ST JOSEPHS, TULLA.......................3-12 ST CAIMINS, SHANNON................2-14
By Michael O Connor.
A season of success concluded recently for the East Clare hurling hamlet of St Josephs' secondary school, Tulla with the narrowest of wins over St Caimins in Gurteen. One sensed on arrival that St Josephs were more in tune for the game as Munster champions they would like to at least be called the kingpins locally as well.
Due to their Harty cup status the favourites tag rested with the Shannon men but the hunger for St Josephs to keep their winning run going was key to their positive attitude. Rory Hayes was not available to St Caimins and their positioning of key dangerman Aaron Shanagher at wing forward for most of the first half cost them the title as they had no potency in the Tulla end of the field until the county minor moved into full forward.
Brian Fahy, who impressed for Tulla under 21s on their way to county final glory opened the scoring before county under 21 panellist Ben O Gorman responded for St Caimins from an acute angle in good underground conditions at Gurteen. The sheer ruthlessness of Gary Cooney when he gets in behind a full back line was evident as he goaled with his first chance in the fourth minute. Brian Fahy and Darren Chaplin added well taken points with only eight minutes elapsed as the East Clare side opened a five point lead. Aaron Shanagher and Brian Fahy shared four points between the 16th and 23rd minutes as the Shannon county minor was now placed at full forward.
Ben O Gorman who was operating well at centre forward narrowed the St Caimins deficit to a goal in the 26th minute. St Josephs, however were always able over the duration of the game to strike for a score against the run of play and Martin Daly nailed down a valuable goal with three minutes left in the first half and once again Tulla were six clear. Aaron Shanagher had the final score for St Caimins yet it was Brian Fahy who is now part of the Clare minor hurling panel who made the late headlines with a brace of scores from play. A strong breeze that did not seem to have any major influencce on the game favoured St Caimins for the second half as they entered the interval breal (2-7) to (0-6) in arrears with St Josephs most assuredly the better side.
Gary Cooney was first out of the traps in the opening minute of the new half with a brilliant score from an acute angle. He repeated the feat seconds after Ben O Gorman hit his third score of the game. Aaron Shanagher who was now the sole defensive objective of the Tulla side kept Caimins in touch in the 36th minute. Once more when the need was greatest St Josephs struck for a big score. A powerful run through the centre by Stephen Conway saw the ball being released to Darren Chaplin at the edge of the St Caimins square and he first timed to the net. 10 points was now the difference and with Terence Fahy's charges holding strong in the back the odds were in their favour for title success.
Ben O Gorman who will have a major influence this year for Shannon at adult level popped over his fourth score before Aaron Shanagher converted a free. Cillian Nugent, who is Clare minor sub goalie engineered a superb reflex save from Shanagher before Dean Devanney who had a quiet outing narrowed the gap to seven as the game was entering the final quarter.
Brian Fahy and O Gorman swopped scores as Martin Daly once more had a big score in the 51st minute to restore a (3-11) to (0-12) lead. St Caimins, now released that the pressure was on them to score goals or else defeat would be their lot by a considerable margin. Aaron Shanagher hit from play before Darren Chaplin hit the eventual winner in the 55th minute. Route one delivery of the ball on top of Shanagher was now the St Caimins plan and he amazingly struck for two goals in the 57th and 58th minutes. Two points was now the Tulla lead. Ben O Gorman went for goal from long range in the 59th minute and it was skimmed over the bar. With little or no stoppage time in the second half Ger Hoey blew the long whistle and brought an end to an enjoyable final.
Best for the winners included the impressive Cillian Nugent in goal, Evan McMahon, Con Smyth, Brian Fahy, Eoin Donnellan, Darren Chaplin, Martin Daly and Gary Cooney. St Caimins started poorly and were dependant on O Gorman and Shanagher for scores but came more into the game with performances from Greg Collins, Pa Mulready, Jack Cunningham, Ben O Gorman and Aaron Shanagher when moved to full forward.
ST JOSEPHS: Cillian Nugent (O C Mills), Pa Duggan (Newmarket), Evan McMahon (Feakle), Eoin Donnellan (Broadford), Matthew Troy (Broadford), Con Smyth (Feakle), Shane Hunt (Tulla), Enda Noonan (Feakle), Brian Fahy (Tulla)(0-7), Conor Henry (O C Mills), Darren Chaplin (Broadford) (1-2), Diarmuid O Brien (Broadford), Stephen Conway (Feakle), Martin Daly (Feakle)(1-1), Gary Cooney (O C Mills)(1-2). Subs: Jack Dillon (Broadford) for Hunt.
ST CAIMINS: Jacob Loughnane (Sixmilebridge), Ciaran O Connor (Wolfe Tones), Cathal Lynch (Sixmilebridge), Liam O Connor (Newmarket), Greg Collins (Newmarket), Pa Mulready (Sixmilebridge), Colin Guilfoyle (Newmarket), Jack Cunningham (Wolfe Tones), Dean Devanney (Wolfe Tones)(0-1), Aaron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones)(2-7), Ben O Gorman (Wolfe Tones)(0-6), Darragh McMahon (Wolfe Tones), Brian O Connor (Wolfe Tones), Cathal Hayes (Newmarket), Caher Agnew (Sixmilebridge).
Referee: Ger Hoey (Killanena).
After the game Tulla captain Evan McMahon received the Clare schools cup from GAA official John Fawl and paid due tribute to the efforts of St Caimins in the Harty Cup and expressed his delight that St Josephs were able to compete against the best in Clare and beyond.