St Patrick’s 6-5
Cumann Pheadaír Naofa 2-2
The score line of this fixture does not do justice to the spirit displayed by the young hurlers from Warrenpoint. Playing three 20 minutes’ periods on a soft and damp sod on a still and dry evening in Ballyvarley Cumann Pheadaír Naofa had travelled to the Scarva road side hoping with a bare eleven players and missing last year’s top scorer Jarlath Donnelly they could at least give a much bigger and experienced St Patrick’s side a good run for their money.
With ten minutes gone in the first period of the match Cumann Pheadaír Naofa were impressing the many red & white supporters of the Banbridge side as Raurí McIntyre and Oran Murney were a pleasure to watch in midfield, showing skills far beyond their years the two P7 lads were controlling events in the middle third of the field as St Pat’s tried to move the sliotar down to the field. In defense Micky Keohane and Conaire McMahon were proving to be a failed mission for any red & white attack, backed up by Jay Stewart, playing in his first league hurling match for the blue jersey the lad did his side proud over the course of the day.
With the frenetic nature of the play and the physically bigger home side starting impress their superiority it was a rather fortunate goal that saw them break the deadlock after 20 minutes. Not to let all the hard work of debutante Sean Crawford and Sean Greenan it was a great team effort that resulted in Cumann Pheadaír Naofa being awarded a free fifty metres out that saw McIntyre stroke the sliotar over for Cumann Pheadaír Naofa first score.
With the start of the second period it was as an absolute screamer of a goal from the diminutive Ronan McShane get the young blues back into this competitive game, Ronan met a through ball from Oran Murney to pull first time and beat two St Pat’s defenders as the sliotar flew in to the net and which saw visitors back in the hunt as St Pats failed to score in the second period of play. A free from Raurí saw the point take the lead. In the Cumann Pheadaír Naofa rearguard Oisín Gambold and Mickey Keohane, two of the smallest players on the field, were outstanding and showed absolute courage and fearlessness against much bigger opposition and in true GAA fashion showed that often smaller players can get the better of their markers.
Up front the blues had a hearty and fearless corner forward, following in the McGivern family tradition in young Oisín, who was at the end of several blues attacks, only to be thwarted by the St Pats full back of twice his size.
Going into the third period the visitors were surprising one point leaders, but within three minutes of the resumption of play an apparent innocuous challenge on Oran Murney as he burst past two St Pats markers resulted in a sickening blow to the team as he dropped with a blow to the knee. Cumann Pheadaír Naofa, now down a player and with no replacements had to make several positional changes to the team structure which resulted in a drastic change in team fortunes. Now playing on the back foot, Cumann Pheadaír Naofa found themselves four goals down as the home side pressed their advantage and forged forward and seemed to be able to score with every possession and hence gain their victory in the opening fixture of the season.
Cumann Pheadaír Naofa will now face a tough game at home next week to Liatroim and the boys would really appreciate as the sixteenth man from the sidelines.
Team: Sean Crawford, Oisín Gambold, Michael Keohane, Oisín McGivern, Raurí McIntyre 1-2, Conaire McMahon, Rónan McShane 1-0, Oran Murney, Jay Stewart, Tiernan Trainor