A TITLE FOR ‘CONEY’
Kiltegan see off Bray and dedicate win to late comrade
THE pinnacle of the Junior hurling championship served up a game that illustrated some of the many contrasts of Wicklow GAA. The west men from Kiltegan and the north men from Bray. Young guns and old rifles squaring off all over the field in a fascinating contest that went right down to the wire.
This game took on a life of its own as it weaved its way through the unpredictable weather conditions in Aughrim. It was a day for all seasons, with glorious sunshine at the start turning to wind and rain halfway through the second half. Undaunted, the teams took to the field with fire in the belly and the win in sights.
The opening 20 minutes was a very tight affair with teams trading points back and forward. Kiltegan relied on the evergreen Jeffrey Bermingham to create and take their scores early on. He popped over two frees and one from play in the opening half. He was assisted by Joey Maher and Andy Foley who added points of their own. It looked like Kiltegan were having to work harder for their scores.
On the other hand, Bray looked the trickier, wristier hurlers. Rory Lambe was causing all sorts of trouble in the Bray full-forward line as he helped himself to two fine scores. Eoin Mason was working hard at centre forward and lashed over a score. Sean McDonagh launched a free over the bar from long range.
Brian Duggan was Bray’s danger man in this first half, however. He slotted a lovely score from the sideline and followed this up with a sweet goal. In the 19th minute, Eoin Mason and Liam Kenny turned over a Kiltegan puck out. Kenny launched a ball to the edge of the square, where Duggan flicked a dainty ball to the net.
This game was going to be tight. The score as they headed for the dressing room was Kiltegan 0-6, Bray 1-5.
The best way to explain the second half of this game was ‘helter skelter’. It was all action, with both teams giving their all to bring home the cup. Kiltegan were the fastest out of the traps. With 30 seconds on the clock, a long ball into the danger area was latched on by Daniel Twyford Troy and hammered home. Jeffrey Bermingham added a free to this, and Kiltegan looked like they were going to blitz the Bray men.
Hold on a second, here comes Brian Duggan again. He managed to find himself all alone on the square again and crash the ball to the Kiltegan net. Bray looked to have put a halt to the Kiltegan gallop. From here experienced heads were needed, Eoin Mason took a foothold in the game with three frees to land Bray in what never looked like a comfortable three-point lead. Halfway through the second half, Bray weren’t to score again in this game, who’d have thought.
Jeffrey Bermingham continued his free taking form, but Kiltegan looked like they might be pucking it away. They had 12 wides ion the second half alone. Kiltegan’s young guns announced their arrival in the game at this point. Andy Foley and Kevin Quinn the tormentors in chief. Both solid in the first half, but they caught fire in the second half.
With 13 minutes left to play, Quinn latched on to a ball and cut through the heart of Bray’s defence. He shoots, and its saved Barry Cowan, in a flash it’s in the net. Andy Foley following in like a predator, flicks it to the net. The game is level, the crowds raise their voices and we enter in to an enthralling last ten minutes.
Both teams are working their socks off, with chances at both ends. No luck. Testy exchanges around the middle, with possession hard to come by and ever so precious when it was obtained. It would be fair to say the rain had dampened the score, but not the effort or excitement.
Then came the pivotal moment, the ball is being cleared from the Bray full-back line and was blocked by the Kiltegan men.
The ball is blocked, it falls to Fergal Foley who flicks it to hard working wing forward, Seanie O’Neill. He throws it up, all in one awkward looking scoop-type motion and it sails over the bar.
Three minutes on the clock, Kiltegan by the minimum.
Into injury time, the west men have a long-range free. Goalkeeper John Keogh launches it to the square where a field of hurleys go up. Its touched to the net and the jubilant scenes ensue in the Kiltegan dug out. Wait, it’s ruled a square ball. The game continues and finishes with O’Neill claiming a puck out. The final whistle and Kiltegan win.
A very entertaining game was made so by the performances of Anthony Furlong, Kevin Quinn, Jeffrey Bermingham and Andy Foley for Kiltegan.
Equally, Ronan O’Brien, Eoin Mason and Rory Lambe for the Bray men.
The day was Kiltegan’s and was aptly dedicated to their lost warrior, Peter ‘Coney’ Byrne by captain Eoin Coogan.
Man of the Match: Kevin Quinn
Scorers – Kiltegan: Jeffrey Bermingham 0-6 (5f), Andy Foley 1-1, Daniel Twyford Troy 1-0, Joey Maher 0-1 Seanie O’Neill 0-1.
Bray Emmets: Brian Duggan 2-1, Eoin Mason 0-4 (3f), Rory Lambe 0-2, Sean McDonagh 0-1.
KILTEGAN: John Keogh; Gavin Keogh, Anthony Furlong, Liam Kavanagh; Padraig Farrell, Christy O’Toole, David Phibbs; Kevin Quinn, Geoffrey Bermingham; Andy Foley, John Whelan, Seanie O’Neill; TJ Kenny, Eoin Coogan, Joey Maher. Subs: Daniel Twyford Troy for TJ Kenny, Fergal Farrell for John Whelan, Craig McGuire for Eoin Coogan.
BRAY EMMETS: Barry Cowen, Danny Eglington, Michael Walsh, Shane Anders; Ronan O’Brien, Sid Hunt, Seanie McDermott; Paul Barry, Luke O’Reilly; Conor Hardiman, Eoin Mason, Ryan Tynan; Rory Lambe, Liam Kenny, Brian Duggan. Subs: Andrew Conway for Conor Hardiman, Conor O’Doherty for Ronan O’Brien, Paddy Lee for Rory Lambe, Michael Timmons for Luke O’Reilly.
The Kiltegan team and supporters celebrate with the cup after defeating Bray Emmets in the Junior ‘A’ hurling final in Aughrim last weekend.
Wicklow County Chairman Martin Fitzgerald presents Kiltegan captain Eoin Coogan with the Junior ‘A’ cup.
Karen and John Whelan with the cup in Aughrim.
Eva and Jeffery Bermingham celebrate after the final whistle.