AIB All Ireland Junior Hurling Club Championship Final
Glenmore (Kilkenny) 2-08, Eoghan Rua (Derry) 0-12
At the final whistle in Croke Park on Sunday afternoon the Eoghan Rua players slumped to the ground, the pain of defeat etched on every face, manager Padraig Ó Mianain trying his best to console his crestfallen comrades.
Meantime the Glenmore players were rejoicing in their victory, the former Kilkenny, Leinster and All Ireland senior club champions having survived a tremendous Eoghan Rua comeback that brought them to the very cusp of a phenomenal victory.
Not unexpectedly the Derry side were nervous and tentative in the first half, unlucky in the early minutes when a Ciaran Gaile free hit the upright.
He did level the score at 0-01 each in the 4th minute, Eoghan Rua undone four minutes later when Alan Murphy scored the first of his two first half goals.
Full-back Liam McGoldrick drove over a spectacular point for 1-01 to 0-02 but an unfortunate slip allowed Murphy to plunder a second goal 12 minutes from half time for 2-05 to 0-02.
With Declan Mullan finding his form Eoghan Rua settled and Colm McGoldrick roused their vociferous supporters with a wonderful point, Gaile two frees and midfielder Tomas Magee on target to close the gap to 2-06 to 0-06 at half time.
In a rousing second half, early points from Gaile 0-02 frees and Sean Leo McGoldrick had the ‘Owen Roes’ chant ringing out in the Lower Deck of the Hogan Stand, the fans fervour driving the players on to new heights!
Alan Aylward put four between the sides twice in the third quarter after Sean Leo McGoldrick had made it a three point game.
Perhaps the defining moment of the game came in the 50th minute when Ciaran McGoldrick had a chance of a strike for goal but he was superbly hooked and the chance was gone.
Gaile landed two frees to leave two between the sides with three minutes remaining but they were twice denied by the massed Glenmore defence, Glenmore manager Tom Mullally admitting to relief when the final whistle sounded.
An emotional Eoghan Rua manager Padraig Ó Mianain said after the game, “Very disappointed for the lads, they fought very hard but those two goals in the first half were two sucker punches.
“We did come back a few times from 2-05 to 0-03 after 23 minutes and 2-06 to 0-06 at half time but we missed a few chances and there were a few decisions that were very harsh against us I thought. I thought some decisions went one way but not the other.
“It was a game of small margins and such decisions are difficult to understand. There were two points in the game at the end, so near and yet so far,
“It’s no consolation who the winners are or where they are from, we came here to win. After those two goals we were hurling with our peers and it was there to be won. We could have won it. We didn’t and it’s back to basics again, back to where we started.
“We just could not make the breakthrough in the closing minutes but we were playing against players who have been in Croke Park before and have the experience of winning All Ireland senior hurling medals with Kilkenny. They know how to close out a game.
“We did have chances but listen that’s the way it goes in a game of tight margins.”
He admitted that side was very nervous in the opening period, “Yeah we were very nervous in the first half and had a similar spell in the semi-final. We managed to settle down in the second half and there was great heart and determination out there, with Declan Mullan producing a man of the match performance. They did not care who they were marking, be it players with All Ireland medals or All Stars. We respected them but we did not fear them.
“So it is so disappointed to lose. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. For us it was one that got away. There is no other way to put it,”
Glenmore scorers: Alan Murphy 2-02, Mark Aylward 0-04f, Eoin Murphy and Shane Murphy 0-01 each
Eoghan Rua scorers: Ciaran Gaile 0-07f, Sean Leo McGoldrick 0-02, Colm McGoldrick, Liam McGoldrick and Tomas Magee 0-01 each
Eoghan Rua: Patrick Mullan; Pearse Dallas, Liam McGoldrick, Ciaran Lagan; Anton Rafferty, Barry McGoldrick, Niall Holly; Ruaidhri Leonard, Tomas Magee; Ruairi Mooney, Sean Leo McGoldrick, Ciaran Gaile; Declan Mullan, Colm McGoldrick, Ciaran McGoldrick
Glenmore (Kilkenny): David Aylward; Sean Duggan, Fergal Freyne, Shane Doherty; Phillip Roche, Richard Mullally, Mark Phelan; Shane Murphy, Darren Aylward; Eoin Murphy, Michael Phelan, Emmet Vereker; James Cody, Alan Murphy, Mark Aylward. (Subs) Colm Doherty for D Aylward 46 mins; Ben Doherty for M Phelan 53 mins; Dean Croke for S Murphy 63mins
Referee James Clarke Cavan