Under-14 Hurling County Championship Final
Dripsey 4-14 St James’ 3-4
The under-14 hurlers took centre-stage for St James’ this week, playing in the county (D) final on Sunday. Their opponents, the up-and-coming Dripsey, took the spoils, but not before being pressed very hard by the determined young hurlers of St James’, all of whom bar two are in their first year at under-14, with six of them still under twelve. The final score indicates just how strong a side Dripsey is, yet St James’ can derive much encouragement from having kept the score level until half-time, for driving on and finding scores even when Dripsey had built up a big lead, and for some fine hurling throughout.
The superb James Taylor scored three of St James’ four points, including two from very well-taken frees. Joseph O’Sullivan and Cian McPeake ensured a steady supply of ball to the attackers, chief among them Seán O’Reilly, who repeatedly left defenders bewildered by his ability to turn on a sixpence, and whose haul of a point and a goal would have been more but for the saves made by Dripsey’s brilliant keeper. Jack Oates scored a welcome goal from long distance, and though the Dripsey keeper was blinded by the sun, they all count. With time short, team captain Peter Walsh lifted spirits with a magnificent goal that was the least he deserved for a game in which he showed just how hard a worker and how good a hurler he is (the man of the match, by the reckoning of many spectators).
Peter Whelton in goal for St James’ could not be faulted for any of the goals, and showed an ability to take care of loose ball around the box. The keeper received a lot of assistance from Eoin Lombard and Conor Scully, as well as from the aforementioned Peter Walsh, who bravely prevented a goal by stopping a very hard-hit close-in free. The youngest players for St James’ – Conor Hayes, Seán White, Daniel O’Driscoll, Pádraig O’Donovan, Ciarán Whelband and Eoin Lombard – each put in a committed effort on what was a big stage, and gave a good indication of how well this team might fare next year. Alan Butler, who played such a big part in the St James’ South-West championship success, was sorely missed on Sunday after pulling out due to sickness.
Panel: Peter Whelton, Eoin Lombard, Peter Walsh 1-0, Conor Scully, Cian McPeake, Joseph O’Sullivan, James Taylor 0-3 (2 frees), Seán White, Jack Oates 1-0, Daniel O’Driscoll, Conor Hayes, Seán O’Reilly 1-1, Pádraig O’Donovan, Ciarán Whelband
Junior B (C) Football Championship
St James’ 2-9 Clonakilty 1-9
A last-minute goal propelled the junior B footballers into the championship final after a nail-biting second half during which St James’ were reduced to fourteen men yet held on and ultimately grabbed the winner.
The win was doubly remarkable given that full forward Finbarr McCarthy had suffered a serious injury to a finger just a minute into the game and had to be taken into Clon for treatment. His departure from the scene was ominous given his point-scoring prowess, particularly from frees. Yet the team displayed great maturity by quickly reorganising and driving on, as proven by the half-time tally of 1-8 – all but one from open play.
Clonakilty were first to score, from a free (all but three of their scores were to come from frees and a penalty). James Hayes’ put the first point on the board for St James’ from a well-taken free that signalled his willingness to assume responsibility for frees. Michael Santry scored St James’ second point (the first of his eventual tally of three) courtesy of a good pass from Garrett Lombard. Clon then clocked up another two points but were not to score again for the rest of the half. St James’, by contrast, were just getting going, and pinned Clon back whilst kicking the ball over the bar for six points and under the same bar for a goal.
Garrett Lombard was again the provider when Shane Field found space to hammer home the goal, and both players were very active in the front lines as other St James’ players stepped up for their scores: Santry with a nice strike, Niall Evans after a James Hayes shot rebounded off the bar, Hayes himself with a fisted point, Conor Hegarty after a quick turn and well-aimed shot, Hayser once more from forty yards and – just before half time – Santry again, with time and space to spare.
