Naas win fourth successive U21 Hurling Championship

Robert Cribbin

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Robert Cribbin

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Naas win fourth successive U21 Hurling Championship

Simon Leacy and Shane Ryan lift the Under 21 Hurling Trophy after Naas's victory over Eire Og Corrachoill on Sunday. Photo: Kildare GAA

Naas 2-19

Éire Óg Corra Choill 0-11

Haven Hire U21 ‘A Hurling Championship Final

By Ian Baker

In winning their fourth successive U21 Hurling Championship, Naas hurlers also won their fifth Kildare Hurling Championship title of the year in St. Conleth’s Park on Sunday afternoon.

Naas had this final wrapped-up in a mere nine minutes, scoring nine points without replay. Al Bergin, Ian Blackburne (2), Kevin Aherne, Harry Carroll (2), Shane Ryan and Cathal Dowling gave Naas a 0-9 - nil lead, and with that their fifth hurling Championship of 2019.

If any of the other titles were contestable, the U21 Hurling Final was also going to be a coronation rather than a contest. As their Senior team is still in their Leinster competition, and training, no team in the county could have stopped Naas’s four in a row and Drive for Five.

Cruising through the game with their smattering of Senior players playing to the fore, Naas dominated this final from the first minute and then slowly substituted their key players as the game wound down.

Cathal Dowling, James Burke, Shane Ryan, Simon Leacy and Rian Boran gave consummate performances in Naas’ fourth U21 title win, allowing substitutes like James McKeon, Ben O’Reilly and David Murphy to finish Éire Óg Corra Choill off.        

Despite Liam Dempsey opening Éire Óg Corra Choill’s account in the tenth-minute with a free, only scoring a further ’65 by half-time meant that the game was competitively over by that stage.         

Brian Tobin scored a 13th minute goal, following the trajectory of a Blackburne shot, but with Blackburne and Ronan McGrath receiving red cards for an off the ball incident, the space only helped Naas.       

As Tobin, Aherne and Burke revelled given the time and space, Naas led 1-14 – 0-2 at half-time.         

Éire Óg Corra Choill were more competitive in the second-half, where Dempsey outscored Ryan in the opening minutes. Naas goalkeeper Jeff Keane also needed to be smart to deny substitute Daragh O’Shaughnessy.       

 But just as Éire Óg Corra Choill found some momentum, the reshuffle in space and positioning saw Naas corner-back Niall Murphy in an advanced role.        

Flicked into his path by Ben O’Reilly, Murphy coolly hit the net, giving Naas an unassailable 2-15 – 0-4 lead.

Understandably, Naas grew disillusioned with the game, and Éire Óg Corra Choill found some more space and time on the ball. Keeping an eye on their Senior game against Tullaroan this Saturday Naas whipped off many of their Senior players.

Conor Kielty and substitute Niall Tierney scored two successively fine points by the 50th minute as Sean MacDonnacha responded with a well-taken effort from midfield.

As substitute Daragh O’Shaughnessy, Kielty and Dempsey thankfully concluded a cold and difficult game to watch with rallying points, Naas effortlessly and almost pointlessly claimed their fifth Hurling Championship of 2019.

Scorers – Naas – B Tobin 1-1; S Ryan 0-4 (f); N Murphy 1-0; J Burke 0-3 (f); H Carroll, J McKeon (f), I Blackburne and K Aherne 0-2 each; C Dowling and S MacDonnacha 0-1 each.

Éire Óg Corra Choill – L Dempsey 0-7 (2f, 3 ’65); C Kielty 0-2; N Tierney and D O’Shaughnessy 0-1 each.

NAAS: Jeff Keane; Ruairí Goodfellow, John McKeon, Niall Murphy; Simon Leacy, Rian Boran, Harry Carroll; Cathal Dowling, Sean MacDonnacha; James Burke, Ian Blackburne, Al Bergin; Shane Ryan, Kevin Aherne, Brian Tobin.

Subs: James McKeon for Dowling (h/t); Ben O’Reilly for Burke (h/t); Ciaran Kelleher for Leacy (45 mins); Ciaran Doyle and Sean Burke for Ryan and Keane (50).

ÉIRE ÓG CORRA CHOILL: Philip Tierney; Cathal Cribbin, Michael Begley, Daniel Murray; James Dolan, Paul Dolan, Ronan McGrath; Conor Kielty, Murray O’Byrne; Eoin O’Brien, Rory O’Neill, Liam Dempsey; Ollie O’Neill, Jack Higgins, Eoin Wilson.

Subs: Cormac Byrne for O’Neill (21 mins); Daragh O’Shaughnessy for Cribbin (h/t); Niall Tierney for O’Brien (46); Niall Mullally for Dempsey (62).

REFEREE: Fergus Devereux.