Clinical Keane hat-trick helps dominant Naas clinch U21 hurling title

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Clinical Keane hat-trick helps dominant Naas clinch U21 hurling title
By Patrick Ward 16:02 Sunday 2nd of December 2018

Naas 4-17

Éire Óg Corrachoill 0-14

Kildare U21 A Hurling Championship final

Naas had plenty to spare as they landed yet another title at U21 level when brushing aside Éire Óg Corrachoill in Newbridge on Saturday.

This game was played with a heart-breaking backdrop however, which consequentially meant that the result mattered very little in the grand scheme of things. Éire Óg Corrachoill laid to rest one of the members of their team during the week, and the loss of Cian Mullally to the club and the Caragh community is one that will be felt for some time. In a moving tribute before the game, players from both teams lined up alongside each other for a minute’s silence and laid Cian’s jersey out on the ground. It must have been an extremely emotional game for Éire Óg Corrachoill players and management to prepare for, but they showed huge heart and battling qualities throughout against a quality Naas team.

Jeff Keane's hat-trick helped pave the way for a Naas side that pretty much led from start to finish, while there were fine scoring contributions from Shane Ryan and Jack Sheridan along the way too.

Sheridan opened the scoring in the first minute as he belted over a fine point from long range, but his side were pegged back almost immediately when Conor Kielty stroked over a score in response.

It was a whirlwind start to the game as both sides looked vibrant in attack, and after 10 minutes it was finely poised at 1-5 to 0-4 in favour of the County Town side.

Sheridan nudged his team back in front with a well-taken point from a ’65, and then came Naas’ first big breakthrough as they rattled the Éire Óg Corrachoill net for the first time in the fifth minute. A good run by county senior hurler Shane Ryan provided the opening, and the ball eventually fell to Jeff Keane who showed his poaching instincts by scrambling the ball to the net.

After that, it was blow for blow for a few minutes as Cormack and Murray O’Byrne raised white flags for Éire Óg Corrachoill, while Ciaran Tobin and Conor Dowling kept Naas ticking away at the other end with a score apiece.

Cormack reduced the gap to four points with a tidy score, but Naas were beginning to overpower their opponents by the middle stages of the half and they found scores through Ryan and Sheridan as they began to make their dominance count. They could have had a second goal when Ryan blazed a powerful shot towards the roof of the net, but Philip Tierney got a strong stick to it and cleared the danger.

Sheridan landed a couple of points from play either side of a Liam Dempsey score, before Naas opened up a nine-point lead when Keane batted in their second goal. From then on it was always an uphill battle for Éire Óg Corrachoill, but they finished the half strongly to remain in some bit of contention.

Dempsey scored two points from frees before the short whistle and Cormack also knocked one over from play, but a fabulous piece of skill followed by a point from Ciaran Tobin ensured that Naas took a commanding 2-10 to 0-9 lead into the break.

The rain began to belt down relentlessly for the next 15 minutes as conditions in Newbridge deteriorated, and it must have been incredibly tough to play hurling as the clouds darkened and the rain made visibility almost impossible.

Naas took to the conditions much better however, and they controlled the second half from start to finish as they powered their way towards a straightforward victory.

It might have been a little different had Dempsey’s rasping drive from a free not been deflected over the crossbar at the beginning of the new half, but Éire Óg Corrachoill were second best throughout the next 30 minutes.

Points from Tobin, Ryan and Sheridan had Naas well clear, before Ryan rattled home their third goal in the 38th minute to put the game to bed.

Conor Dowling impressed throughout the second half for the victors, and he tagged on three fine scores to cap a decent individual display, while Keane completed his hat-trick midway through the half as Naas continued to pull away.

Eoin Wilson and Rory O'Neill landed late scores for Éire Óg Corrachoill, but the destination of the title was never in doubt as Naas ran out 15-point winners in the end.

Scorers for Naas: J Keane 3-0, J Sheridan 0-7(3f, 1’65), S Ryan 1-3, C Dowling 0-4, C Tobin 0-3.

Scorers for Éire Óg Corrachoill: L Dempsey 0-7(5f), B Cormack 0-3, C Kielty, M O’Byrne, R O’Neill and E Wilson 0-1 each.

Naas

Sean Burke; Harry Carroll, Diarmuid Greene, Evan Nolan; Rory Goodfellow, Richard Hogan, Sean MacDonnacha; Rian Boran, Simon Leacy; Conor Dowling, Jack Sheridan, Kevin Aherne; Ciaran Tobin, Shane Ryan, Jeff Keane.

Subs used: James McKeon for Boran 40mins, Ciaran Kelleher for Goodfellow 45mins, David Murphy for Ryan 48mins.

Éire Óg Corrachoill

Philip Tierney; Ronan McGrath, Michael Begley, Declan Campbell; Adam Flood, James Dolan, Eoghan Dempsey; Barry Cormack, Murray O’Byrne; Eoin O’Brien, Rory O’Neill, Eoin Wilson; Liam Dempsey, Conor Kielty, Eoghan O’Haire.

Subs used: Eoin Carey for O’Haire 45mins.

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