A TI­TLE FOR ‘CONEY’

Kil­te­gan see off Bray and ded­i­cate win to late com­rade

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - MARTIN O’BRIEN at Aughrim REF­EREE: Ciaran Manley (Gle­nealy)

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.

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