Saturday 16 December 2017

Bunclody survive comeback

Dean Goodison

HWH-Bunclody celebrating Sunday's Under-14 championship final victory
HWH-Bunclody celebrating Sunday's Under-14 championship final victory
The Blackwater squad prior to Sunday's final

Half Way House-Bunclody withstood a ferocious Blackwater comeback to claim a memorable victory in the New Ross Standard Under-14 hurling Division 2 championship final in St. Patrick's Park on Sunday.

HWH-Bunclody 2-10 Blackwater 3-5

The Enniscorthy District side looked to be cantering to a really impressive victory, leading by 2-8 to 2-0 at the interval. However, Blackwater were absolutely magnificent in the second period, fighting all the way back to within a point before succumbing.

The battling qualities on display were second to none, from both sides. As impressive as Bunclody were, maybe the most important weapon in their armoury was their resilience.

With seven minutes remaining Blackwater's Ollie Murphy scored a super point from fully 55 metres out to close the gap to one. At that stage the Over The Water boys had been bossing the game for almost 20 minutes.

Yet, just when it seemed like Blackwater would take control, out of somewhere Half Way House responded, digging deep within reserves they probably didn't even know they had to keep their opponents at bay.

The drama that was to follow wasn't evident as Bunclody bossed the early exchanges. The supreme Ciarán Regan had two points on the board inside four minutes and Oisín Ó Ceallaigh soon joined him on the scoresheet with a classy point from just inside the '45.

Regan made it 0-4 to nil, only for Blackwater to respond. The dangerous Johnny O'Toole claimed possession on the left wing, danced past two tackles and rattled an unstoppable shot into the roof of Derry Mahon's net in the 13th minute.

Less than a minute later the Blackwater talisman dumped a free, from long range, into the goalmouth. Brian Óg Curran claimed possession and fired across goal to the net to, almost out of nowhere, give his side a 2-0 to 0-4 lead.

Unperturbed, Bunclody quickly hit back with a major double. James Black's long ball found Regan in the 15th minute, and the almost unstoppable attacker raced 20 metres in possession and shot low past Adam Curran.

Two minutes later he was at it again. Mylie Connors was involved this time, sending the ball across goal from the left wing. Regan picked it up, worked a yard of space on the '20 and smashed it to the net.

Four more points in a row, with Black, Darragh Farrell and Regan (two) on target, increased the lead to eight at the break (2-8 to 2-0). Bunclody didn't score again until four minutes from time.

In the meantime Adam Murphy really came into the game for Blackwater and was outstanding, leading a superb set of defenders. Two Ross Berry points cut the deficit initially, and an Og Curran free helped too, but it was Murphy's long range major that really made Blackwater believe.

Ollie Murphy narrowed the gap to one with seven minutes to go (2-8 to 3-4), only for Regan to win a free that Black converted. Again Blackwater responded to pull within one with a Berry dead-ball after a foul on O'Toole.

For five minutes straddling the end of the 60 the game swung back and forth. Eventually, in the 62nd minute Ciarán Regan topped a magnificent performance with the clinching score from Oisín Ó Ceallaigh's pass to win the cup for Bunclody.

HWH-Bunclody: Derry Mahon; Paddy Connors, Stuart Power, Ben Martin; Larry Connors, Eoin McDonnell, Mylie 'Red' Connors; James Black (0-2 frees), Pádraig Nolan (capt.); Rory Byrne, Oisín Ó Ceallaigh (0-1), Darragh Farrell (0-1); Ciarán Regan (2-6, 0-2 frees), Mylie Connors, Pádraig Doyle. Subs. - Tomas Jeffers for Doyle (20), Doyle for L. Connors (55), also Tomás Fitzgerald, Liam Carton, Faolan Ó Ceallaigh, Robert Black.

Blackwater: Adam Cullen; Seamus Walsh, Bryan Mooney, Alan Malanowski; James Cullen, Adam Murphy (1-0), Jason Wallace; Johnny O'Toole (capt., 1-0), Kealan Fikentscher; Conor Byrne, Ben Cullen, Ollie Murphy (0-1); Brian Óg Curran (1-1, 0-1 free), Ross Berry (0-3, 2 frees), Josh Culleton. Subs (not used). - David Power, Fiachra O'Reilly, Ciarán Cash, James Whelan, Ryan Byrne, Jay Mooney, Liam Lynch.

Referee: Eddie O'Sullivan (Ballyfad).

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