O’Leary’s accuracy rewarded
Martin’s captain strikes 2-9 in comprehensive victory
THE EXCELLENCE of captain Diarmuid O’Leary steered St. Martin’s to a deserved 3-11 to 0-8 triumph over HWH-Bunclody in the Enniscorthy Guardian Under-15 hurling Premier shield final, as his personal haul of 2-9 put the Carlow border side to the sword at a chilly St. Patrick’s Park, Enniscorthy.
Although the eventual victors fell behind early on to a couple of points from their fast-starting opponents, once the imposing Zach Breslin forced home a goal on 19 minutes, they never looked back thereafter.
The accurate Oisín Ó Ceallaigh opened proceedings from a free he won, while Eoin McDonnell’s pass into space was pointed on the turn by Robert Black.
Breslin knocked over from a break off Bobby Whelan on five minutes, while O’Leary levelled proceedings from a free after a push on Breslin.
Incidentally, those first two Martin’s scores weren’t acknowledged on the scoreboard until referee Brendan Holohan intervened quickly after noticing, but the trend of play was easier to follow afterwards as three consecutive Ó Ceallaigh scores (two frees) nudged Bunclody 0-5 to 0-3 ahead by the 17th minute.
But the game was turned on its head two minutes later as O’Leary’s free dropped short but Breslin caught and buried to the net.
In fact, Breslin was twice denied by brave point-blank saves from Bunclody netminder Faolán Ó Ceallaigh, with the second intervention on 27 minutes particularly outstanding as it came at him at head-height.
But St. Martin’s were nonplussed by that heroism as O’Leary planted a penalty to the bottom corner of the net from the last puck of the half to build a crucial 2-4 to 0-6 cushion at the interval.
O’Leary pointed not long after pulling a goal chance wide and also pointed in full stride from Breslin’s catch to make it 2-6 to 0-6.
Clearly at the top of his game, O’Leary really hammered home his authority when smashing in St. Martin’s third goal after some good work by Daniel Hamilton on 42 minutes.
HWH-Bunclody had twice as many wides as scores by the 53th minute, but tagged on late consolation points from McDonnell (free) and Tommy Dee-Atkinson to still finish twelve points in arrears against a slick-looking Piercestown-based outfit.
St. Martin’s: Christopher Ryan; Harry Quirke, Kevin Reck, Robert Curtin; Brian Codd, Rory Devereux, Eoin Ormonde; Joe Mernagh (0-1), Conor King; Josh Whitty, Diarmuid O’Leary (capt., 2-9, 1-0 pen., 0-3 frees, 0-1 ’65), Derry Crowley; Bobby Whelan, Zach Breslin (1-1), Tom Connick. Subs. - Daniel Hamilton for Curtin (30), Oisín Kavanagh for Whelan (43), Conor Dempsey for Hamilton (50), also John Codd.
HWH-Bunclody: Faolán Ó Ceallaigh; Rory Raleigh, Tommy Dee-Atkinson (0-1), Thomas Cowman; Derry Mahon (joint capt.), Eoin McDonnell (joint capt., 0-1 free), Ben Martin; Darragh Farrell, Rory Byrne; Mylie Connors, Robert Black (0-1), Ciarán Whiting; Oisín Ó Ceallaigh (0-5, 4 frees), Paddy Connors, Desmond O’Connor. Subs. - Liam Carton for O’Connor (35), Conor Burke for Whiting (45), Jimmy Connors for Raleigh, inj. (49), also Michael Doyle, Hubert Wielocha, Sam Black, Páraic Doyle.
Referee: Brendan Holohan (Rathgarogue Cushinstown).
The successful St. Martin’s squad.
The beaten finalists from HWH-Bunclody.
Joe Mernagh (St. Martin’s) is pursued by Ben Martin (HWH-Bunclody).
Josh Whitty of St. Martin’s passing the ball to a colleague.
Diarmuid O’Leary with David Tobin (Coiste na nOg Secretary) and Brian Carty, representing People Newspapers.