Mighty Mel­lows clinch ti­tle

Cool­gre­any side bat­tle past gutsy Bal­ly­murn chal­lenge

New Ross Standard - - SPORT - DEAN GOOD­I­SON


IT WAS never easy but Liam Mel­lows ground down a gutsy Cross­abeg-Bal­ly­murn side to claim the Green­star Un­der-20 hurl­ing Di­vi­sion 4 championship ti­tle at the Halo Tiles Ferns Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence on Tues­day.

This con­test had ev­ery­thing you would ex­pect from a fi­nal at the lower end of the totem pole. Both teams had more wides than scores, they both wasted good chances, there were a few heated mo­ments, but for all that it was still a highly com­pet­i­tive fix­ture with flashes of class along the way.

The rea­son Liam Mel­lows are cham­pi­ons is sim­ply be­cause they had more play­ers step­ping up and pro­duc­ing those big mo­ments. Im­por­tantly, it started from the back four, goal­keeper and full-back line, with no score con­ceded to their op­pos­ing play­ers.

But they had play­mak­ers else­where too. The mid­field was the ba­sis for a lot of their great work and set the plat­form for most of what was good about the Mel­lows men.

The in­side for­wards pil­laged one goal but they cre­ated plenty, with a com­bi­na­tion of good de­fend­ing and mis­for­tune en­sur­ing the ma­jor to­tal was kept down.

Rob­bie Brooks got his side on the scoreboard af­ter 70 sec­onds but it was good work by his cap­tain, Eoin Cullen, that pre­sented Seán Og Stafford with a goal chance that he took with aplomb just a minute later.

Chris Cal­lanan flashed over the cross­bar on the run in the fourth minute and, when Cullen added his first dead-ball score a short time later, Liam Mel­lows had the per­fect start, lead­ing by 1-3 to nil.

One of Cross­abeg-Bal­ly­murn’s more ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers, Ro­nan Dev­ereux, stepped up to set­tle them down with an open­ing point, but they trailed by six again when Cullen popped over in the 15th minute.

Yet sec­onds later James White went on a pow­er­ful run, cut­ting in from the right wing be­fore flash­ing to the net.

A cou­ple of Mark Byrne frees put just two be­tween the teams, but Mel­lows fin­ished on the front foot with scores from Brooks and Cullen giv­ing their side a 1-7 to 1-3 in­ter­val lead.

When Jack For­tune got the first score of the sec­ond-half, Cross­abeg-Bal­ly­murn had a re­newed pep in their step.

How­ever, that was wiped out when Rob­bie Brooks cracked a shot from just out­side the ‘20 that found its way through bod­ies to the net.

At that stage the even­tual cham­pi­ons held a six-point lead.

Three times in the re­main­der of the half Cross­abeg-Bal­ly­murn edged within five, but the next score al­ways came at the other end.

Byrne and For­tune (two) got the Cross­abeg-Bal­ly­murn points, but replies by Rory Hef­fer­nan (two) and Joe Bar­rett meant there was six be­tween the teams in stop­page time.

De­spite al­most nine min­utes of over­time be­ing played, Cross­abeg-Bal­ly­murn couldn’t find a route back and fin­ished with 14 af­ter Lor­can Mur­phy was sent-off.

Liam Mel­lows kept the ef­forts at Dar­ragh Brooks’ goal at bay and took a fully-de­served Di­vi­sion 4 ti­tle.

Liam Mel­lows: Dar­ragh Brooks; Dar­ragh Hef­fer­nan, Frank Roche, Kevin Cleary; Shane Halpin, Ross Cody, Dy­lan Goland; Rory Hef­fer­nan (0-2), Rob­bie Brooks (1-2); Chris Cal­lanan (0-1), Eoin Cullen (capt., 0-4, 3 frees, 1 ‘65), Alex Mur­phy; Seán Og Stafford (1-0), Frank Ka­vanagh, Sam Cody. Subs. - David Byrne for D. Hef­fer­nan (43), Ciarán Power for Cody (55), Joe Bar­rett (0-1) for Stafford (60+1), also Mike Fen­lon, Oisín Con­dren.

Crossaabeg-Bal­ly­murn: Cathal Byrne; Michael Whe­lan, Conor Bar­low, Stephen Cullen; Conor Mur­phy, David Ke­hoe, Robert Mur­phy; Jack For­tune (0-3), Luke Red­mond; James White (1-0), Ro­nan Dev­ereux (capt., 0-1), Evan Kin­lough; Lor­can Mur­phy, Lor­can Cum­mins, Mark Byrne (0-3 frees). Subs. - Lor­can Lacey for Kin­lough (43), Michael Cullen for M. Byrne (46), Dar­ragh Turner for Cullen (57), also Seán Reck, Tony Laf­fan, Peter O’Leary.

Ref­eree: Paddy Brady (Bal­ly­gar­rett).

The run­ners-up from Cross­abeg-Bal­ly­murn.

The suc­cess­ful Liam Mel­lows squad cel­e­brat­ing their vic­tory.

De­clan Kenny of Green­star (spon­sors) with cap­tain Eoin Cullen.

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