Roscrea - North Tipperary Junior ‘A’ Hurling League champions 2020. PHOTO: ODHRAN DUCIE

Roscrea claim Junior ‘A’ League title

Roscrea 1-17

Nenagh Eire Og 1-12

By James Hayden in Moneygall

A trio of second half saves from Roscrea goalkeeper Enda Moloney served to thwart a late Nenagh Eire Og rally and ensure a deserved North Tipp Junior ‘A’ Hurling League title for the Rossies on Saturday evening.

With 55 minutes elapsed and the gap between the sides at just two points following a strong third quarter from Eire Og, Moloney saved initially from a long-range Niall Madden effort before denying Craig Hilmi from point-blank range. From the resulting 65’, Moloney again cleared his lines in what proved the most defining passage of play of this enthralling junior league final encounter.

Both sides were well-matched throughout, but it was Roscrea who held the edge in a well-contested opening half. Early points from Sam Conlon, Jason Gilmartin and Conor Donovan (free) served to settle Ros’ before Niall McKeogh and the impressive Darragh Walsh (free) opened Nenagh’s account.

Josh Keller and Niall O’Lone exchanged points before two points on the bounce before a sweetly struck Jamie Cottrell left just one between the sides in the twelfth minute. Aidan Booth edged Roscrea two clear as the first water break approached but a Darragh Walsh free ensured the bare minimum separated the combatants, 0-6 to 0-5.

Nenagh were guilty of a little over elaboration in their play and at times their shot selection played into the hands of an impressive Roscrea defence.

The second quarter yielded just four scores shared between both sides with the highlight of the quarter a fine save from Nenagh's Michael McNamara to deny the raiding Jason Gilmartin in the 28th minute. Two fine points embellished added time with Nenagh substitute Anthony Walsh firing over a fine individual effort before Luke Seacy replied in kind to see Roscrea lead by the bare minimum at the half-time interval, 0-8 to 0-7.

Roscrea introduced Fergus Hannon at the break in a reactive move to curb the influence of Anthony Walsh and re-jigged their defence as required with the impressive Michael Parlon moving to full-back with Hannon assigned a man-marking job on Walsh.

Within minutes of the re-start, Nenagh broke through the Roscrea cover with Cian Crowley desperately unlucky not to find the net after his batted effort ricocheted off the crossbar and away to safety following Craig Hilmi’s deft handpass into space.

Conor Donovan and Darragh Walsh kept the scoreboard ticking for their respective sides before Luke Seacy edged Ros’ three clear with a well-struck 37th minute effort and almost immediately Conor Donovan (free) quickly extended the gap to four, 0-12 to 0-8. Roscrea extended their advantage to five with a fine John Ryan effort to see them lead by 0-14 to 0-9 at the second water break.

Upon the resumption Nenagh threw everything they had at Ros’ with points from Adam Healy and Darragh Walsh before Walsh raided down the stand side and cracked home a terrific goal to put Nenagh right back in the hunt, 1-11 to 0-16.

Nenagh threatened again but Enda Moloney served up a fine display of goalkeeping and in what proved a frenetic finish it was Roscrea who pushed on with Jason Gilmartin and Sam Conlon both finding their range to copper-fasten a hard-earned yet fully deserved victory.

Impressive for Nenagh were Darragh Walsh, Josh Keller, Niall Madden, Mark O’Farrell, and Niall McKeogh while Enda Moloney, Luke Seacy, Fergus Hannon, Sam Conlon, Jason Gilmartin, Conor Donovan, Michael Parlon and Michael Ryan caught the eye for Roscrea.

TEAMS - Roscrea: Enda Moloney (8), Brian McCabe (7), Gavin Meagher (6), Michael Parlon (8); James Synnott (7), Conor Phelan (7), Niall O’Lone (7); Conor Donovan (8); Michael Ryan (8); John Ryan (7), Luke Seacy (8), Aidan Booth (7); Jason Gilmartin (7), Conor Bergin (7); Sam Conlon (8).

Subs: Fergus Hannon (7) for Meagher (HT); Kenny Lee (6) for Bergin (46); Eoin Tynan (6) for M. Ryan (56).

Nenagh Eire Og: Michael McNamara (7), Mary Carey (7), Rory O’Donovan (7), Brian Tuite (6); Mark O’Farrell (7) (C), Sean Cleary (7), Niall Madden (8); Conor Bonar (7), Niall McKeogh (7); Josh Keller (8), Adam Healy (7), Jamie Cottrell (7); Darragh Walsh (8), Craig Hilmi (7), Cian Crowley (7).

Subs: Anthony Walsh (7) for Cottrell (30); Paul McLoughlin (6) for Tuite (31); Ben West (6) for Bonar (40); Seth Shayanewako (6) for Crowley (49); Mark Flannery (6) for Carey (49).

Referee: Pat Murray (Moneygall).