Geraldines launch late burst to get better of Ballinastragh
Hurling in New Ross got a much-needed boost in Ferns on Saturday when the Juveniles from Geraldine O'Hanrahans displayed admirable spirit and craft to capture the Enniscorthy Guardian Roinn 1 shield crown with a powerful late burst.
Geraldine O'Hanrahans 2-14 Ballinastragh Gaels 2-9
The Barrowsiders found themselves five points in arrears with seven minutes left after conceding two goals midway through the second-half to leave Ballinastragh Gaels in the driving seat.
However, the players who lost the Division 3 Under-14 championship final to Rathnure two years ago weren't in the mood to be runners-up again as they produced a storming finish and struck 2-4 without reply. Ger Berry set the revival in train with a brace of points before a brilliant solo goal from midfielder Michael Cleere levelled matters with just over four minutes to go (1-12 to 2-9).
The lead point came from wing-back Martin Stafford, with Barry Roche tapping over another from a free before the clincher nearly two minutes into added time when Evan Lee forced the ball to the net from close range.
It was an exciting end to a game which saw the Good Counsel jersey-wearing Geraldines surge 0-7 to 0-2 clear by the 18th minute, with Michael Cleere accounting for three good points from play.
Jake Byrne ('65), Diarmuid Kehoe and Barry Roche (two, one free) joined him in the scoring stakes, while Kehoe was only denied a goal by a super save from Seán Geoghegan.
The Ballinastragh replies came from Ben O'Connor - every bit as skilful as his Cork namesake - and a Seán Bardon free.
Two more Bardon points, one from a '65, left just three between them at the break, and Ballinastragh had drawn level by the midway mark in the third quarter thanks to influential midfielder Cathal O'Reilly, O'Connor and Stephen Neville (0-7 each).
While Barry Roche and Jake Byrne (free) restored the Ross advantage, they were rocked when first O'Connor, and then O'Reilly, shot across goal from positions on the left to the far corner of the net in the 45th and 48th minutes.
The initiative was firmly with the Ballyfad/Tara Rocks combination at that stage, especially when a Barry Roche point produced two in response from O'Connor and accurate free-taker Seán Bardon (2-9 to 0-10).
The finishing line was in sight for Ballinastragh, but the Geraldines had other ideas.
Geraldine O'Hanrahans: Ben Walsh; Conor Walsh, Gavin O'Leary, Corrin Culleton; Martin Stafford (0-1), Pádraig Bailey, Jake Byrne (0-2, 1 '65, 1 free); Michael Cleere (1-3), Kyle Murphy (capt.); Barry Roche (0-5, 2 frees), Adam Fitzgerald, Ger Berry (0-2); Evan Lee (1-0), Diarmuid Kehoe (0-1), Tom Connors. Subs. - Andy Cash for Connors (45), also Larry Connors, Christian Burnett, Craig McDonald, Paddy Connors, Paddy Somers.
Ballinastragh Gaels: Seán Geoghegan; Billy Kavanagh, Liam McCarthy, Conor Hughes; Páraic Hughes, Seán Forde, James Shannon; Cathal O'Reilly (capt., 1-1), Patrick O'Connor; Stephen Neville (0-1), Seán Bardon (0-4, 2 frees, 1 '65), Maurice Cousins; Ben O'Connor (1-3), Dylan Houlihan, Stephen Mordaunt. Subs. - Dylan Sawyer for C. Hughes (45), Caleb Byrne-Murphy for Neville (52), also Ben Morris, Tom Mordaunt.
Referee: James Owens (Askamore).