tensions rose as the game heated up while Conor Kelly, Cillian Fahey & No. 7 for Eyrecourt were shown yellow by ref. Peter Campbell. Just on the stroke of the water break Orin added a 3rd after Fahey again linked up with Darragh Roche for Orin to fire over. Conor Kelly, Paddy Kenny & Orin Burke’s attempts on goal failed to find the net while straight up the other end, Meelick/Eyrecourt’s forward soloed across the face of goal and netted from close range past Ronan Hynes who assumed the goalie’s spot after the first half water break. Paddy Kenny was upended in a run through the centre and Orin tapped over the free. The hosts added another free from way out the field assisted by the strong breeze to push them 3-5 to 0-4 ahead. Paddy Kenny’s quick free found Orin running into space and he fired over his shoulder and over the crossbar.

Another whopper of a blow before half time saw the hosts score their 4th goal in a high ball which beat the defence line and the quick thinking forwards ground stroke found the net from close range. Pearses responded with a point as Cilly Fahey played Orin again who was taken down and he duly converted the resultant free. Eyrecourt added 2 more frees before half time to leave Pearses trailing a whopping 13 points at the break: 4-7 to 0-6.

Pearses re-started the 2nd half well as Orin Burke was swung around in a scoreable position and he, himself tapped over the free. Then another sucker blow arrived as Ronan Hynes saved a goal bound effort but the rebound was smashed to the net for Meelick/Eyrecourt’s 5th goal of the game. Immediately Pearses responded through Orin as he found the net after weaving through a number of players and his low hard shot was drilled to the net. The hosts rattled another rasper to the net as they turned Pearses defence inside out and left Ronan with absolutely no chance of any kind as Niall McDonagh received a yellow card in the process. They added a free before Orin helped to stage a huge comeback when he found the net again in an exact replica of his first goal, Cillian Fahey with the delivery.

Meelick /Eyrecourt pointed three more from play before Darragh Roche cut in along the endline and released a rasper to the net while Conor Kelly’s delivery again found Orin and he too rattled the net to make it 6-11 to 4-7. The final 10mins was all Pearses. Paddy Kenny’s high ball found Orin again who drew a good save to concede a 65’ which was taken quickly to Conor Kelly who fired over. Ollie Laheen followed with another point after a good run. With minutes remaining Cillian Fahey found Orin who could have goaled himself but unselfishly passed to the inrushing Oisin Donohue who rattled the net to put 5 points between them 6-11 to 5-9.

With time ticking away, Pearses found time for another goal as Paddy Kenny ran up the wing, took a shot which the goalie saved and the rebound was batted in by Darragh Roche to leave just 2 points in it. However time ran out on a battling Pearses outfit as Meelick/Eyrecourt converted a free just on the final whistle to extend their winning margin to 3 points. Pearses 6-9; Meelick/Eyrecourt 6-12.

Perhaps at half time, the few Pearses supporters who made the early evening trip to Meelick/ Eyrecourt were expecting way too much as there seemed to be very little to hang much hope on. Yet with 5 minutes to go the prospect of Pearses staging a Lazarus-like recovery against top class opposition led by full forward Josh Spain seemed very real.

Pearses left it late to put in their lion hearted display as Orin Burke cemented his rising star status with an exhibition of all sorts as he notched 3-7. Indeed the entire team expended every last ounce of energy in the end but it was a huge lead to claw back and another minute or two might have reaped another goal as seeds of doubt were undoubtedly sown in the minds of the Meelick/Eyrecourt lads. If the 1st half display matched the 2nd half performance, it might have been a different story. For now, there is a last group game against Four Roads to contend with.

Scorers: Orin Burke 3-7 (0-3F); Darragh Roche 2-0; Oisin Donohue 1-0; Conor Kelly 0-1; Ollie Laheen 0-1.

Panel: Jack Reilly, Cormac Hillary, Oisin Donohue, Ollie Laheen, Conor Moran, Niall McDonagh, Mark Donnellan, Paddy Kenny, Conor Kelly, Ronan Hynes, Darragh Roche, Cillian Fahey, Anthony Feeney, Orin Burke, Eanna Cunniffe, Dara Scarry, Diarmuid Ryan, Peter O’Neill, Conor Hillary, Dillon Roche. Speedy recovery to Anthony Feeney who had to retire early due to injury while Harry Mitchell should be recovered for the next outing.