PROGRESS IS PLEAS­ING

New Se­nior teams emerge to test big guns

Bray People - - SPORT - MARK KENNEDY Sports Re­porter

A FEW short years ago gen­uine fears were be­ing ex­pressed for the long term fu­ture of hurl­ing in Wicklow.

The Se­nior hurl­ing cham­pi­onship had in essence be­come a two horse race be­tween Gle­nealy and Carnew and we strug­gled to field county Mi­nor teams which were in­vari­ably trounced by the op­po­si­tion.

In the short space of three years, how­ever, hurl­ing in the Garden County is in a very dif­fer­ent place, the county team has been rid­ing high un­der Casey O'Brien, while on the home front we are see­ing new shoots of com­pe­ti­tion in the Se­nior cham­pi­onship emerg­ing once more.

Gle­nealy have been top of the pile for the last three years but in 2012 they can count them­selves lucky to come away with a draw with Avon­dale in the league, while Bray Em­mets are de­vel­op­ing into a se­ri­ous force in hurl­ing and Saint Pa­trick's are not far be­hind.

For the first time we had a group team in Se­nior, with In­ter­me­di­ate teams Kil­coole and Eire Og Greystones join­ing forces, and Cor­bett Gaels added an ex­tra di­men­sion to the cham­pi­onship.

One can never write off Kil­te­gan in ei­ther foot­ball or hurl­ing - you do it at your peril - while Ark­low Rock Parnells are re­build­ing from the ground up, win­ning an un­der-age ti­tle as well as the Ju­nior B cham­pi­onship crown, giv­ing some hope that they may be the road to rekin­dling their former hurl­ing glory of the 1970s and 1980s.

On the home front as well as at in­ter-county level, hurl­ing in Wicklow is look­ing much health­ier than it did a few years ago and let's hope that we can con­tinue that re­cov­ery into the fu­ture.

SE­NIOR HURL­ING CHAM­PI­ONSHIP

Not­with­stand­ing the strides be­ing made by other clubs, Gle­nealy still re­main the dom­i­nant force in hurl­ing in the county and in 2012 they had their dreams of win­ning the O'Donoghue Cup three times in a row ful­filled.

But in May Bray Em­mets made a bit of his­tory of their own when beat­ing Carnew Em­mets by 2-10 to 1-12 in the Le­in­ster Shield Di­vi­sion 3 fi­nal at Dr. Cullen Park, Car­low. It was the first ma­jor tro­phy for the Bray Club as a Se­nior side, con­firm­ing their emer­gence as a force to be reck­oned with in the fu­ture.

De­spite be­ing re­duced to 13 men in the sec­ond half, Carnew put the re­sult down to the wire in a storming fin­ish and Bray's Enda O Maolmhuaidh had to kick the slio­thar off his own goal-line to save the day.

The league sec­tion of the cham­pi­onship be­gan in June. Gle­nealy were de­fend­ing their ti­tle but suf­fered some shocks as they were held to draws by a resur­gent Avon­dale and by old ri­vals Carnew.

The game with Avon­dale was a derby match and a real cracker. Pro­duc­ing one of the best hurl­ing games of the year, the Dales rose to the chal­lenge mag­nif­i­cently and mid­fielder Ea­monn Kearns grabbed a de­served equaliser that saws the game end 1-13 apiece.

It turned out to be a re­sult that was to knock Gle­nealy off the top perch in the league, hand­ing the tro­phy to Carnew who were also to carve out a draw with Gle­nealy and then win all their re­main­ing matches.

At the end of Au­gust Carnew were sure they would be the first team to get their hands on some sil­ver­ware in Wicklow in 2012 when they beat Avon­dale 3-13 to 0-10 in the league.

With Gle­nealy breath­ing down their neck all the way, Carnew needed to beat Avon­dale and Cor­bett Gaels (2-17 to 1-8) in their clinch­ing league en­counter.

Avon­dale had a good league nev­er­the­less and were level on points with Carnew go­ing into this clincher.

