Mighty Mellows clinch title
Coolgreany side battle past gutsy Ballymurn challenge
LIAM MELLOWS 2-10 CROSSABEG-B’MURN 1-7
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.