Portroe have the resolve to win County Minor 'C' Hurling title
GAA: County Under 17 ‘C’ Hurling Final
The sun eventually shone in Kilcommon on Sunday for the beginning of the County Under 17 ‘C’ Hurling final, and in what was a tit for tat affair, coming down to a nail-biting finish with Portroe coming out one-point winners over Loughmore/Castleiney.
Portroe settled a fraction more quickly during the first ten minutes, through some accurate free-taking by Jack O'Callaghan. This was a consistent pattern throughout the game but was also accompanied by a strong display from him in general.
Once Loughmore/Castleiney got into the game, their tendency to look for wider areas began to pay-off and Oran Breen reduced the deficit to the minimum, with a smart stroke from the left wing fifteen minutes in.
Both sides worked hard throughout, none more so than Matty Madden on the left wing for Portroe and he was rewarded with a green flag when his strike from a central position, 21 yards out, beat the Loughmore rear-guard on sixteen minutes.
Loughmore/Castleiney immediately replied with a brace from Richard Morris following a good delivery by Colm Gleeson and a great team score when Thomas Bohan, Mikey Ryan and Cathal Ryan combining to work the ball into Morris’ path.
On 24 minutes, Portroe led 1-5 to 0-4, when the game was unfortunately interrupted by an injury to Portroe’s Dave Moloney. Every caution necessary took place and while very disappointing for Dave, it was with some relief, the crowd applauded him from the pitch.
Richard Morris stormed Loughmore back into the game on the restart with a goal from the left following a delivery by Eoin O’Connell.
Matty Madden replied before Loughmore’s Joey Quinn finished to the net from fourteen yards. This time it was Dylan Gamble’s turn to reply before Daniel McCahey put Loughmore back in front. Jack O'Callaghan drew the sides level once more, and the half to a close, with a 21-yard free as the sides went in level 2-5 to 1-8.
The fresh breeze now favoured Loughmore/Castleiney. Both sides went tantalisingly close to goals with Loughmore keeper Ger Kirby forced to make a a goal-line save and clearance on 34 minutes. This marked a purple-patch for Loughmore as they outscored Portroe four points to one over the next ten minutes, with scores from Quinn (2) and McCahey from play another pointed free. Jack O'Callaghan did interrupt this pattern with a long-range strike for Portroe.
Dylan Gamble was now working very hard behind the midfield for Portroe, gaining possession and won a free for O'Callaghan to convert. As if to match this workrate, McGahey blocked a clearance for Richard Morris to convert, taking Loughmore’s lead to three points with less than ten minutes to play.
Jack O'Callaghan dramatically drew the sides level with a great strike from a free, 30 yards out when Matty Madden’s approach to goal was stopped illegally. Cian Hogan’s strike from distance took the lead for Portroe and O'Callaghan extended this with another free from 45 yards.
County titles should be as hardly earned as this, and Loughmore/Castleiney weren’t giving up easily, two narrow wides and Richard Morris ‘white flag’ reduced Portroe’s lead to a single point with one minute remaining. But again, great defensive play from the Port youngsters saw them to victory.
TEAMS - Portroe: Jamie Freeman; Cody Morkan, Robert Horan; Liam O’Callaghan, Jack O’Callaghan (1-6), Jack Quinn; Cian Hogan (0-1), Cillian Lewis; Brian O’Connor, Shane Flynn (0-3), Dave Moloney; Matty Madden (1-1), Dylan Gamble (0-1), Tristan Howard.
Loughmore/Castleiney: Ger Kirby; Thomas Larkin, Thomas Bohan; Billy Meade, Colm Hickey, Mikey Ryan; Colm Gleeson, Eoin O’Connell; Cathal Ryan, Oran Breen (0-1), Joey Quinn (1-2); Richard Morris (1-6), Daniel McCahey (0-2), Oisin Connolly.
Subs: Oisin Sweeney, Philip Connolly, Kevin Kelly, Henry Meade.
Referee: James Lees (Newport).