The second half got underway with an early point from James Hayes – again, from a free. Clonakilty were by now eight points in arrears, but suddenly the meaning of their half-time team talk began to dawn on them and they scored a goal and two points. In an otherwise clean match, an off-the-ball incident then resulted in St James’ being reduced to fourteen men. Clon couldn’t believe their luck, and set about channelling it into scores. However, St James’ refused to buckle, with Jonathan O’Donovan martialling the defence to ensure that Clon got no easy scores. Corner backs Thomas Nyhan and Eoin Feen both came into their own, as did the half backs, with Denis Fitzpatrick particularly effective. The Clon pressure nevertheless paid dividends, and they were able to level the game at 1-9 each with only two minutes left to play.
St James’ perseverance paid off with a last-minute penalty awarded when James Hayes was floored in the box. St James’ had not scored for twenty-seven minutes, but Hayes hadn’t forgotten how it’s done. A point would have been the safest option, but Hayser has scored umpteen penalties before this one, and duly took the brave option and stuck it in the net. Game over. Usually it would be, but Clon threw everything they had into one last attack and were only denied a goal by, first, a great save by Brian O’Donovan in goal (his second important save of the game), and then by centre forward Michael Santry (a goalkeeper in his other life) who had retreated to the goal line where he made the critical last-gasp save that meant a place in the final for St James’ (against O’Donovan Rossa) and curtains for Clonakilty.
Finbarr McCarthy returned from South Doc in time for the final moments of the game, and despite his painful injury his delight with the victory was obvious.
Panel: Brian O’Donovan, Thomas Nyhan, Jonathan O’Donovan, Eoin Feen, Peter Barrett, Denis Fitzpatrick, Connie Leahy, Garrett Lombard, Shane Field 1-0, Niall Barrett, Michael Santry 0-3, Niall Evans 0-1, Finbarr McCarthy, Conor Hegarty 0-1, James Hayes 1-4, Kevin Kearns, Shane O’Connell, Reuben O’Hea, Diarmuid Keohane
Junior A Football League
St James’ 1-10 Urhan 1-10
St James’ junior A footballers showed there is life after the championship by putting in a good effort in last Sunday’s league meeting with Urhan. The game was drawn but the selectors were content with the performance of the team as the match provided an opportunity to test several players who have featured in the junior B side and who were due to play championship later in the week. Encouragingly, several of St James’ points and their goal were scored by these players: two points from Michael Santry (one a fabulous score from close to the corner flag), one from Tadhg Casey, and a goal and three points from the excellent Finbarr McCarthy (all from place kicks, including the goal, which was fired in from a line ball). Eoin Feen at corner back also impressed. Kieran O’Donovan and Paul O’Sullivan marked their return from foreign adventures with scores that served as reminders of just how much they were missed.
Panel: Diarmuid O’Donovan, Eoin Deasy, Seamus McCarthy, Eoin Feen, Mark O’Brien, Micheál McCarthy (B), James O’Sullivan, Kevin O’Brien, Kieran O’Donovan 0-1, Mark Evans 0-1, Michael Santry 0-2, Tadhg Casey 0-1, Paul O’Sulivan 0-2, Finbarr McCarthy 1-3, Conor Hegarty, Jonathan O’Donovan
Under-16 Hurling Championship
St James’ 5-21 Caheragh 0-1
The under-16 hurlers strolled into the final of this year’s championship by completely overwhelming Caheragh in last week’s semi-final. Though goalkeeper Peter Walsh was called on to make a few vital saves, Caheragh’s only score was sandwiched between St James’ initial score of 1-13 and their subsequent four goals and seven points.
Panel: Peter Walsh, Brandon Creagh, Adam Ahern, Aaron Hayes 0-1, Seán O’Connor 0-1, Brian Lombard 0-4, Shaun Goggin 0-6, James Taylor 0-3, Kevin Horan 1-5, Dylan Twomey-O’Sullivan 1-1, Seán O’Reilly, Ciarán O’Donovan 2-0, Jack Oates 1-0, Cian McPeake