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Ballinkillen's U-16 Hurlers show the way

posted 27 Nov 2015, 16:14 by Ballinkillen Gaa   [ updated 8 Dec 2015, 14:54 ]

By Kieran Murphy, The Carlow Nationalist

Seldom has an underage championship victory been celebrated with such enthusiasm. Well, on reflection, perhaps Fenagh’s U14 football success last season was. The parallels between the two are remarkable. From the same parish, serious work had gone in to help buck a losing trend. Dedication and hard work doesn’t always get rewarded but this was not the case here where Ballinkillen won the U16 hurling championship in Netwatch Cullen Park on Saturday.

What is even more pleasing about this particular victory was the nature of the Ballinkillen response when they conceded goals which could have knocked the stuffing out of them.

Rangers hit them hard in the opening minutes and after Ciaran Kavanagh had completed the donkey work, Jack Flood found the back of the net.

With Jon Nolan converting two frees and points from Dean Tobin and Matthew Kavanagh, it looked as if Rangers were set to pull away. Perhaps there was a touch of good luck to the Ballinkillen goal but these are the breaks you get. Ciaran Whelan’s long free flew high into the net and Ballinkillen were back in business. Padraig Hynes’ two points from play left the minimum in it at 1-4 to 1—3 at the interval.

Rangers looked to be edging it in the third quarter but they could never put Ballinkillen away where Ciaran Whelan pulled the strings.

It was nip and tuck. The sides were level on two occasions in the opening 10 minutes of the half. After Ballinkillen’s Liam McGuill was denied a free and kicked wide, a Nolan placed ball stretched Rangers lead to two points. After those moments of drama, Ballinkillen could have been forgiven if they had felt they were heading to an other gallant defeat.

They hit back and with just over 10 minutes to go, Shane Nolan took possession 25 metres out.His shot was low and hard for the lead goal.

All his work was undone almost immediately when Eoin Fenlon shipped some heavy tackles, created the space and got in a shot himself. His effort was blocked but Nolan forced the ball over the line. Ballinkillen had to start all over again. Ciaran Wheian was immense in the closing minutes. His 40 metre run drew a free which he pointed after Hynes had landed one from play.

Both sides had goal chances in the final minutes but Ballinkillen held firm. The Halloween celebrations will have had an extra-dimension in Ballinkillen. That's for sure!

Conor Treacy; Niall Hickey, Sean Cummins, Eoin Whelan; Cormac Lomax, Eoin Kavanagh, Barry Hickey; Ciaran
Whelan (capt.) (1—6, 1—5 frees), Padraig Hynes (0—4); Shane Nolan (1-1), Ciaran Dowling, Niall Whelan; Mattie O’Leary, Liam McGuill, Cillian Redmond (Man-of-the-match) Subs: Jack Treacy, Patrick Kavanagh, Mark Foley, Jack McLoughlin, Kyle Harenburg, Louis Brennan, Dan Sheehan.

Mentors: John Dowling, Tommy Cummins, John Whelan, Nicky Roberts, Tommy Dowling, Sean Sheehan, Seanie Whelan

Mount Leinster Rangers: James Quinn; Sean Murphy, Jack Ryan, Niall Canning; Jack Doyle, Rory Joyce, Tony Lawlor (0-1); Colm Malone, Dean Tobin (0-1); Jon Nolan (1-4, 0-4 frees), Jack Flood (1-0), Bernard Scully; Eoin Fenlon (O-1), Matthew Kavanagh (0-2), Ciaran Kavanagh. Subs: Jason McQuail for Flood (54 mins), Darragh O’Toole, Kieran Liam Lawlor, Conor Joyce, Tom Huff, Thomas Lawlor, John Quinn, Martin Fenlon, Paddy Byrne.

Referee: Kieran Kelly (Fighting Cocks).

Fact: There were seven brothers on the Ballinkillen panel (Ciaran, Niall and Eoin Whelan, Barry and Niall Hickey, Eoin and Patrick Kavanagh), 6 taking to the field on the day.