U14 Hurling, Round 4

Pearses 2-4 Annaghdown 1-5: An epic in every sense was played tonight in Ballymacward as the driving rain and gale force breeze howled through the stand while the ever reliable supporters tried in every sense to wrap up and keep warm. It was a night for the fireside chair but instead both Pearses and Annaghdown went at it hammer and tongs and supplied the best entertainment in a hurling match in terms of pressure, tension, great blockdowns and hooks from Niall McDonagh, Conor Moran andamp;amp; Cormac Hillary and the closest possible thing to perfection from young Harry Mitchell in the Pearses goal. He showed superb reflexes as he made some extraordinary, game-saving saves in the driving rain as the pressure was intense in the last few minutes. Eventually after the ref added some extra minutes of added time, which exacerbated the tension, the Pearses lads reigned supreme by 2 points.
He might be low to the ground but Harry Mitchell showed tonight that he’s a solid shot-stopper from any angle and he copes well under a high ball. There’s no doubt but the smiles were a foot wide in the Pearses dressing room after the game as they knew they had earned this one. Pearses were quickest out of the blocks going 1-1 up within 2 mins. Cillian Fahy linked up with centre forward Conor Kelly who bulleted to the net. Conor Moran added a point from play within a minute assisted by the breeze although the goalie did get a hurl to it to help it over. Conor Moran added a free after Cillian Fahy was fouled while at the other end Annaghdown converted two frees. 15mins in Cillian Fahy had a lot of work to do to shake off a few tackles before striking a beauty over the crossbar. Conor Kelly then had a goal bound effort saved by Eoin Concannon in the Annaghdown goal but the rebound fell nicely for him and he neatly struck it over to put Pearses ahead 1-4 to 0-2. Annaghdown clawed the lead back to 4pts at half time with another free. Half time: Pearses 1-4; Annaghdown 0-3.
In the 2nd half, Pearses had the strong gale to contend with which assisted the Annaghdown onslaught on the Pearses goal. Within a minute of the restart Annaghdown had a big chunk taken out of their deficit as their big No. 5 scored a cracking goal on the second time of asking to put the minimum between the sides. Harry Mitchell certainly wasn’t going to be beaten again! He made a point blank save as the Annaghdown comeback was imminent and with only the goalie to beat, Mitch stood his ground showing absolute bravery. He gave true meaning to the old saying ‘It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog’.  Immediately from the puck out Mitchell was called upon again but was equal to the task with another fine stop. Conor Moran relieved some of the pressure as Mark Donnellan sent in a high ball which was held up by the breeze, half defended by Annaghdown and Moran finished a low hard bullet to the top corner from a long way out to put a bit of daylight between the sides again. 2-4 to 1-3.
Annaghdown led by their dominant No. 5 andamp;amp; No. 8 instigated another Annaghdown revival as a ball was sent in across the face of the goal mouth but luckily their full forward lurking on the edge of the square failed to connect for what was certain to be a goal. In the ensuing play Harry Mitchell gathered the ball and in his attempt to clear his line, his hurl was whipped off him but he stayed on his horse kicking the ball and harrying until he drew a shoulder on the Annaghdown player on the 21’ line and received a yellow card for his sins – it wasn’t even a blemish in a man of the match performance as he did his job; the danger of another certain goal was averted.
Annaghdown tapped over two subsequent frees with 4 mins left to play to put 2 points between the sides. The last few minutes Pearses had to withstand the toughest of pressure. Cormac Hillary won a vital free out at an opportune time, Annaghdown’s free tailed wide at the last minute thanks to the breeze , Mitchell saved a 21 yard free, Annaghdown hit the butt of the post, Mitchell kicked a ball away from the goal line, and another powerful save by Mitch from a certain piledriver as the game went into 3 mins of additional time. At last the ref blew the final whistle and one would think that an All –Ireland was won. It felt like every bit of it. One can only say well done to both teams who served up such a superb performance on a horrible night. It was nothing short on ‘Superb’.
Scorers: Conor Moran 1-2 (1F); Conor Kelly 1-1; Cillian Fahy 0-1.
Team: Harry Mitchell, Eanna Cunniffe, Oliver Laheen, Jack Reilly, Oisin Donoghue, Cormac Hillary, Mark Donnellan, Niall McDonagh, Conor Moran, Conor Kelly, Darragh Roche, Cillian Fahy, David Egan, David Walsh, Dara Scarry, Conor Hillary, Jamie Nutley, Dillon Roche, Ross Lally.
Report by Martina Donnellan