Twins link up for Rathnure
Brave Blackwater beaten
The O'Connors powered Rathnure to a dramatic second-half as they recovered from a six-point interval deficit to record a seven-point victory over a fine Blackwater outfit in this Enniscorthy Guardian Juvenile hurling Roinn 1 championship final in Taghmon on Sunday.
Rathnure 3-12 Blackwater 1-11
In all the O'Connors contributed 3-9 of their side's scoring between them, with Seán finishing the game with a personal tally of 2-8, 0-5 from frees, while Micheál got in on the act with 1-1 from midfield, as both players contributed handsomely to that second-half comeback.
A high-powered final kept the large attendance on their toes throughout the 60 minutes, with two evenly-balanced sides battling it out right to the final whistle.
With ten minutes remaining just a point separated them (1-10 to 1-9), with the Blackstairs boys having edged in front.
Bit it was in the closing two minutes that the O'Connor twins struck for goals, with both Seán and Micheál finding the net in what was quite an amazing finish to a game that produced quality hurling.
If featured everything that this great game contains, with excellent first touches and striking, tremendous scores and superb defensive and forward displays, with both sides contributing to what was a fitting finale to an excellent championship.
Blackwater midfielder Patrick O'Connor drove his side on from the opening minutes with two early pointed frees, with Rathnure opening their account through a Seán O'Connor pointed free after four minutes.
It was a game that opened up from the early stages, with the sides deadlocked at 0-4 each after 20 minutes.
However, three minutes later Patrick O'Connor pointed a free, before great approach play from centre-forward John O'Toole set up O'Connor who clinically finished to the net, giving his side a 1-5 to 0-4 lead.
O'Connor added three further pointed frees, while Seán O'Connor pointed excellently from an acute angle in between, leaving Blackwater with a 1-8 to 0-5 interval lead.
Going into the second-half with a six-point deficit, it left Rathnure with much to do but two Seán O'Connor pointed frees reduced the deficit.
And when the same player finished a breaking '65 to the net after 40 minutes, just the minimum separated the sides (1-8 to 1-7).
The play was flowing from end to end, with a Seán O'Connor pointed free bringing the sides level three minutes later, but Blackwater managed to lift the siege as Feidhlim Roche was denied a goal after a tremendous run through the centre by a last-ditch desperate tackle and block from Cameron O'Leary.
Blackwater regained the lead though through a Thomas Murphy point at the end of the third quarter.
Rathnure were now beginning to the find the range with four unanswered points through Seán O'Connor (free and play), Charlie Tector and Micheál O'Connor to stretch into a 1-12 to 1-9 lead with seven minutes remaining of a storming second-half display.
Although three points in arrears, Blackwater still went in search of scores with Patrick O'Connor having a goal attempt blocked before the ball was eventually finished wide, but an Adam Murphy point two minutes from the end, his effort just rising over the bar, reduced the deficit to 1-12 to 1-10.
Rathnure responded to the challenge with two goals in two minutes, the first a smart finish from Seán O'Connor, while midfielder Micheál O'Connor then capped a fine display with a splendid shot to the roof of the net from 14 metres near the end.
Credit to Blackwater as they kept on battling in the closing two minutes of additional time, with Jake Nobbs pointing a free. Rathnure prevailed though, even if one would have to say their winning margin was somewhat flattering.
Rathnure: Kyle Martin; Ciarán Doyle-Maher, Philip Redmond, Stephen Martin; Brian O'Neill, Cameron O'Leary, Owen Lennon; Micheál O'Connor (1-1), Jordan Bennett; Charlie Tector (0-1), Liam Doocey, Seán Moran; Seán O'connor (2-8, 0-5 frees), A.J. Redmond (0-1),Jack Redmond (0-1). Subs. - Adam Carty for Doocey, inj., also Philip Roche, Brendan Foley, Jack O'Neill, Shane Kirwan.
Blackwater: Shane Buttle; Robert McGuinness, Aaron Culleton, Jack Abrahams; Jonathan Blake, Jake Nobbs (0-1 free), Caolan O'Reilly; Feidhlim Roche, Patrick O'Connor (1-7, 0-7 frees); Don Redmond, John O'Toole, Shane Cahill; Adam Murphy (0-1), Thomas Murphy (0-2), Ross Berry. Subs. - Josh Culleton for Berry, Aiden McDonald for Redmond, Brian Mooney for O'Reilly, inj., also Kealan Fikentscher, Ben Cullen.
Referee: James Flood (St. Mary's, Maudlintown).