Com­pared with pre­vi­ous per­for­mances, the Dales dis­play was some­what dis­ap­point­ing this time. Carnew were with­out three top play­ers in Gra­ham Keogh, Seanie Kinsella and Bren­dan McCrea, but still had enough in the tank.

Robert Lam­bert bagged 3-1, ev­er­green Don Hyland landed 0-7 from frees and a 65 and his con­tri­bu­tion was im­mense. Ray Nolan was top scorer for Avon­dale with 0-8 and he re­mained their chief marks­man all year.

Carnew: Ted Kennedy, Shane Doyle, Paul Nolan, Mark Collins, John Doyle, TJ Hen­nessy, Adrian My­ers, Thomas Kennedy, Willy Collins, Nick Skelton (0-1), Liam Kennedy, Don Hyland (0-7), Timmy Collins (03), Robert Lam­bert (3-2), Wayne Kinsella. Subs: John Ka­vanagh for W. Kinsella, Dan Nolan for L. Kennedy, Joe Murphy for Thomas Kennedy, Sea­mus Os­bourne for R. Lam­bert, Joe Hughes for A. My­ers.

In the cham­pi­onship proper, Kil­te­gan stepped up a gear to beat Ark­low Rock Parnells com­pre­hen­sively by 0-18 to 0-7 in their qual­i­fier, while Bray Em­mets sent Cor­bett Gales pack­ing as they set up a quar­ter-fi­nal clash with St. Pa­trick's.

Avon­dale had an­other show­down Gle­nealy in the semi-fi­nal af­ter they beat Kil­te­gan by 4-9 to 2-11. They drew with the reds in the league but cruel fate in­ter­vened in the cham­pi­onship semi-fi­nal with iconic mid­fielder Ea­monn Kearns hav­ing to leave the fray af­ter half time af­ter pick­ing up an an­kle in­jury.

Kearns' de­par­ture had a huge bear­ing and Gle­nealy went on to win by 0-14 to 1-9 with Jonathan Bosco O'Neill scor­ing seven points.

County start Andy O'Brien scored all 2-10 for St. Pa­trick's in their quar­ter-fi­nal against Bray Em­mets but it was not enough. Bray were the ones to de­servedly ad­vance to the semi-fi­nal on the back of a 214 to 2-10 win.

Carnew were Bray's op­po­nents in the semi. It was a bat­tle be­tween Bray's youth­ful en­thu­si­asm and Carnew's vast ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­pe­ri­ence won out in the end as the Carnew men set up an­other fi­nal show­down with Gle­nealy on the back of a 2-17 to 2-12 win. Don Hyland bagged nine of Carnew's points, show­ing he has lost none of his ac­cu­racy. Gle­nealy 1-11, Carnew 0-10 Gle­nealy went into the fi­nal as favourites to com­plete their three-ina-row, Carnew were hop­ing to com­plete a dou­ble af­ter wrest­ing the league crown from the reds ear­lier.

Reck­oned by sev­eral as not a great hurl­ing spec­ta­cle, the county fi­nal was a highly charged match none­the­less that went down to the wire be­fore Gle­nealy re­alised their dream of win­ning the O'Donoghue Cup three times in a row.

Un­der new man­ager Mick Neary, Carnew set the pace for much of the match but at the end of the day they lacked suf­fi­cient fire-power in at­tack to sup­port a bril­liant Don Hyland and get them over the line.

Hyland scored all but one of Carnew's 10 points, seven from frees. The bat­tle raged right to the end with Eoin Dunne blast­ing to the net to send Gle­nealy's cap­tain and goalie Joey Driver on to the podium to re­ceive the cup.

Gle­nealy: Joey Driver, Colm O'Neill, Michael An­thony O'Neill, Robert Byrne, Gary Byrne, Phillip Dunne, MJ O'Neill, Jonathan O'Neill (0-4, frees), Nigel Driver, Thomas Doyle, Wayne O'Gor­man (0-1), Eoin Dunne (1-2), Gavin Byrne, Enan Glynn (0-3), Leighton Glynn (0-1). Sub: Alan Con­yard for E. Dunne.

