Warwickshire Senior Hurling Champions 2011: Fullen Gaels
Sunday 9 October 2011
Gaels storm their way to Warwickshire title
Fullen Gaels 2-14 v 1-10 John Mitchel’s
Fullen Gaels retained the Warwickshire Hurling Championship crown with a seven-point victory over John Mitchel’s at Pairc na hÉireann on Sunday. A fine display of finishing by corner-forward Kevin Hayes proved the cornerstone for the Lancashire side that staved off a comeback by Mitchel’s towards the end of the opening half to stretch out of sight in the second as Hayes landed a crucial second goal.
Despite an excellent opening score from corner-forward Des Kelly, Mitchel’s were placed on the back foot as Gaels forced their way into the lead early on. With Raymond McEntee driving a fifty-metre effort high over the bar and Hayes making no mistake from both open play and set piece shots on goal, Gaels were starting to make inroads on the score sheet. Michael O’Hara was to play a pivotal role throughout for Mitchel’s finishing the game as their top scorer, yet despite landing two frees it was Kevin Codd who was to nudge Gaels ahead with a clinically taken free from distance. Both sides were looking to establish some supremacy in possession but a relatively open first-half saw plenty of open and fast-paced periods of play. Midway through the half another spell of possession in the full-forward ranks saw Padraig McHugh feed an advancing Hayes and his strike from an acute angle beat Mike Cremin to nestle into the far corner of the Mitchel’s net.
With their tails up, two further points from full-forward Conor Cafferkey and Codd once more pushed Gaels into a six-point advantage. However, with time beginning to run out before the half-time whistle Mitchel’s sprang into life with a rousing final ten minutes. A free awarded in front of goal fifteen metres out presented O’Hara with the opportunity to go for goal and he made no mistake with a fiercely struck shot that found its way past the goal line defence. With both sides reduced to fourteen on the half-hour mark for an off the ball tussle between Ciaran Vaughan and Pauric Crehan, a tremendous point from a tricky acute angle by Kelly reduced the margin to two points to leave Mitchels firmly in the hunt at the interval. At the restart though, Gaels restored their grip on the game as they went in search of their second goal; a sideline cut deflected towards goal by Cafferkey required a spectacular diving save from Cremin to keep Gaels at bay, however shortly afterwards a fine move through the middle of the field provided the sprinting Hayes with enough space to veer towards goal and shoot high into the roof of the net.
With the margin back out to five Mitchel’s sought a quick retaliation as a persistent Damien Coffey sent a thirty-metre effort over John Farrell’s crossbar. Farrell was called into action soon after as Mitchel’s went looking for a second goal of their own, the Gaels goalkeeper denying John Bergin from finding the back of the net. A superb point by wing-forward McEntee refocused Gaels in attack but with O’Hara making no mistake in landing two frees in quick succession Mitchel’s were threatening to force their way back towards parity.
Yet as the half wore on, it was Gaels who were to take a firm grip and score six points before reply. With Seamus Carey soloing close to the end line up top for Gaels, a rasping drive towards goal saw Cremin produce another spectacular save diving high to his right to parry the effort away to safety. However, momentum was now with the Lancashire side who had Brendan Griffiths to thank for a fifty-metre belter that dissected the posts before Alan Morrissey popped up from midfield to extend his side’s lead to five. Another close range conversion by Cafferkey kept the scoreboard ticking over and with the ever available Hayes fielding to hook two points from play over the bar the lead was steadily increasing; once Carey had popped a fantastic touchline strike over the bar on the hour mark, the lead was extended to nine.
Mitchel’s refused to wilt and scrapped for possession in the forwards, however they were unable to find their range until Coffey fizzed a long range shot over the bar. With time starting to run out Mitchel’s looked to feed their full-forwards in order to find a vital goal, however some resolute defending from Gaels meant they could only manage two further points from the efforts of corner-forward O’Hara, one a superb strike from distance. In the end it was Hayes who provided the last meaningful say as he swivelled in possession to sky another effort high and true over the bar, capping a fine afternoon’s work for Gaels.
After the game, Fullen Gaels captain Kevin Codd paid tribute to the efforts put in at the club over the course of the season and the afternoon’s opponents John Mitchel’s: “I’m delighted for the team, last year was great for us but it’s great to be back here today and win again. Thanks to everyone involved, all the players have trained hard all year, credit to Stan (Murray-Hession) and all the trainers for all their efforts as well as our sponsors too.
I’d like to thank John Mitchel’s as well, they are a tough bunch of lads and though it might be the last year for some of them it’s been a pleasure to play against them once more.”
Player of the match: Kevin Hayes (Fullen Gaels)
Fullen Gaels: K Hayes (2-5); R McEntee, K Codd, C Cafferkey (all 0-2); B Griffiths, A Morrissey, S Carey (all 0-1).
John Mitchel’s: M O’Hara (1-6); D Kelly, D Coffey (both 0-2).
Fullen Gaels: J Farrell; B Griffiths, D Neylon, C Vaughan; R Widdell, J O’Shaughnessy, E Hansberry; K Codd, A Morrissey; C Maskey, S Carey, R McEntee; K Hayes, C Cafferkey, P McHugh.
John Mitchel’s: M Cremin; A Doyle, N Barron, C Brough; D Murphy, J Bergin, S Brough; J O’Dwyer, P Healy; P Crehan, S Ahern, J O’Shea; D Kelly, E Cahill, M O’Hara. Subs: D Coffey (for Doyle 30), M Lyons (for O’Shea 35), D Leonard (for Ahern 50), S Nash (for Kelly 60).
Referee: P Hoey