County Champions! Cobh u18Hurlers prove too good v Castlelyons 2015-10-08 21:02:00

Cobh Minor Hurlers prove too good for Castlelyons and Capture County Minor Hurling Championship

Castlelyons 2-13 Cobh 6-8

Cobh played Castlelyons in the County 12-a-side Minor Hurling Final in Castlemartyr in glorious sunshine and on a well prepared pitch.  We knew this game would be tough as we are familiar with this Castlelyons team having played them several times over the years at underage level. Castlelyons have several players who have represented Cork at underage level, and their club at Intermediate and Imokilly at senior level, but our lads were up for the challenge.

It was also a repeat of the Eastern Region Minor Final which Castlelyons had won narrowly just two weeks earlier after a great game. We had learned a lot from our Eastern Region defeat. We had decided to keep the ball to the wings where possible, from puck outs and when attacking, and to isolate our full forward in an effort to bag some goals. Several of our central players also had special instructions to closely watch a number of Castlelyons players who had caused us a lot of problems in the East Final.

Within a few minutes we got the start we had hoped for, when wing forward Sean Hilliard, rounded his marker, drew the full back and delivered a pass to Odhran Kidney Power who raised a loud cheer from the large Cobh crowd when he shook the net with his first attempt of the game. A pointed free by Aaron Dolan put us 4 points clear within the first 5 minutes. But Castlelyons responded with a pointed free and a deceptive long range free which fell straight into our net. Cobh fought back and scored another point from Aaron Dolan. Castlelyons again levelled the game with a point before another Hilliard / Kidney Power combination raised a second green flag and put us 3 points ahead again.

We had expected a reshuffle by Castlelyons as our tactics were clearly beginning to cause them difficulty, but Castlelyons stuck to their original game plan. When Castlelyons dropped their full back to take their puck outs, we were able to capitalise on this by having an extra player around midfield for Castlelyons puck outs. Tight marking in our full back line by Cillian Histon and Jeff McCarthy meant that Castlelyons were limited to longer range efforts, and our wing backs Liam O’Keefe and Adam O’Donovan forced Castlelyons to play up the crowded centre channel.

Two Castlelyons points from play was followed by a strong solo run from midfield and Castlelyons went for goal. Cobh goalkeeper, John Gardiner made a great save initially but the ball broke to Castlelyons who struck the ball into the net to put Castlelyons ahead again. Cobh again fought back and another Aaron Dolan free and superb long range free from Padi Kearney levelled the game. Two more points from Castlelyons followed by a fourth Cobh pointed free from Aaron Dolan left Castlelyons ahead by just one point at half time.

An early George Keating point levelled the game, and then Odhran Kidney Power struck for his third goal. This was quickly followed by two Castlelyons points. An attack down the left wing, with more great work from George Keating resulted in captain David O’Connor finding and unmarked Sean Hilliard in the penalty area and he bagged Cobh’s fourth goal and opened up a four point lead. Cobh then added points from David O’Connor and Keith Donachie to stretch their lead to six points.

Castlelyons committed to all-out attack but the Cobh defence were not found wanting. Ciaran Leahy more than broke even at mid-field against their key senior Imokilly player, whilst Adam O’Donovan and Gearoid Lynch led the half back defensive effort. Castlelyons moved their key player from mid-field to full forward but this threat was well managed by Nicolai Wilk. Goalkeeper John Gardiner made a number of vital saves, and the commitment of all our players was epitomised by Jeff McCarthy’s inspirational (and hurleyless) brave block on a Castlelyons point attempt. Four pointed frees for Castlelyons left just two points in it with ten minutes remaining, but Castlelyons always looked vulnerable when Cobh attacked, and another (fourth) Odhran Kidney Power goal stretched the lead back out to five points. Dylan Higgins immediately announced his introduction by winning a great high catch, and launched another Cobh attach. Castlelyons scored a fine (but disputed) point from a side line ball to reduce the margin to just four points. But Odhran Kidney Power was not yet finished and he bagged his fifth goal in the final minute to put us 7 points ahead, silencing the Castlelyons crowd and putting the game beyond doubt.

COBH PANEL : John Gardiner, Keith Donachie, Cillian Histon, David O’Connor, Liam O’Keefe, Pádí Kearney, Ryan Hickey, Niall Spriggs, Adam O'Donovan, Gearoid Lynch, Jeffrey McCarthy, Sean Hilliard, Ciaran Leahy, Edward Lane, Odhran Kidney-Power, Dylan Higgins, Aaron Dolan, George Keating, Pa Carey, Nickolai Wilk, Dominic Roche, Jack O’Donnovan

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