Junior E Championship Final 2019: Round Tower 1-14 v Na Fianna 2-10, O’Toole Park, Saturday 5th October 2019
Following a 13 year absence, Championship silverware has returned to Round Tower hurlers. Delivered in the toughest conditions, Round Tower Junior Hurlers dug deep into their reserves to bring home the Junior E Hurling Championship. Our last hurling Championship success was delivered at Inter level in 2006. You’ve go to back to 1998 for our last Junior Championship win. And the wait for the end did not prove easy. It took an injury time strike by substitute Eoin Ryan to give us a deserved single point victory.
The talk before the match was of the heavy downpour and the effect a game previously had upon the O’Toole Park pitch. But there was no room for dwelling and Towers went a point up within a minute. Conor Harte in midfield displayed a deft touch and full forward Alan Keogh controlled and struck our first point. Na Fianna leveled with a point before Aidan Smith and Peter Nyhan combined to create an opening for Keogh. His initial strike was blocked but possession was recycled to Chris Kavanagh to turn and put it between the posts. Again Na Fianna leveled and again we responded. Kavanagh won on the 40 and he offloaded to the advancing Niall Corless. The foul on him led to Kavanagh converting the placed ball for his second point. Towers were gaining a stranglehold on the game. Fergal McDonagh, who was excellent throughout, was commanding the Towers 40 and we almost registered the first goal when a drive in was flicked across the goal. McDonagh then drove a free into the 21 and it was worked back for Matthew McLoughlin to point from the 50. A great block by Harte then led to Darren Gilligan breaking inside and putting us three clear. Nyhan then turned the screw further midway thru the half with a superb point delivered from the Towers half back line. But the northside team displayed great resolve. Three frees and one from play brought them level six minutes before the break. Towers responded. Nyhan cleverly found Gilligan in space and he drove into the inside forwards. Kavanagh fielded in the air and turned to strike over. Na Fianna drew even for the forth time in the match when a short Towers puck out led to concession of a point. Deservedly we went in ahead at the break when a scramble on the Na Fianna 21 resulted in Gilligan passing cleverly to Eoin McManus away from the bedlam and he registered our eight point.
The first serious setback arrived two minutes into the second half when a Na Fianna strike for goal deflected past keeper Declan Rafferty. Towers responded. Corless charged towards goal but was crowded out. The next play saw McManus, McLoughlin Gilligan and Nyhan create an opening for Keogh whose effort was caught but then dropped by the keeper. The ball was worked to Tom Cannon on the 40 and he reduced the deficit to one. And the strong response to the early concession of the goal was further enforced six minutes into the half. Cannon offloaded to Corless who carried for 30 metres before laying off to Kavanagh. He struck across the keeper low into his net. We almost notched our second when Gilligan’s long ball was fumbled and Keogh’s strike from the ground was cleared off the line. Na Fianna capitalised on the good fortune to level. But Corless again drove at the Na Fianna rearguard and substitute Shane Byrne was on hand to strike our tenth point. Again the game was drawn level and again Corless stepped up to the mantle, making inroads once again. His run led to Cannon spinning to strike his second. But with nine to go another significant setback. It looked a push on corner-back Shane Cross and ultimately it led to the second goal of the game for Na Fianna, a low strike to the left corner giving Rafferty no chance. Towers went forward again but Na Fianna pressure led to two attacks not materialising in a score. The third did. Nyhan was fouled and the subsequent free dropped short but Gilligan retrieved to drive over. Nyhan again was influential, driving into the forwards and substitute Shane Young released to Gilligan and he broke free from the tackle to shoot the equaliser on the 30 minute mark. Towers had the impetus moving into injury time. Kavanagh stroked a sideline up the line and amid the frenetic scramble for possession Corless muscled onto the ball and was pushed over. Kavanagh’s free from the sideline was batted away by the keeper but substitute Eoin Ryan seized upon the break and spun before striking between the posts. There was one final opportunity for Na Fianna but full back John Weafer handled superbly before clearing.
Congratulations to the team and management for bringing Championship glory back to the club. The hope is the Inters can follow it up with Championship success Wednesday night, 9th October, when they play Clontarf in the Intermediate Championship Final in Parnell Park at 7.30pm. Support is urged for the lads.
Round Tower: Declan Rafferty, Adam Carberry (c), John Weafer, Martin Doyle, Eoin McManus, Fergal McDonagh, Peter Nyhan, Conor Harte, Matthew McLoughlin, Darren Gilligan, Niall Corless, Tom Cannon, Aidan Smith, Alan Keogh, Chris Kavanagh. Niall Byrne, Shane Cross, Eoin Ryan, Keith Murray, Ian Church, Donnacha Rafferty, Adam Clarke, Liam Gleeson, Ruaraí Keogh, Shane Young, Simon Nevin