U13 Hurling Semi-Final

Skehan 2-7 Pearses 2-6: There’s been plenty of local derbys down through the years: St Thomas’ and Gort, Portumna and Loughrea to name but two but Skehana and Pearses U13’s was equally as hotly contested as any other Senior Championship derby game yesterday evening in Duggan Park, Ballinasloe.
This game had everything one would expect to see in a local derby: team mates and friends one day – rivals the next, palpable tension, some great flashes of individual brilliance, plenty of excitement and some great scores and in the end it took a pressure free from Sean Hansberry who held his nerve to score the winning point in a tight encounter 5mins into stoppage time to push Skehana over the line.
No one present would have denied that extra time would have been the fairest outcome for both teams but instead 5 mins of stoppage time was played and so the wheels came off the wagon for our U13’s. We wish Skehana all the best in the County Final against Kilconieron. The purest of hurling passion was shown by both teams from the very outset. Pearses got off to the quickest start as young Jonah Donnellan tapped over from his left side after Conor Moran’s free found him out. Moran converted 2 more frees on 4 and 10mins after fouls on Ronan Hynes and Darragh Roche respectively.
It took 12mins for Skehana to open their account, a humdinger of a shot from the powering Sean Hansberry which was tipped over the bar by the ever vigilant Harry Mitchell. Hansberry followed up with a free to claw the lead back to 1point. Skehana reigned supreme then thanks to a well taken bullet of a goal from Conor Laffey which left young Mitchell with little chance. Skehana’s lead though was short lived as Conor Moran’s long range free found the net to give the impetus back to the Pearses lads. Both free takers swapped points before the break, Moran for Pearses after Peter O’Neill was fouled followed by Hansberry for Skehana to leave the minimum between the sides at half time in favour of Pearses 1-4 to 1-3.
Skehana got a tonic start to the 2nd half with a goal within a minute as Sean Hansberry sent in a high lobbing ball which was well read by Harry Mitchell, tapped away from danger but fell to Conor Laffey who made no mistake as he batted the rebound to the net. Conor Moran responded with a free and then Sean Hansberry from play as he cut across the middle of the field and hit a sweet point over the bar and put Skehana 2 points up on 28mins. Then, it was Pearses turn to get their grip again as a poor clearance from the Skehana defence fell to Conor Moran and his cracker goal almost dislodged the weld between the stanch and the post to put a solitary point between the sides once again. 2-5 to 2-4.
With 6mins left Cormac Hillary won a vital free in defence to relieve some pressure as Eanna Cunniffe, Mark Donnellan, Conor Kelly, Oisin Donoghue and Jack Reilly were standing their ground. A Conor Moran free relieved a bit more pressure to push Pearses 2points ahead after a foul on Peter O’Neill. With 3 mins to play, it looked like Pearses might hold out but Skehana got themselves back on level terms with a Finian Murray point from play and Donal Loftus lofted his effort from play neatly over the bar to draw level after a great solo to rapturous applause from the Skehana contingent in the stand.
And so with 40mins on the clock and time ticking down, the pressure was intense in the closing stages but it was Skehana who just about got over the line with that pressure Hansberry free for a remarkable victory for them and utter disappointment for Pearses. We wish our neighbours the very best in their County Final outing.
Scorers: Pearses: Conor Moran 2-5 (1-5f); Jonah Donnellan 0-1; Skehana: Sean Hansberry 0-5 (0-3 Frees); Conor Laffey 2-0; Finian Murray 0-1; Donal Loftus 0-1. Pearses: Harry Mitchell; Cormac Hillary, Mark Donnellan, Eanna Cunniffe, Conor Kelly, Oisin Donoghue, Jack Reilly, Conor Moran, Paddy Kenny, Peter O’Neill, Darragh Roche, Anthony Feeney, Jonah Donnellan, Ronan Hynes, David Egan, Dara Scarry, Dylan Roche, Cathal Hynes, Conor Hillary, Patrick O’Neill.
Report by Martina Donnellan