Gle­nealy had a bad day at the of­fice in the Le­in­ster Club In­ter­me­di­ate cham­pi­onship. Apart from the sec­ond quar­ter the reds did not scale the heights against St. Oliver Plun­ketts from Dublin who ran out clear win­ners by 0-15 to 0-10. The Dublin­ers did have a keener edge to their hurl­ing.

IN­TER­ME­DI­ATE HURL­ING CHAM­PI­ONSHIP

Gle­nealy's in­ter­me­di­ates brought off a league and cham­pi­onship dou­ble in 2012 as well as com­plet­ing a cham­pi­onship dou­ble with their Se­niors who had been crowned cham­pi­ons for a third suc­ces­sive time this year.

But it was heartache for Eire Og Greystones yet again as they failed to re­alise their dream of win­ning the In­ter­me­di­ate ti­tle and fol­low their foot­ballers into Se­nior ranks.

In­ter­me­di­ate is a small cham­pi­onship but has some good hurl­ing sides that pro­vide some good com­pet­i­tive matches.

In mid-Oc­to­ber Gle­nealy clinched the league style. Go­ing into their game with Kil­coole, Gle­nealy were level on the league ta­ble with Eire Og but six points be­hind the Greystones men on score dif­fer­ence.

The reds came away with a 20 point win­ning mar­gin, 2-22 to 0-8, leav­ing Eire Og with the near im­pos­si­ble task of hav­ing to beat Carnew by 15 points if they were to take the league tro­phy.

De­spite be­ing down to 14 men at the end of the first quar­ter, Carnew dug deep as they al­ways do, got the up­per­hand and went on to win by 1-12 to 1-10 de­spite coming un­der pres­sure in the clos­ing stages. The first dis­ap­point­ment for Eire Og.

A week can be a long time in the GAA as well as pol­i­tics. Eire Og again met Carnew in the cham­pi­onship proper and this time the Greystones men re­versed the re­sult win­ning by two points to qual­ify for the fi­nal.

Their fi­nal op­po­nents were Gle­nealy who de­feated Kil­coole in the other semi-fi­nal by 0-16 to 1-8. Kil­coole upped their per­for­mance, led for much of the first 40 min­utes, but once Gle­nealy moved into over­drive there was ever only go­ing to be one win­ner.

As Gle­nealy are a Se­nior club, Eire Og were the ones to rep­re­sent Wicklow in the Le­in­ster Club Ju­nior com­pe­ti­tion. There their op­po­nents were Rath­moy­lan of Meath and the game was played a week be­fore the cham­pi­onship fi­nal.

Eire Og rested some play­ers in ad­vance of the county fi­nal - their main ob­jec­tive was to win that - and made a quick exit from Le­in­ster on a score line 2-11 to 0-11.

In the first week of Novem­ber Eire Og had their date with des­tiny - the In­ter­me­di­ate cham­pi­onship fi­nal.

Pas­sage to Se­nior ranks was their dream. They were up against the aris­to­crats of hurl­ing and Gle­nealy want to win ev­ery cham­pi­onship crown.

The Greystones men did not per­form to their full hurl­ing po­ten­tial on the day. Fall­ing be­hind by 1-5 in the first 25 min­utes, they had the worst start imag­in­able. Many chances were missed.

Against op­po­nents of the cal­iber of Gle­nealy, a team has to be fir­ing on all cylin­ders. The op­po­site hap­pened to Eire Og. While they did no bow the knee, they were never able to make up the ground lost at the start. Heart­break for the Greystones men yet again.

Gle­nealy: Keith Snell, War­ren Ka­vanagh, Wes Man­ning, Niall Keogh, Ruairi O'Neill, Joey Driver, Aaron Nu­gent, Eoin O'Neill, David Nolan, Cian Kelly, Glen O'Gor­man, Jack Ka­vanagh, Lee Ka­vanagh, Vinny Fla­herty, Danny Staunton. Subs: Stephen Cody for G. O'Gor­man, Jamie Byrne for E. O'Neill, Anto Driver for C. Kelly.

