National Féile, Day 1

Report by Martina Donnellan. Our Feile feast of hurling began this evening in Ballymacward and even with no electricity, rain for the first time in a while and the thunder and lightening failed to dampen the spirits of three evenly matched teams. Being pitted against Patrick Sarsfields (Belfast) whom Pearses are hosting this weekend and Na Fianna, Co Laois, it was disappointing to see that Tuam pulled out at late notice to leave all 3 games played this evening and a welcome free Saturday morning unlike the Feile plans put in place in advance. Both Pearses games against the Antrim and Laois champions were closely contested with the issue in doubt right to the end.

The visitors, Patrick Sarsfields held the upper hand in the first game for most of the first half and they led by 1-1 to 0-0 at half time, the goal coming from Patrick Sarsfields Caolem Donnelly on 3mins with a kicked effort. Both teams found it difficult enough to cope with the greasy ball and slippery underfoot conditions. Anthony McGarrigle scored from play just before half time as scores were hard to come by. Pearses turned the game around in the second half although they received a real let-off early in the game as a goal looked certain only for the vital interception of Paddy Kenny but as the ball was whipped across the square it was pulled on first time but fortuitously for Pearses and agonisingly for our visitors the blasted effort went wide. 3mins after the restart Conor Moran got Pearses off the mark with a pointed free after Cillian Fahy was fouled. Another Pearses let-off 4mins into the second half as Harry Mitchell batted the ball away from danger but Daniel Smith almost smashed the crossbar in two with goal on his mind.

Conor Moran tapped over two consecutive frees to peg the game back within a point after Cillian Fahy and Orin Burke were fouled respectively. Moran levelled matters through another free after the hard working Ronan Hynes was fouled. Pearses: Scoreless at half time but now back in the game. Could they maintain their momentum and push on? Pearses took the lead with their first point from play with a well worked score – a long range free from Oisin Donoghue played into Cillian Fahy in the corner and as he linked up nicely with a quick one-two with Niall McDonagh who tapped over a sweet score to a great applause with a minute left to play. Deep into injury time, Moran tapped over his 5th free after Ronan Hynes was fouled and so it finished nicely for Pearses with a 2 point win after a poor start against good opposition. Final score: Pearses 0-6; Patrick Sarsfields 1-1. Scorers: Conor Moran 0-5 (all frees); Niall McDonagh 0-1.

There was only a slight reprieve for Pearses as they had to face the Laois County Champs with little recuperation. This was a hugely competitive game with little or nothing between the sides. The Laois boys got off to a great start with a great goal in their first attack to put Pearses on the back foot early on. Straight from the ensuing puck out and Cillian Fahy saw his goal bound effort deflected out for a 65’. Na Fianna’s No. 12 scored from play to add to their tally and although Pearses were trying, but with 3 consecutive wides in a row, had failed to open their scoring. David Walsh had a great effort blocked after a good Jonah Donnellan run on the flank. Conor Moran tapped over a free on the stroke of half time as Cillan Fahy charged in along the end line drawing a foul on himself which Moran obliged with the placed ball to leave Pearses trailing 1-1 to 0-1 at half time.

Within a minute of the restart Paddy Kenny’s long ball found goal supremo Niall McDonagh who scored the first of his hat-trick with a high lobbing ball. Na Fianna’s No. 11 edged them ahead again with a point from play. They extended their lead shortly afterwards when their first effort deflected off the crossbar but somehow the rebound was shuffled over the line. Niall McDonagh who was in his natural full forward berth for the second half somehow scrambled a long delivery from Oisin Donoghue over the line to put the minimum between the sides. Moran obliged again with another placed ball from a difficult angle to tie the game at 2-2 apiece.

Then came a killer blow from the visitors as their forward throttled in on goal leaving Pearses defence at his mercy and his unstoppable effort left Harry Mitchell with absolutely no chance. But Pearses changed gear. Conor Moran whilst slipping still manged to get his shot in, found McDonagh and as he weaved himself into a scoring position his bullet found the net to yet another rapturous applause to tie the game up at 3-2 apiece. Conor Moran had the chance to steal a march on the Laois boys with a late 65’, won by Orin Burke but his effort went wide. In the end both teams were happy to come away with a point apiece. Final score: Pearses 3-2; Na Fianna 3-2. Scorers: Niall McDonagh 3-0; Conor Moran 0-2 (Frees). So another day out tomorrow; this time in the Centre of Excellence, Bekan for a quarter final; opposition yet unknown.

Pearses Panel: Harry Mitchell, Eanna Cunniffe, Jack Reilly, Cormac Hillary, Peter O’Neill, Oisin Donoghue, Mark Donnellan, Anthony Feeney, Niall McDonagh, Ronan Hynes, Orin Burke, Conor Moran, Paddy Kenny, Conor Kelly, Oliver Laheen, David Egan, Cillian Fahy, Peter O’Neill, Jonah Donnellan, Jason Rabbitte, Dara Scarry, Diarmuid Ryan, Ross Lally, David Walsh, Cathal Hynes, Jamie Nutley.

As always, thanks to the parents for the fine spread of both savoury and confectionery food served up while the ladies committee dealt with things aptly in the circumstances without electricity. In his Chairmans welcome address in Mitchell’s Gurteen: Adrian Queeney thanked Eddie andamp;amp; Helena Mitchell for the use of their premises at such short notice. Compliments were also expressed to Pearses camogie club for the complimentary hot food served by them and supplied by Jimmy Screene, Becky and Co.

The chairman also commended the hard working Feile Committee headed by returned Canadian emigrant Martin Barry and his co-workers, Martin and Dorothy Scarry, Maura Carr, John Raftery, Shane Ruane and Rose Kelly for their tireless efforts in ensuring a smooth running of such an important aspect of the hurling calendar. He also thanked all three Pearses sponsors of club gear. Patrick Sarsfield’s Juvenile Chairman, Michael Coleman paid tribute to the warm welcome received all round from Padraig Pearses club while both Juvenile visiting and host chairmen exchanged tokens of appreciation.
A long day of hurling is expected tomorrow, hopefully with positive results. I remember an acronym on a course one time: TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More. We look forward to a good team effort from the Pearses boys tomorrow. Thanks also to our sponsors of Féile playing gear for the panel: Bobby Hynes and Sons; James Clancy Plastering and Martina Donnellan.