Under-14 Hurling Championship (29th June, Dunmanway)
St James’ 5-12 Iveleary 5-6
The under-14 hurlers’ encounter with Iveleary in the championship semi-final was an epic, with St James’ clinching the win with a six-point margin. Both teams displayed considerable hurling skills and total dedication, and Iveleary will be severely disappointed, having reduced their half-time deficit of ten points to just a single point midway through the second half. But despite huge pressure, St James’ never looked like relinquishing their hold on the lead, and duly pulled away with points and a last-minute goal to ensure victory and a place in the final.
Conor Hayes was first to score for St James’, firing the ball into the net after receiving a perfect pass from Daniel O’Driscoll, whose fifty-metre solo was to be a recurring theme of the game. Following a brilliantly converted free from James Taylor, Seán O’Reilly notched up two points and a goal, the three-pointer made possible by Taylor’s pinpoint pass. Though Iveleary had by now managed a goal and a point, Jack Oates added to their misery with a goal and a point of his own that no doubt served to dispel any lingering memory of the misery he had been feeling when nursing an injury just minutes before. The third goal for St James’ was pure luck, with James Taylor’s long-range free finding the back of the net despite a crowded square. But luck had nothing to do with Taylor’s next two scores, nor with Jack Oates’ second point of the game, and St James’ went into the break with a good lead and plenty of optimism.
Iveleary, though down, were not out, and during the second half scored 3-4 against St James’ second-half tally of 1-6. Points for St James’ came from Seán O’Reilly and then three in a row from the outstanding James Taylor, with the hard-working Ciarán Whelband involved in the build-up to several of these scores. Nevertheless, scores by Iveleary brought them to within a point of St James’, and the game was suddenly in the balance.
Intense pressure was now brought to bear on the St James’ defence, but the keeper and back lines showed both steel and character. Goalkeeper Peter Whelton, though playing the game of his life, had temporarily relinquished his position, and it was his replacement, Jack Oates, who was called upon to keep Iveleary at bay during this critical time. Oates was not found wanting, and the catching skill he had displayed as an outfield player proved vital in preventing an Iveleary goal. Meanwhile, full-backs Pádraig O’Donovan and Seán White tormented the Iveleary forwards, whilst fellow defenders Eoin Lombard and Joseph O’Sullivan continued to win the ball and send it long.
A timely and well-taken point by Fionn McPeake of St James’ put a halt to Iveleary’s dash, and their fate was sealed when their final attack came to nought after Conor Scully refused to flinch as a close-in free was blasted with venom towards the goal, preferring instead to take the hit. Now fired up, St James’ secured victory with another Jack Oates point and a decisive Seán O’Reilly goal.
Panel: Peter Whelton, Pádraig O’Donovan, Seán White, Eoin Lombard, Conor Scully, Joseph O’Sullivan, Jack Oates (1-2), Ciarán Whelband, James Taylor (1-6), Daniel O’Driscoll, Seán O’Reilly (2-3), Conor Hayes (1-0), Fionn McPeake (0-1), Michael White
Junior A Hurling League (4th July 2012, Ardfield)
St James’ 1-12 Bandon 0-6
The junior-A hurlers won their final league fixture without too much difficulty, beating Bandon at home. Of the seven games played in the league, St James’ won three, lost two and drew two. Before Wednesday, Bandon had not lost in the league, so the win for St James’ takes on added significance in the run-up to championship (against Clonakilty in the quarter-final). Playing Bandon on a heavy pitch, St James’ built up a good first-half lead of 1-8 against just two points for Bandon, the goal having been scored by Kieran O’Donovan, and the points fired over by five different players. Bandon came back into the game in the second half, but their haul of four points was of no use since St James’ also scored four points, including fabulous long-range points by Kevin O’Brien, James O’Driscoll and Kieran O’Donovan. Bandon had a few shots at goal, but Conor Hegarty in goal twice denied them, on one occasion battling hard to win the sliotar before kicking it halfway up the pitch.
Panel: Conor Hegarty, Donnacha McCarthy, Finbarr McCarthy, Eoin Feen, Mark O’Brien, Paul O’Sullivan, James O’Sullivan, Kevin O’Brien (0-1), James O’Driscoll (0-1), Micheál McCarthy (B) (0-1), Seamus McCarthy (0-1), Kevin Kearns (0-4, 3 frees, 1 65), Mark Evans (0-1), Kieran O’Donovan (1-1), Micheál McCarthy (D), Brian O’Donovan, Kevin O’Leary, Joseph Collins, Tadhg Casey, John O’Sullivan, Shaun Goggin.
Junior A Football League (1st July 2012, Garnish)
St James' 2-14 Garnish 1-8
The junior-A footballers spent a large part of Sunday in transit to and from their league appointment with Garnish, but made the trip worthwhile with a 9-point win that took St James’ to third in the table (section 1 of three sections) and still in contention for the semi-finals. Conditions for the game were humid, and the temperature was raised a few degrees by the physical approach favoured by Garnish. A low-scoring first half ended in a tie, but in the second period St James’ got to grips with the opposition and built up a winning margin, though the final score masks how close the game actually was. Of particular note were the impressive kick-outs of Michael Santry during his stint in goal, and especially good performances from James O'Driscoll at centre back and by lively corner forward Mark Evans, who got some excellent scores.
Panel: Michael Santry, Fearghal Beamish, Micheál McCarthy (D), Tadhg Feen, James O'Sullivan, James O'Driscoll, Seamus McCarthy, Kieran O'Donovan, Seán Scully, Conor Hegarty, Donnacha McCarthy, Micheál McCarthy (B), Frank Hayes, Finbarr McCarthy, Mark Evans, James Hayes, Eoin Feen, David Hayes, Mark O'Brien, Pa Keohane.