JU­NIOR HURL­ING CHAM­PI­ONSHIP

There was a good ge­o­graph­i­cal spread to the three Ju­nior hurl­ing ti­tles, with Ark­low Rock Parnells win­ning the C cham­pi­onship, Bray Em­mets tak­ing the B and Kil­te­gan emerg­ing as the A cham­pi­ons.

The Ju­nior C fi­nal was fought be­tween En­niskerry and Ark­low Rock Parnells and went to a re­play be­fore we had a win­ner.

Martin Reilly grabbed a late equaliser for Ark­low in the drawn match. The re­play was a thriller which went to ex­tra time be­fore Ark­low Rocks eked out a nar­row one point vic­tory on a score line of 3-12 to 3-11.

Led by in­spi­ra­tional mid­fielder Shane Vick­ers, En­niskerry looked as if they were go­ing to pil­fer vic­tory right up to the end. But late points by Martin Reilly and cor­ner-for­ward David Hef­fer­nan saw ARP snatch vic­tory and the C tro­phy at the death.

Ju­nior B Hurl­ing: Bet­ter equipped Bray Em­mets put Avon­dale to the sword to qual­ify for the B fi­nal where they met Eire Og who beat West­ern Gaels in the other semi by a point 2-6 to 2-5.

Again there was no luck for Eire Og in this fi­nal ei­ther. Bray won on a score of 1-10 to 1-8. The hurl­ing was grip­ping; it was point for point for much of the 60 min­utes, with Bray post­ing the win­ning scores in the fi­nal quar­ter. Cian O'Byrne topped the list of scor­ers with 0-7.

Ju­nior A hurl­ing: Kil­te­gan and Barn­dar­rig con­tested the A fi­nal af­ter they had re­spec­tive wins over Gle­nealy (3-7 to 0-11) and Carnew (4-8 to 1-7). Many might have ex­pected Gle­nealy and Carnew to ad­vance, but Kil­te­gan and Barn­dar­rig killed them off with their goals rush.

The fi­nal was a gru­el­ing bat­tle be­fore Kil­te­gan emerged with the Cup af­ter de­feat­ing Barn­dar­rig by six points (3-5 to 0-8) at Ark­low. De­fences were on top for most of the way but the goal strikes by Kevin Byrne and Colm Coogan were the killer as far as Barn­dar­rig were con­cerned.

As the game en­tered its fi­nal min­utes, it was still a bat­tle royal be­tween the sides, but wing-back Coogan joined the Kil­te­gan at­tack and blasted to the net. Kil­te­gan were on their way but they still had to with­stand strong pres­sure from Barn­dar­rig be­fore Kevin Byrne sealed vic­tory with a clinch­ing goal.

MI­NOR HURL­ING

Bray Em­mets and Gle­nealy have been the dom­i­nant teams in Mi­nor hurl­ing over the last few years. Bray won the ti­tle in 2010; Gle­nealy took the crown back in 2011.

Not sur­pris­ingly the 2012 fi­nal was yet an­other cracker be­tween the clubs, pos­i­tive signs that we have a good crop of young hurlers coming up to take over in a few years time.

The Mi­nor fi­nal went to a re­play be­fore we had a win­ner. In the first match, played in aw­ful weather and ground con­di­tions, Gavin Weir saved Gle­nealy with a lev­el­ing point six min­utes into in­jury time, and that set us up for an­other ti­tanic game in the re­play.

Bray Em­mets led by 2-6 to 1-5 at the half­way stage, but Gle­nealy were not giv­ing up. The sec­ond half was played with the same in­ten­sity as the first, scores were traded at both ends with Bray just hold­ing on for a nar­row one point win, 2-9 to 2-8, at the fi­nal whis­tle.

Hurl­ing of that qual­ity at Mi­nor level bodes well for the fu­ture of the game in Wicklow and let's hope we see a lot more of it in 2013.

Casey O’Brien has his county team rid­ing high.

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