Borris-Ileigh claim fourth Minor 'B' title
GAA: North Tipperary Under 17 'B' Hurling Final
Report: Thomas Conway in Dolla
Player of the Match: Paddy McCormack (Borris-Ileigh)
SCORERS - Borris-Ileigh: Paddy McCormack 2-8 (0-6 frees), Eoin Boyle 1-4 (0-1 free), Will Cooney 0-1.
Newport: Lee Ryan 0-4 (3 frees), Brian Tobin 1-2; Dan Ryan 1-1; Shane Flanagan, Dara Kennedy, Calum Poole 0-1 each.
A barrage of first-half goals paved the way for Borris-Ileigh to claim the North Under-17 'B' Hurling title last Sunday, as captain Cillian Murphy led his side to a fourth divisional title in the grade, complementing previous successes in 1981, 1985, and 2004.
The main contrast between the present under-17 grade and its under-18 precursor is, of course, the physical strength and maturity of the players, and although the ball may not travel with the same power or velocity, this North Final was a dynamic battle full of quick-stick work and slick passing.
There was also an air of unpredictability to it throughout, particularly in the closing stages, as Newport searched desperately for a goal and eventually managed to find one - a scintillating effort from midfielder Dan Ryan, which he seemed to conjure out of thin air. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough, as a strong Borris defensive unit kept their opponents at bay when the threat was greatest, with Cillian Murphy, Loughlin Hodgins, and Mikey Kennedy leading the resistance.
Five goals in total, four of them in the first-half, the initial two arriving within a minute of each other, in the fourth and fifth minutes. Borris centre-forward Paddy McCormack delivered a brilliant man-of-the-match performance, easing himself into the groove with an early free.
His fifth minute goal was somewhat fortuitous, a long-range strike which evaded the keeper and dipped under the crossbar, cancelling out the slightly more attractive score smashed home by Brian Tobin a moment earlier. The Newport full-forward made no mistake with his finish, slotting the ball neatly past Devaney, but the build-up was arguably more impressive. Midfielder Dan Ryan had shot onto the ball near the centre of the field, slipping past two or three Borris players before directing the sliotar straight into Tobin territory.
Whatever momentum it gave them was temporary, and following the McCormack goal, Borris started to gain a foothold. Ever-threatening and always sharp, Eoin Boyle whisked over his first point in the eleventh minute, splitting the posts from an acute angle.
Several minutes later, Borris almost had their second goal, McCormack again the protagonist, collecting an offload from Will Cooney following Dan Kennedy’s razor-sharp delivery from centre-back. McCormack spun around the nearest defender with a 180-degree turn, and while his subsequent shot fizzed close to the crossbar, it remained on the upper side of the woodwork.
While Newport had hit a number of wides, they still looked capable going forward. Wing-back Kevin O’Brien was a constant presence in possession, working tirelessly and spraying his passes in the direction of both Tobin and Lee Ryan.
Ryan had just pointed a 20 metre free from beside the sideline when Borris once again seized the initiative. Boyle raced onto a breaking ball on the edge of the semi-circle, bursting into space before sliding a beautiful grass-cutting effort across Damien O’Brien and into the far corner. It was a cruel set-back for Newport, but the damage wasn’t over.
On the cusp of half-time, with the sides even in terms of general play, Borris completed their trio of goals, McCormack extracted the ball from a melee of players and somehow forcing it over the line.
The half-time scoreline of 3-5 to 1-4 seemed to suggest that Borris were dominant, and yet that wasn’t really the case. While Newport had no choice but to go for it, their opponents didn’t require anything spectacular in the second-half - just continue to tag on points and stave off any potential goal threat. They implemented that strategy to perfection, but could have made winning a whole lot easier in the 34th minute, when McCormack almost completed his hat-trick. A last-ditch hook from wing-back O’Brien proved crucial, ensuring that the contest would rage on for another twenty minutes at least.
The points continued to fly over, but Borris had crowded the danger-zone with bodies, their half-back line of Ryan, Kennedy and Rabbitte looking cool under pressure. Several Newport goal opportunities yielded no return, and then a goal did arrive - out of an opportunity which was minimal, if it existed at all.
Knowing his side needed to rattle the net, Dan Ryan seized possession inside the 20 metre line but en route towards the sideline. Any effort on goal was always going to be audacious, but he went for it anyway, sending a blistering strike diagonally across the square, shooting past Devaney mid-height and almost piercing the net at the far side. There was no time to dwell however, because Newport needed another.
With only minutes remaining, McCormack then hit his most significant score, nailing a long-distance free from the corner of the 65 metre line, diffusing the tension amongst the Borris supporters and extending the gap to five, 3-11 to 2-9.
Boyle followed it up with another crucial point, quickly cancelled out by Calum Poole at the other end, but there was to be no stoppage-time drama, and the final act fell to Boyle - who closed the curtains with another free to ensure victory.
TEAMS – Borris-Ileigh: A Devaney; Eamon Groome, Cillian Murphy, Lorcan Hodgins; Pat Ryan, Mikey Kennedy, Calum Rabbitte; Will Cooney, Patrick Brett; Sean Young, Paddy McCormack, Harry Gould; Sam Patton, Eoin Boyle, Luke Preston.
Subs: Cian Murray for Preston (35), Eamon Ryan (NR) for Patton (60+6).
Newport: Damien O’Brien; Aaron Coleman, Tom Allen, Paul Burke; Kevin O’Brien, John Lee, Gavin Mellerick; Stephen McCormack, Dan Ryan; Luke Collins, Dara Kennedy, Shane Flanagan; Calum Poole, Lee Ryan, Brian Tobin.
Subs: Aidan Ryan for Collins (35), James Tobin for Tobin (49).
Referee: Conor Doyle (Silvermines).