Under 15 C Championship Final: Round Tower 1-7 v Whitehall Colmcille 1-10. St Peregine’s, Blakestown, Sunday 22nd October 2017.
A Championship final of two halves brought a bitterly disappointing outcome for our Under 15 Hurlers, writes Mick McGlynn. Having delivered a commanding opening 30 minutes, the Towers lads will feel the final was there for the taking. But they encountered an improved Whitehall side in the second half that were also abetted by a considerable wind advantage.
Towers four point advantage at half-time – a 0-6 v 0-2 – would have offered greater security had they not conceded Whitehall’s only two points of the half very late into the opening period. Two minutes were on the clock when midfielder Conor Morrow broke free from a puck-out and struck on the run from the right. Towers tenacity in defence was evident from the off. Whitehall attackers were consistently pressurised and just did not have the freedom for clean strikes at goal. They had struck two wides before the seven minute mark when their midfielder Ryan Swan broke into inside forwards but pressure from Towers forced his strike wide. Shane Morrow was commanding at full back, winning two crucial high balls in the opening ten minutes. His second led to a Towers attack and while Whitehall initially stifled, Ciaran Courtney and Ben English pressure led to a dispossession and the latter pointing. A brilliant flick by Senan Walsh created an opportunity for Courtney but his low strike went narrowly wide. Again Courtney and English were to the fore in pressurising and Michael Broderick was the beneficiary to point our third. The advantage gained in the first quarter would have been wiped but for an outstanding save by goalkeeper Matthew O’Meara. Whitehall’s Alex Murray cut inside and his low strike was brilliantly flicked away by the outstretched hurl of O’Meara. Towers capitalized, with further pressure leading to a Whitehall half back being penalised for over-carrying. Walsh converted the free. And the momentum gained further. Adam Byrne carried from the half-backs and flicked to Morrow. He jinked inside before releasing Gareth O’Brien and he converted on the run. Towers won the subsequent puck-out and Killian McDonnell’s flick released English and he struck between the posts. But the pendulum swung towards Whitehall. Morrow won again in the air and O’Meara pulled off another brilliant stop. On this occasion the strike was towards the top right corner but he stretched the hurl to deny a crucial breakthrough for the northsiders. Whitehall’s first score did arrive on the 28 minute mark from a free. Again O’Meara denied a certain goal. He advanced on an advancing attacker to block the strike that was to hit the net. The subsequent play brought a free and point for Whitehall, the last of the half.
Within two minutes of the second period the deficit was narrowed to a goal, with substitute Daniel Chebac striking for Whitehall. Sean McNabb struck narrowly wider for Towers after brilliantly winning a 50/50. Morrow then won a O’Meara puck out and played inside to English. A foul on him enabled Walsh strike successfully from distance. But Whitehall then gathered momentum. Two points were struck within a minute and a Towers wide was followed by a Derry Noonan point for Whitehall. He struck again moments later and on the 42 minute mark they edged clear for the first time with another Noonan effort. Their substitute Alex Tyrell edged them two clear. Towers were by no means out of the game. But they were stifled by a strong Whitehall full-back line, with them consistently winning the tussels in the air and on the ground during the second period. O’Brien had a narrow wide before a Whitehall goal arrived with ten minutes remaining. The low strike from the left gave O’Meara no chance. A point from a free quickly followed. Towers fought to get back into the game, but Whitehall defended resolutely. Walsh did break inside from a breaking high ball and was pulled to the ground. He picked himself to strike the penalty successfully low to the keepers right. He again struck for goal from a free with a minute remaining but Whitehall had numbers in force to block and clear. Time was called by the referee. Bitter disappointment for the lads and their mentors but immense credit to all involved for reaching a county final and falling narrowly short.
Round Tower: Matthew O’Meara, Liam O’Sulleabhain, Shane Morrow, Harry Kelly, Adam Byrne, Stephen Barry, Callum Ó Caoimh, Conor Morrow, Sean McNabb, Senan Walsh, Ciaran Courtney, Gareth O’Brien, Michael Broderick, Ben English, Luke Geraghty, Seán O’Reilly, Killian McDonnell, George Andronic, Robert Moore, Lee Proctor, Craig Reilly, Rian Callanan.