Junior Hurling Championship Final
St Patrick’s 0-8
By Charlie Keegan
HAVING led 1-5 to 0-5 at half time, Palatine struck for three second-half goals to comfortably close out this junior hurling championship final at Netwatch Cullen Park on Saturday, the men from Cnoc Árd thus retaining the title.
St Patrick’s were competitive for the opening half as they sought to bring rare hurling silverware to the Slaneyside town but, in truth, they met a superior force in this decider.
Palatine’s 16th-minute goal which separated the sides at the short whistle was a speculative free from some 65 metres and well to the right of goal from Pal’s centre forward Eoin McMahon. The delivery was excellent and the flight of the ball deceived the Patrick’s goalkeeper to put the holders into a 1-2 to 0-2.
The wet conditions militated against good hurling and while this was no classic there was no shortage of endeavour with the game played in a sporting spirit. Palatine performed better as a team unit while St Patrick’s depended on a few individuals around the field to take the game to the holders.
The challengers rarely threatened the Pal goal. One good chance did fall their way early on when St Patrick’s corner forward Ruan Cafferty made a good connection with a ground shot to the left of goal but the sliotar went inches wide of Tommy O’Shea’s left-hand post.
Free takers Eoin McMahon for Pal and St Patrick’s Dylan Kenny were prominent from placed balls in that opening half but nothing had been decided by the break and when Cathal Murray pointed from play for the men in blue and gold early in the second half, there was the prospect of a close-run affair.
It was not to be. Palatine, with Paul Reid at full back outstanding and team captain Liam Kenny anchoring the side excellently from centre back, never really allowed the St Patrick’s forwards a genuine glimpse of goal.
An Eoin McMahon point from a free for a foul on Ken McDonald restored the three-point advantage from the Kildare-border side 39 minutes.
The game’s decisive score arrived on 43 minutes. Midfielder John Reid was the architect as the number nine spotted right-half back Sean Dermody in an advanced position. Reid’s diagonal ball from the left wing picked out Dermody and he beat his man before shooting to the net. For an encore Eoin McMahon fielded a great ball and split the posts to send his side seven points clear.
Pal were now dominant and despite the best efforts of Eoghan Cleary, Paul Calley and Pádraig Murphy, the game had gone beyond the ‘saints’.
In the final quarter Palatine pushed home their advantage with a brace of goals from Aidan Murphy, on 50 and 52 minutes, completely killing over the Tullow challenge. The second green flag for Murphy came about when he was quickest to react after the ball came back into play off the post and his finish was clinical.
St Patrick’s fought on but the issue had been well and truly decided with Liam Kenny collecting the junior cup for the second successive year.
Besides those already mentioned for the winners, Dermot McDonald, Seán Dermody, David Reid and Dermot and Ken McDonald were to the fore.
St Patrick’s will labour on in the junior championship for 2019. No-one would begrudge them the title and perhaps Saturday’s final will be a stepping stone to success next year.
Palatine: Tommy O’Shea; Dermot McDonald, Paul Reid, Chris O’Brien; Seán Dermody (1-0), Liam Kenny (0-1), Gavin Farrell; David Reid, John Reid; Jamie Kenny, Eoin McMahon (1-7, 1-5 frees), Ken McDonald; Aidan Murphy (2-1), Pakie O’Toole, Cathal Ryan (0-1). Subs: Shane O’Neill for O’Toole (36 mins); Conor Reynolds for O’Brien (53 mins), Darragh Moran for K McDonald (55 mins); Jimmy Fitzpatrick for D McDonald (57 mins)
St Patrick’s: Joe Byrne; Ryan O’Neill, Alan O’Neill, Jamie Ansbro; David Kelly, Denis Kelly, Eoghan Cleary; Garrett Young (0-1), Paul Calley; Paul Sheppard (0-1), Pádraig Murphy, Dylan Kenny (0-4, frees); Cathal Murray (0-1), Shane Farrell (0-1), Ruan Cafferty. Subs: Brendan Keogh for Cafferty (48 mins); Martin Grace for Murray (51 mins).
Referee: Cathal McSteen (Muinebheag)