U16s into Semi-Finals

Pearses 2-15; St. Thomas 3-10. Report by Martina Donnellan. Our U16 Pearses team qualified for the U16 B1 hurling semi-final with a hard earned win: Pearses 2-15 to St. Thomas 3-10 yesterday evening in Ballymacward. This Pearses team had to simply show a bit of everything yesterday evening – physicality, power, pace, energy, effort and some lovely slick touches and movement – to get over the line against a team led by No. 8, their leader Conor Headd, son of Maurice Headd, Galway hurling star from the early 90’s. It was a big challenge and they embraced it with great confidence given that a win was a ‘must’ if they were to advance to the semi-finals and there’s no doubting that both teams were in this to win it with the result in doubt right up until the bitter end.

Pearses opened the scoring in their first attack, David Hillary from play after good work from Orin Burke and a diagonal cross field pass from Ethan Lally to Hillary. St. Thomas’ got off the mark with two frees while Harry Mitchell made a good save at the other end. Good play from Pearses resulted in the first goal in a 5 goal feast. Ethan Lally, Orin Burke andamp;amp; Luke Mitchell sucked in their opponents leaving Mark Donnellan unmarked and he crashed to the net to make it 1-1 to 0-2 on 6mins. St. Thomas’ scored two quickfire points from play and Conor Headd converted two frees to put 2 points between the sides.

Both teams traded scores, Luke Mitchell converted a free after he was fouled himself while Headd pointed from play for the visitors. Orin Burke’s effort sailed sweetly over the black spot after a good diagonal cross from Ethan Lally and Conor Kelly equalised with a slick point taken on the run to leave the score 1-4 to 0-7 with 27mins gone. St. Thomas’ made up a 3 point deficit again before the 1st half closed with a well taken goal from Conor Headd after the Pearses rearguard failed to clear. Luke Mitchell won a close-in free just before the half time whistle and Cian Murphy drove it low and hard but his effort was saved and eventually cleared. Half time: Pearses 1-4; St. Thomas 1-7.

The 2nd half saw a cracker! Pearses first attack again led to a splendid point. A long delivery from Orin Burke found Conor Kelly who flicked the ball up for Luke Mitchell to gather on the run and he made no mistake in front of the posts. Thomas’ responded with a long distance effort which sailed over the bar. Paddy Kenny scored a tonic goal as St. Thomas appeared to be gaining the upper hand and while it took a deflection on the way, it mattered little as it found the net with Orin Burke, Ethan Lally and David Hillary instrumental in the build-up. The joy was short lived though as St. Thomas’ worked the ball up the field from the ensuing puck-out and scrambled another goal as again the defence failed to clear the loose ball from the danger area. The goal stood much to the protest of Harry Mitchell as he tried his best to reason with the ref. Pearses 2-5; St. Thomas 2-8.

Cian Murphy pointed from play to reduce the deficit to 2 points while another sucker blow came 10mins into the 2nd half as St. Thomas’ goaled again in a goalmouth shemozzle and one felt it would be like climbing Everest to pull this one out of the fire. But these lads showed great character and fearlessness and certainly didn’t panic. They knuckled down and got 3 points in quick succession; Ethan Lally andamp;amp; Ciano with 2 points from play, both set up by Orin Burke while Ciano converted a free after Orin was fouled. Conor Headd replied with a free before Pearses hit the front with four points in succession. Cian Murphy with 3, a 65’ and two monster points from midfield and the stand sideline respectively to draw up the match with 23 mins gone.
Ethan Lally ensured Pearses hit the front 2-13 to 3-9 as he batted the ball down to himself and neatly slotted over to put Pearses in the driving seat although St. Thomas always looked dangerous on the break. One felt at this stage that this match would be decided by a puck of a ball, and you’d need that bit of luck as well. St. Thomas converted another free to restore parity as Brian Kelly went down with cramp and Dr Luke did his best to relieve him. At this stage the game was far from gentle excitement as both teams looked like they were hurling for their lives!

Then Pearses opened up a 2 point lead. Cian Murphy’s free went over after he was fouled himself as he got on the end of Luke Mitchell’s whopping sideline cut and Ciano scored again from play with 2mins to go after Conor Moran was involved in the move. As the ref shouted a minute to play, Cian Murphy stood over a sideline 35 yards out and his monster cut smacked off the crossbar and as Brian Kelly latched onto the rebound, his ground pull agonisingly hit the side net. David Hillary put his effort wide straight from the puck-out but it was as good as a score just to keep the pressure on. Pearses held out in the end for a gallant 2 point win over an eager St. Thomas’ side and earned their place in the semi-final, date TBC.

Well done lads, a gallant effort and all round team performance with special mention to the full back line Robert Fahy, Robert Hynes andamp;amp; Oisin Donoughue who did well under pressure while Paddy Kenny, Niall Mac who had some mighty blockdowns, Jack Reilly and Conor Kelly (2nd half) showed great timely clearances when the pressure was on.

Scorers: Cian Murphy 0-8 (0-2F; 0-1 65’); Paddy Kenny 1-0; Mark Donnellan 1-0; Ethan Lally 0-2; Luke Mitchell 0-2 (0-1F); Conor Kelly 0-1; Orin Burke 0-1; David Hillary 0-1.

Panel: Harry Mitchell, Robert Fahy, Oisin Donoghue, Paddy Kenny, Niall McDonagh, Jack Reilly, Orin Burke, Brian Kelly, Ethan Lally, Cian Murphy, David Hillary, Conor Kelly, Luke Mitchell, Mark Donnellan, Conor Moran, Ronan Hynes andamp;amp; Eanna Cunniffe. ????