St Martin’s pro­duce a stun­ning dis­play to claim Premie

New Ross Standard - - SPORT - DEAN GOOD­I­SON


FEAR­LESS­NESS is where it starts and it builds from there be­cause this type of per­for­mance is sim­ply im­pos­si­ble when there’s any in­hi­bi­tion present. It’s an in­ner con­fi­dence you can­not talk your­self into, it’s years of striv­ing for per­fec­tion.

St Martin’s vic­tory in the Green­star Pre­mier Un­der-21 Hurl­ing Cham­pi­onship final in Belle­field on Mon­day last was painfully beau­ti­ful to watch. Painful be­cause Naomh Eanna are a good, hard work­ing bunch be­ing mas­sa­cred, beau­ti­ful be­cause hurl­ing doesn’t get more clin­i­cal than this.

While St Martin’s were rightly talked up, over­whelm­ing favourites af­ter can­ter­ing to the final with big, com­mand­ing vic­to­ries, it shouldn’t be for­got­ten that Gorey had also played three matches en-route and were av­er­ag­ing just one point a game less.

They beat a good Oyle­gate­side in the semi-final and were wor­thy of their spot in the de­cider. What they didn’t have, ev­i­dently, was the de­fence to stop a bar­rage of scores be­ing taken for all an­gles and dis­tances. Who does?

There were ques­tions asked about the amount of St Martin’s play­ers in the Wex­ford Un­der-21 squad this sum­mer but those were al­ways ei­ther based in jeal­ousy, ig­no­rance or, worse again, both.

These guys are su­perb, they have been that way for a long time and they likely will be for the next decade or so. Get used to it, be­cause this St Martin’s side is go­ing to back­bone a Se­nior con­tender for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

In a team flush with qual­ity that per­formed to this level, it’s prob­a­bly fool­ish to start pick­ing out in­di­vid­ual per­for­mance. That said, Jake Fir­man had a mon­strous show­ing in mid­field for the champions.

There were sev­eral fac­tors be­yond St Martin’s con­trol that saw the per­for­mance dip against Rath­nure. On the play­ing side of things not hav­ing Dar­ren Codd in that game was re­ally em­pha­sised by his su­perb show­ing in this game.

And what about Rory O’Con­nor. Peo­ple will talk about the goals and they were re­ally well taken ma­jors. How­ever, his third point of the game, when he skirted the side­line, let­ting his body drift out but keep­ing the ball in be­fore nail­ing the point off his left side is what he’s all about - pro­duc­ing mo­ments that oth­ers can’t.

For as hard as Gorey bat­tled as a team, one man re­ally stood out. Dar­ragh Hughes was ex­cep­tional, both in the mid­dle third and later when he went in­side - bring­ing back mem­o­ries of his fel­low club­man Billy Byrne with some of his high field­ing.

It was 0-5 to noth­ing af­ter six min­utes as Fir­man and Joe Cole­man grabbed a cou­ple each. That ad­van­tage in­creased to 0-10 to 0-2 at the end of the first quar­ter with Harry O’Con­nor scor­ing a lovely point and Aaron Maddock reg­is­ter­ing from in­side his own half.

There were goal chances at both ends early in the sec­ond quar­ter. Joe Cole­man dropped Mikey Cole­man’s clever ball, got his pulled shot away but it trick­led wide. At the other end Dy­lan Byrne made a fan­tas­tic saves from Sean De­laney and then Hughes’ free.

Three Rory O’Con­nor points helped the Pierces­town based side into a 0-16 to 0-5 lead af­ter 24 min­utes. Gorey closed to nine when De­laney pointed when get­ting a rare op­por­tu­nity in acres of space on the left.

But St Martin’s fin­ished the half with a flurry of scores. The cru­cial goal came in the 28th minute and was cruel on Naomh Eanna. Jake Fir­man, prob­a­bly go­ing for the long-range point, slightly un­der-hit it but Ross Mur­phy couldn’t hold it and it drib­bled to the net.

Ac­cu­racy was not a prob­lem for St Martin’s with the breeze, they fired just six wides with their 20 scores and were full value for the 1-19 to 0-6 in­ter­val lead. In truth, the game was over as a con­test but Gorey cer­tainly didn’t ap­proach the sec­ond half with that men­tal­ity.

That said, it took Rory O’Con­nor just four min­utes to net twice. The first was a clin­i­cal low fin­ish from Mikey Cole­man’s clever pass, the sec­ond was a rasp­ing drive to the top, right cor­ner af­ter Jake Fir­man found him in space on the left wing.

Aod­han Doyle drifted in be­hind to net a lit­tle too eas­ily from Ross Mur­phy’s boom­ing clear­ance as Gorey set about hav­ing their best spell of the game with a cou­ple of points from Niall and Dar­ragh Hughes fol­low­ing a short time later.

An al­most un­be­lie­ve­able ten minute spell with­out a score for St Martin’s ended with a Joe Cole­man free and with eight min­utes to go Mikey Cole­man found the net from an­other fine, search­ing Kyle Fir­man pass (4-24 to 1-13).

Dar­ragh Hughes caught and net­ted from Jack Cullen’s long ball down field and his side could have added other ma­jors. How­ever, Dy­lan Byrne was ex­cel­lent be­tween the posts, stop­ping a string of late shots on goal.

All-in-all the mar­gin of vic­tory was a fair one as this is a spe­cial St Martin’s team. This was the club’s third vic­tory in four years at Un­der-21 level and their per­for­mance in the Se­nior grade this year sug­gest that it’s start­ing to trans­late into adult per­for­mance too.

ST MARTIN’S: Dy­lan Byrne; Michael Codd, Conor Fir­man, Eoin O’Leary; Ben Maddock, Aaron Maddock (0-1), Joe O’Con­nor; Harry O’Con­nor (0-1), Jake Fir­man (1-4); Barry O’Con­nor (0-2), Dar­ren Codd (0-3), Rory O’Con­nor (2-5); Conor Cole­man, Joe Cole­man (0-9, 5 frees), Mikey Cole­man (1-2, capt.). Subs. - Kyle Fir­man for H. O’Con­nor (45), Johnny Hamil­ton for O’Leary (49), Tony Kelly for B. Maddock (49), Padraig Ros­siter for M. Codd (52), Jack Dev­ereux for C. Cole­man (55), also, Cal­lum Quirke, Philip Dempsey, Brad

The vic­to­ri­ous St. Martin’s team af­ter their mag­nif­i­cent vic­tory over Naomh Eanna in the Green­star Pre­mier Un­der-21 ‘A’ hurl­ing final. An­drew Egan (spon­sor) and St. Martin’s cap­tain Mikey Cole­man.

The Naomh Éanna team who lost out to St Ma

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