Turner steers North to title
First-half hat-trick crucial in securing seven-point win
The remarkable scoring exploits of joint captain Chris Turner continued in Nowlan Park, Kilkenny, on Saturday as he guided North Wexford to the Celtic Challenge Under-17 hurling Division 3 crown and the William Robinson Cup with a seven-point win over Dublin Plunkett.
North Wexford 4-13 Dublin Plunkett 1-15
A first-half hat-trick from the Ferns St. Aidan's corner-forward went a long way towards securing the title, and it came in the wake of tallies of 2-7, 3-10 and 3-4 respectively in his three previous outings versus Laois, Meath and Derry respectively.
By game's end Turner had 3-7 to his name on this occasion and, while it was by no means a one-man show, there was still no surprise when referee Joe Larkin nominated him as North Wexford's 'best and fairest' award winner afterwards.
The ace marksman had given his side the ideal start, rattling the net in the third minute after Charlie McGuckin directed a centre from Eoin Cullen into his path.
The goal gave North Wexford a lead they would never relinquish, although the inspired hurling of Dublin Plunkett centre-back Dónal Ryan ensured they could never be written off.
Turner had added a brace of pointed frees, with Emmet Allen and Ryan (two) responding for the city side, before he doubled his tally of goals in the eleventh minute.
This time centre-back Mike Kelly lofted a high ball into the danger zone, and Turner pulled it down with his stick before finishing to the net from close range (2-2 to 0-3).
Dublin Plunkett responded well to that setback as they picked off seven of the next ten points over a 17-minute spell, with the North Wexford scores registered by Turner (two frees) before all-action midfielder Jack Reck joined him on the list of finishers.
Further points from Reck and Turner (free) made it 2-7 to 0-10 before North Wexford enjoyed the tonic of a third goal with the last puck of the opening half.
It was the perfect time to strike as Geoff Tobin and Edward Dunbar combined to pick out Darryl Gray who was taken down by corner-back Eoghain Reynolds after a neat sidestep.
The penalty was clinically dispatched to the net by Chris Turner, leaving North Wexford ahead by six points at the break.
Two Emmet Allen points, the first from play, saw Dublin Plunkett resume on a bright note, but Jack Reck and Turner (free) hit back before the arrival of the fourth goal in the 37th minute.
Reck made a fine catch and sent in a teasing delivery which was fumbled by netminder Cathal McLoughlin, with the alert Darryl Gray on hand to kick it home for a 4-9 to 0-12 lead.
Eoin Cullen added a point from distance shortly after Dublin Plunkett's Michael Noonan struck the side-netting, but the boys in navy kept plugging away as Emmet Allen converted a couple of frees.
Turner (free) responded for the leaders, although they were given plenty to think about when Dublin Plunkett pulled back a goal in the 53rd minute.
Conall Burke made a strong run before finding Mark Tracey, and he in turn picked out substitute Robert Kennedy who beat netminder Jack Quinn to narrow the gap to six (4-11 to 1-14).
Both sides then lost a player in quick succession to second yellow cards, with North Wexford's Edward Dunbar departing the scene before Emmet Allen followed suit.
Cian Fitzhenry registered a neat point directly off his hurl in the 58th minute, with a goal chance for Dublin Plunkett's Luke Walsh then zipping over the bar to the relief of the North Wexford defence.
Chris Turner set up Charlie McGuckin for the final point in added time, with their rivals unable to close the gap even after moving star man Dónal Ryan to the forwards in a last throw of the dice.
The William Robinson Cup was presented to joint captains Chris Turner and the injured Diarmuid Doyle by John McGrath, Secretary of the Past Hurlers' Association. It commemorates an eleven-year-old boy who was murdered on Bloody Sunday while watching the Dublin v. Tipperary football game in Croke Park from the vantage point of a tree, and one of his descendants, Frank Robinson, also played a part in the presentation ceremony.
North Wexford: Jack Quinn (St. Patrick's); Niall Nimmo (Oulart-The Ballagh), Cathal O'Reilly (Tara Rocks), James Dempsey (Cloughbawn); Rory Heffernan (Liam Mellows), Mike Kelly (Oylegate-Glenbrien), Barry Doyle (Marshalstown-Castledockrell); Jack Reck (Oylegate-Glenbrien, 0-3), Geoff Tobin (Ferns St. Aidan's); Cathal Doyle (HWH-Bunclody), Edward Dunbar (HWH-Bunclody), Charlie McGuckin (Naomh Eanna, 0-1); Darryl Gray (Oulart-The Ballagh, 1-0), Eoin Cullen (Liam Mellows, 0-1), Chris Turner (Ferns St. Aidan's, joint capt., 3-7, 0-7 frees, 1-0 pen.). Subs. - Cian Fitzhenry (Duffry Rovers, 0-1) for B. Doyle (42), Lee McHale (Monageer-Boolavogue) for C. Doyle (48), Brian O'Neill (Ferns St. Aidan's) for Gray (60+1), Shane Stokes (Naomh Eanna) for Dempsey (60+1), also Ross Cody (Liam Mellows), Diarmuid Doyle (Marshalstown-Castledockrell, joint capt.), Shane Stafford (Ferns St. Aidan's), Eoghan Kennedy (Naomh Eanna), Jamie Roban (Duffry Rovers), Bradley Collier (Oulart-The Ballagh), Colm McGannon (Monageer-Boolavogue).
Dublin Plunkett: Cathal McLoughlin; Shane Kavanagh, Eoin Berry, Eoghain Reynolds; Luke Walsh (capt., 0-1), Dónal Ryan (0-2), Daragh Levins; Eoghan McKay, Diarmuid O Floinn; Brian Moran, Mark Tracey, Emmet Allen (0-6, 4 frees); Conall Burke (0-3), Cormac Quinn (0-3), Michael Noonan. Subs. - Josh O'Brien for Kavanagh (42), Tom Kehoe for Quinn (48), Robert Kennedy (1-0) for Noonan (48), Conor Rigney for McKay (53).
Referee: Joe Larkin (Cork).