Cumann Pheadaír Naofa 5-10
Cumann Pheadaír Naofa were crowned County Shield Champions in Ballela this evening. County Board vice-chairman John Devaney presented captain Tiernan Kelly with the shield to complete the unique treble, after having already won the county Feile na nGael and League Div2 titles earlier this summer.
The game was a thrilling encounter from start to finish with neither team able to break the deadlock until Oran Murney opened the scoring in the eighth minute. The first half was a low scoring affair and when Liam O’Connor soloed through the heart of the Castlewellan defence and flash the sliotar to the net for the opening goal of the game, after his side had registered a succession of wides, there was a massive sigh of relieve from the blues bench, who knew had Castlewellan got the opening goal minutes earlier it could have been a different story. Castlewellan were stubborn and refused to let this upset them, as their danger man Tiernan Connelly replied with a wonderful long-range point and within a minute another long-range strike struck the crossbar with the rebound being batted to the net. Oran Murney tapped over a close in free minutes later, only to see Castlewellan reply within seconds of the puc out to bring it back to a single point game once more. Castlewellan were proving to be a hard nut to crack and although Warrenpoint had the majority of possession, it was their standout player Connelly who threatened to spoil the party for the blues as his strong pacy runs down the middle kept Castlewellan within touching distance of their opponents. With just three minutes left Darragh Austin found himself unmarked and he tapped the sliotar over the crossbar from close range. Castlewellan closed out the half with the last score, a pointed free to see the half score Cumann Pheadaír Naofa 1-4 Castlewellan 1-3.
With only the bare minimum between these two sides, Murney opened the scoring two minutes in with a close in free. When Ronan McShane was up ended seconds later with just the keeper to beat O’Connor’s penalty flew over the crossbar, but Tiernan Connelly’s point a minute later kept Castlewellan within striking distance of the blues. Warrenpoint finally got a bit of breathing space a minute later when their inspirational captain Tiernan Kelly fielded weak puc out, soloed through and drilled the sliotar to the top right-hand corner of the net. The young blues had hit a purple patch as over the next eight minutes they managed to score 1-3 without reply and were now firmly in the driving seat as young McShane started the period with his superb goal as the sliotar dropped to his feet after O’Connor’s half blocked attempt, he danced around his marker and from his weaker sided finished to the net. Murney added a pointed free, with McShane & Kelly adding further scores to push the blues lead out to a healthy eleven points. Castlewellan finally broke their dead period when Connelly soloed through the Warrenpoint defence and flashed the sliotar passed Tiernan Burns, seconds later his thirty-metre pointed free narrowed the gap to seven points with twelve minutes to play. Straight from the puc out O’Connor slipped the ball out in front of McShane, once he gathered possession the panic in the Castlewellan defence saw him being brought to the ground once more resulting in another penalty, which Murney fired into the top corner. Austin converted his own free, when he was fouled with six minutes left. With the game almost over O’Connor finished off a slick inter passing move that saw his low drive squirt under the advancing keeper for the final score of the day.
After all the jubilant celebrations County vice chairman John Devaney thanked both teams for an entertaining final, Ballela for the use of their pitch and referee Dan McCusker for officiating, before presenting the shield to Tiernan Kelly.
Team: T Burns, J Sweeney, M Campbell, S Crawford, C McMahon, O Ruane, T Kelly 1-1, D Austin 0-2, O Murney 1-5, L O’Connor 2-1, A McDonald, B Lock, M Keohane
M Duffy for Ruane, R McShane 1-1 for Keohane, Ruane for McDonald, S Greenan for McMahon, R McIntyre for Ruane, J Donnelly for Lock, O Gambold for O’Connor.