SHC Eochaill 2-14 Na Piarsaig 1-15
Youghal 2-14 Na Piarsaigh 1-15.
If Frank Keane, author of "Up The Youghal Boys" a best seller which was published way back in 1991, ever decides to write another book on the history of Youghal Gaa from that year up to the present time, then events that unfolded last Saturday night in Carrigtwohill will surely be one of his highlights.
If memory serves me right it is 30 years since the seaside town last won a Senior Championship hurling game and the celebrations were unbelievable at the full time whistle. Yes the club had a wonderful season last year, and to be back up senior was a dream come true but to beat a star strewn Piarsaigh side, and in the process secure senior status again for 2015 was nothing less than this battle hardened panel of players deserve. Maybe not a classic game of hurling, but the intensity over the full 60 minutes was immense. The loss to Newtownshandrum in the first round was something in the distant past, and this was a whole new ball game, confidence looked high among the players in the warm up and the huge following that this squad has behind them nowadays, were very vocal as soon as the ball was thrown in. Na Piarsaigh were on the score board in the first minute when influential corner forward Paudraigh Gould scored his first point and who contributed a total of 1-4 over the hour, before Brendan Ring had 2 points, one from a free, while in between Alan Keneally, nephew of former Cork great Tony O'Sullivan had another to level matters 0-2 a piece. Then Na Piarsaigh upped the tempo of the game and 4 unanswered points saw them lead 0-6 to 0-2 by the 10th minute. Bill Cooper stemmed the tide for Youghal with a beauty before Keith Buckley restored Na Piarsaigh's 4 point lead. Then came a brilliant passage of play from the Youghal lads that ended with Brendan Ring rattling the net with a superb goal in the 15th minute, followed within seconds by a point from the excellent Brett Moloney to leave the score midway through the first half 1-04 to 0-7. Brendan Ring and Stephen O'Sullivan exchanged points before Bill Cooper, who showed huge leadership qualities right throughout this game, was unceremoniously brought down in the square as he was about to unleash a shot for goal, by John Gardiner who was already on a yellow card and was lucky to escape without a second one for this infringement. As in the game against Newtownshandrum, up stepped Leigh Desmond to take the resultant penalty and bury the ball in the back of the net. Cian O'Mahony added a point for Na Piarsaigh to leave the score 2-5 to 0-9 before a huge turning point in this game. Na Piarsaigh looked to be in for a goal when Barry Ring, who had my nomination for man of the match brought off a miracle save and from the clearence Brett Moloney pointed at the other end for what in effect was a 4 point turnaround. Na Piarsaigh added 2 more points before the half time whistle to leave the game delecately balanced Youghal 2-06 Na Piarsaigh 0-11. In those first thirty minutes, and indeed even more so in the second half, the 6 Youghal backs performed majestically under intense pressure, and with Kenneth Walsh working like the proverbial "old dog for the hard road" one had the feeling that this was going to be a very special night for the seasiders. Na Piarsaigh started the second half without the services of John Gardiner and it was left to Sean Og O' Halpin and current Cork senior Christopher Joyce who lined out at midfield to try and ressurect Na Piarsaigh's fortunes.
The first few scores of the second half were going to be crucial and Youghal's latest Munster Senior Medal winner with Cork, Bill Cooper opened the scoring after five minutes with as good a score as will ever be seen in a hurling field, when he took the ball on the run out along side the sideline and off his left, pointed a beauty, to be followed by two more points from Brendan Ring to give Youghal a little breathing space, 2-09 to 0-11 before Piarsaigh got one back only for another one from a free by Brendan Ring and another from Alan Frahill O'Connor, playing his first full game since his leg surgery, left the score 2-11 to 0-13 with 15 minutes remaining, and Youghal looking good. From there to the finish Brendan Ring converted a free and a 65 to bring his tally for the hour to a whopping 1-8, and just as he did to win the County final last year with an injury time winner against Castleyons, super sub Ciaran O'Mahoney hit over a beauty to finish the scoring for Youghal and in the 26th minute Ritchie Cunningham, the Cork Intermediate goalkeeper who play Galway shortly in the All Ireland semi final, brought off a very courageous save, to deny the opposition a certain goal. Na Piarsaigh fought to the bitter end and had narrowed the gap to 5 points before Paudraigh Gould struck for a goal from a free deep into injury time to give the Youghal lads a nervy last few seconds. But it was Youghal's night, and nobody could deprive them of this latest marvellous victory. Congratulations to all involved and who knows, we might have to listen to O'Laochdha's version of " Sweet Yawl Bay" again, in Cricklewood sooner than we thought.
The draw for the 4th round was made after the game in Pairc Ui Chaoimh, and Youghal were paired with my own home village of Carrigtwohill (lovely) with the winners to play either Midleton or Douglas in the 1/4 final.
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