(Match Report by John Smith, Mid Bord na nÓg PRO)
BRACKENS TOPPLE DURLAS ÓG TO CAPTURE TITLE
J.K. Brackens....................2-7 Durlas Óg......................... 1-9
J.K. Brackens are this years Mid Under 14 ‘A’ hurling champions (kindly sponsored by the Spain family, Thurles) following a thrilling win over a highly fancied Durlas Óg team in an extraordinary final at Littleton on Wednesday of last week. It is seldom that a team wins a final and fails to score in the second half. Brackens done this on Wednesday evening. They built up an eleven points half time lead and they held on dramatically especially in the closing minutes to record a one point victory.
Brackens with wind advantage played towards the dressingrooms end in the first half. The signs in the opening minutes showed that Brackens were well up for this match and they took the game to Durlas Óg. It was two point to nil in Brackens favour by the 10th minute. Thomas Hamill opened the scoring with a free and Colin Taylor scored a point from play. Brackens were on top in the middle of the field with Colin O’Riordan and Brian Kennedy getting the better of the exchanges. Durlas Óg were wide with two frees before Bracken’s full forward Colin Taylor expertly doubled on a high delivery to finish to the Durlas Óg net. Thomas Hamill who was deadly accurate from frees pointed a ‘65’ to leave it 1-3 to nil after fifteen minutes. Taylor who was causing all sorts of problems for the Thurles backline pointed from play and then in the 17thminute a long range free from Hamill went all the way to the Durlas Óg net. It could have been worse for Durlas Óg as their ‘keeper Cathal Ryan brought off a number of saves in the opening quarter. It looked at this stage that there was no was back for Durlas Óg as Brackens were dominant all over the pitch. Brackens extended their lead with two further pointed free from Thomas Hamill. Durlas Óg made a number of positional changes and their first score arrived in the 20th minute when Stephen Cahill pointed a free. Paraic Phelan brought a brilliant save out of Brackens goalie Killian Roche and the first half ended with Hamill and Phelan exchanging points from frees to leave the half time score J.K. Brackens 2-7 Durlas Óg 0-2.
The opening fifteen minutes of the second half was all Durlas Óg. Paraic Phelan scored five points, four from frees, to leave two goals between the teams. The Durlas Óg defence had tightened up considerably and Brackens didn’t get many scoring opportunities. Dylan Bourke pointed a long range free to further reduce the deficit and with five minutes remaining Aidan Doyle got on the end of a Paraic Phelan delivery to rattle the Brackens net to leave two points (2-7 to 1-8) between the teams. Durlas Óg attacked from the puck out and Peter Coman scored a delightful point from the right wing. As Durlas Óg launched all out attack for the equalising score Brackens defended in numbers. Durlas Óg saw two frees shave the upright and go agonisingly wide. They were still attacking when the full time whistle sounded much to the relief of the Brackens players and their supporters who had held on for a most dramatic victory.
Brackens set up this win with their great first half display but credit also to them for the manner they defended in the second half when Durlas Óg were camped in their half of the field for long periods. Thomas Hamill had an outstanding game and he finished with a personal tally of 1-4. Conor Bourke and James Bergin were solid at the back, Colin O’Riordan and Brian Kennedy did an amount of hurling at midfield while Dean McEnroe and Colin Taylor especially in the first half were prominent in attack.
Durlas Óg needs no reminding that their first half display was their downfall. An eleven point deficit left them with a mountain to climb in the second half but what a comeback they produced that just came up short. Paraic Phelan was their most consistent performer and he was a constant threat to the Brackens defence. Dylan Bourke, Peter Coman, Ronan Maher, Kevin Dunne and Stephen Cahill were others to impress. Wing forward, Aidan Doyle suffered an injury near the end of the game and he is wished a speedy recovery.
Teams and scores: