Feakle/Killanena amalgamation celebrated victory in the U21 ‘A’ hurling championship with a well-earned win over Inagh/Kilnamona. Hunger can be the greatest incentive for any team but a small community rooted in sport can also revel in success, in Cusack Park recently Feakle/Killanena ticked all the boxes to take the laurels.
Clare U21 A Hurling Championship Final
When referee Damian Fox sounded his final whistle, supporters of Feakle/Killanena ran amok with sheer joy, none more so than well known hurling man Tommy Guilfoyle whose joy was compounded by having a son as selector and daughter as physio.
This was a repeat of the exciting 2016 final, many tipped Feakle/Killanena to go a step further and give a huge boost to the East Clare amalgamation. Meanwhile the McCarthy clan and David Fitzgerald were intent on making it two in a row for Inagh/Kilnamona who are tipped for a strong run in this year’s Canon Hamilton.
The opening score fell to speedster Sean Glynn after two minutes. Aidan McCarthy responded from a free after a powerful upfield run by David Fitzgerald. A Fiachra Donnellan free after eight minutes was cancelled by Aidan McCarthy who turned Evan McMahon before adding a third within seconds.
Steven Conway and Fiachra Donnellan had Feakle/Killanena a point clear after 18 minutes as Inagh/Kilnamona were on the backfoot. Donnellan’s third point sent his team two clear before a powerful hurl pass from Jason McCarthy released David Mescall who unleashed a rocket to the top corner past Michael Burke.
Donnellan (free) and Aidan McCarthy swopped scores by the 22nd minute to leave the reigning champions 1-4 to 0-6 ahead. Austin McMahon levelled proceedings with a long-range effort before Aidan McCarthy hit the lead point as the game entered the final three minutes of normal time. Evan McNamara won a penalty for Inagh/Kilnamona which was blasted over the bar by Jason McCarthy.
The final score of the half fell to Enda Noonan with his second point to leave the Mid Clare side 1-7 to 0-9 in front at the break. The second half was only a minute old when both sides added to their tallies courtesy of Jason McCarthy and Fiachra Donnellan as Inagh/Kilnamona retained their one point advantage.
Once again Fiachra Donnellan levelled from a free after five minutes that ended with David Fitzgerald and Martin Daly entering the ref’s notepad. Feakle/Killanena took the lead through Donnellan in the 46th minute. Enda Noonan’s third point of the day left his side two clear in the 47th minute as the McCarthy brothers were under the cosh of the East Clare defence.
Substitute Eric Conway won a free which was popped over by Donnellan as the lead extended to three only for David Mescall to cut the deficit to two with nine minutes remaining. David Fitzgerald was now playing at centre forward and he sent over a long range free. Another long range free from Fitzgerald was tipped to the net by Evan McNamara but was adjudged to be a square ball.
Steven Conway and Fiachra Donnellan hit with a brace to put the champions-elect three clear as four minutes of injury time were called. Inagh/Kilnamona were thrown a lifeline but Fitzgerald’s 63rd minute free was saved and seconds later Feakle/Killanena were crowned champions.
Best for the winners were Evan McMahon, Dara McNamara, Con Smyth, Toby O’Meara who is one for the future, Enda Noonan was the surprise packet with three match winning scores whilst Cathal Noonan worked hard. Fiachra Donnellan copied the feats of his father and older brother Oisin in the free taking stakes whilst Martin Daly was a battering ram all day.
Inagh Kilnamona did little wrong bar having their key forwards corralled in the second half. Their better performers included David Fitzgerald, Jason McCarthy, Aidan McCarthy, Cian McInerney, Keith White and David Mescall. After the game county board chairman Joe Cooney presented the under 21A cup to joint captains Sean Glynn and Evan McMahon as celebrations.