Clane took the Kildare Minor B Hurling title in an thrilling final in Hawkfield on Saturday last as three second half goals got them over the line against a gallant Éiré Óg Corrachoill.
Minor B Hurling Championship Final
Eire Og Corrachoill: 1-11
Clane’s clinical finishing ensured a ten point victory in the end but the game was far tighter than that margin would suggest with Clane goalkeeper Paddy McKenna picking up the man of the match award for his heroic display to keep Éiré Óg at bay. Indeed at times the game appeared to be a duel between McKenna and Éiré Óg ace Evan Dempsey, with the Clane man coming out on top time and again with a series of brilliant saves.
Indeed it was the Clane defence who were to thank for keeping their team in the game in the opening quarter as the forward line struggled to break down the Éiré Óg backline, failing to hit the target in the opening thirteen minutes. At that stage though Éire Óg had only managed to put a solitary point on the board, through Paul Clifford, themselves despite dominating, thanks in no small part to some great Clane defending.
When Clane did eventually get off the mark they burst into life and took complete control of the game. Just shy of the quarter hour mark Tommy Cribbin picked up on a slip in the Éiré Óg defence and burst through to drive the ball to the net to put Clane into an unlikely lead. Finn Moore immediately followed that up with a point before two long range scores from Sean Christansen left them five points clear.
Éiré Óg rallied but they were unable to break down the Clane defence and a string of superb blocks led to Clane clearing the ball down-field to Cathal Egan who outpaced the Éire Óg defence and stuck the ball into the top corner of the net at the end of a sequence of play that displayed everything that is great about the game of hurling.
Nine minutes before the break Simon Healy added a free to the Clane score and they held a remarkable nine point lead. Éiré Óg refused to give up though and five minutes before the interval Liam Power swept a cracking goal low past McKenna and into the bottom corner of the net to give his side some hope. Christansen and Clifford swapped long range points shortly after but it was Éiré Óg who had the final say of the half through centre back Gary Johnson, who left it 2-5 to 1-3 with a point on the stroke of halftime.
Moore extended the Clane lead to six points just after the restart but Éiré Óg then took command reeling off three points on the trot through Johnson, and Clifford (2) to cut the gap to just three points ten minutes into the second period, while Clane had McKenna to thank for keeping them in front with a couple of fine stops.
Healy fired a reply from a free for Clane but Power responded to leave the game in the balance. However, five minutes and a barrage of Clane scores later and the game was as good as over.
First Healy cut in to fire over a point from an acute angle before a long ball in from Christansen caused havoc in the Éiré Óg defence and Shane Ryan was able to find the back of the net at the second attempt.
Egan followed that up with a point and then in the 46th minute Ryan was again on target when his low effort had too much power for Dylan Hannon.
Clane now led by eleven points and although Éiré Óg kept fighting they could not find a way past the inspired McKenna who kept out a number of efforts from Dempsey and his team-mates.
Johnson did get a point back for Éiré Óg but another goal for Clane, this time for Christansen left the result in little doubt despite points from Clifford, Zac Boland and Declan Boyle in the closing minutes.
Paddy McKenna, Oisin McKenna, Sean O’Rourke, Oran Kelly, Andy Malone, Diarmuid Crowley, Conor Greham, Mikey O’Reilly, Sean Christansen (1-3, 0-2 65) , Tommy Cribbin (1-0), Finn Moore (0-2), Cathal Egan (1-1), Simon Healy (0-3), Conor Martin, Shane Ryan (2-0). Subs used; Neil Mooney for Healy (53 mins), Ryan Sullivan Martin (54 mins), Cathal O’Brien for Moore (59 mins), Eimhin Gillman for O’Reilly (59 mins).
ÉIRÉ ÓG corrachoill
Dylan Hannon, Cathal McGrath, Darragh Barron, Cathal Dempsey, Declan Boyle (0-1), Gary Johnson (0-3), Shane Dempsey, Declan Keane, Niall Connolly, Zac Boland (0-1), Evan Dempsey, Anton Byrne, Evan Dunne, Paul Clifford (0-5, 0-2f), Liam Power (1-1). Subs used; Ronan Whelan for Byrne (51 mins).