Last Saturday night in Mitchelstown we took on old foes Araglen in the quarter-final of this year’s County Junior B Hurling Championship and at stake was a semi-final date with Randal Og to be played in two weeks time.
We went in to this tie knowing that it would take a big effort and a full hour of hurling to beat a tough experienced Araglen team, that had not lost a competitive game of hurling all year.
Before the game the weather gods decided that the recent sunny spell had to come to an end and there was a long thunder shower which made underfoot conditions very slippery for both teams.
We started the game at a frantic pace and held a lead of 0-6 to 0-1 after ten minutes with six different players getting on the score sheet which was very pleasing to see.
First on the board was Brian O’Reilly and this was followed by quick-fire points from Alan Sheedy, Vincent Burke, Brian Sheedy, Jerome Fitzgerald and a beauty from wing-back Padraig Fitzgerald.
We were totally dominating the game at this stage and all Araglen could muster was a pointed free from close range. We did not let up on the pressure and with our goal keeper Declan Fitzgibbon and inside back line of Eoin McHugh, Richard Burke and Jonathan Dennehy keeping the Araglen attack under wraps our forwards were seeing plenty supply of ball.
In the 15th minute wing-forward Jerome Fitzgerald was on hand to rifle the ball to the net after a good build-up from Haulie Burke and Alan Sheedy – this put us into an 8pt lead and we were working hard all over the field to close down any Araglen attacks.
Our opponents had a second point from play to close the gap, but from there to half time we didn’t let up and more quality points were added from Jerome, Brian, Colman, Darren and Eoin O’Regan (0-2), to give us a massive half time lead of 1-12 to 0-02.
Our team management of Conor Hannon, Pat Walsh, Tom Palmer and Jim O’Sullivan were very happy with our first half performance and the team talk was simply to keep up the same pressure in the second half and not to let them back in the game – as we knew they would not give up at any stage.
The first 15 minutes of the second half was even enough with both teams adding four points each – with ours coming from Haulie, Brian O’Reilly and Colman O’Reilly (0-2).
This put us in a good position going into the last quarter and with Sean Lynch dominating the centre-back position we were not going to let the game go at this stage.
Araglen to there credit didn’t give in and kept plugging away and they had a goal from a close range free with ten minutes remaining, they followed this up with two more quick points to put some gloss on the score board.
We had the luxury of missing a one-on-one penalty when Brian Sheedy saw his effort go inches wide after Jamie was taken down going through on goal, but we added the last points of the match when Paul Burke – who had replaced his brother Vincent – was fouled and this was popped over by Jamie Sheedy – who had earlier replaced Colman O’Reilly.
The last score of the game was scored by the impressive Brian O’Reilly, who blasted high over the bar from a tight angle to give us a win that we richly deserved and sealed our progress to the semi-final for the second year running.
We will play Randal Og in the semi-final and this will be a difficult task as they are will be well up for this after their fine win in the other quarter final. Dromtarriffe and Bantry Blues play the other semi-final with the final fixed for the 19th of July.
Team and scorers: Declan Fitzgibbon, Richard Burke, Eoin McHugh, Jonathan Dennehy, Eoin O’Regan (0-2), Sean Lynch, Padraig Fitzgerald (0-1), Hallie Burke (0-2), Darren Roche (0-1), Jerome Fitzgerald (1-2), Brian Sheedy (0-1), Brian O’Reilly (0-3), Alan Sheedy (0-1), Vincent Burke (0-1), Colman O’Reilly (0-3).
Subs: Jamie Sheedy (0-1), for Colman O’Reilly inj 40min, Paul Burke for Vincent Burke inj 45min, Stephen Donegan, Robert McHugh, Shaun Cronin, Dylan O’Callaghan, Mick O’Donovan, James Hayes, Dave Twomey, Brian O’Regan, Eamon Fitzgerald, Brendan Hayes, Kenneth Barry and Jimmy Burke.