St. Patrick’s, Ballyragget (Kilkenny) 0-19
Glenealy (Wicklow) 1-15
The Wicklow champions Glenealy were 16/1 before the ball was thrown in for this Leinster Final in Nowlan Park yesterday. It only took a couple of seconds for all present to know that the Wicklow representatives were no 16/1 shots. They settled instantly and brought the game to their hosts from the off with the usual belief that they show when wearing the famous red jersey. This was a gripping game that had it all in terms of what’s good in the GAA.
Could a Wicklow team make the journey to the back yard of one of the elite counties and beat their champions on their home turf? Every Glenealy player and fan that travelled believed they could and it showed.
Sadly, it won’t be remembered by the hurling fraternity in Wicklow for anything other than a bitter defeat where the ending didn’t do justice to what had went before. Not since Tony Soprano looked up in that final scene of the hit show and the screen went black has this writer been so disappointed. That night the TV was lucky to escape intact and sadly events in Nowlan Park had the same feel about them yesterday.
The Kilkenny men will possibly go on to win this All-Ireland title but they won’t get a test like they did yesterday until they take their place amongst Kilkenny’s elite in next years senior championship. Toreen from Mayo provide their semi-final opposition.
They were lucky yesterday and they were gracious enough after the game to admit that a huge slice of luck had come their way in the unaccountable performance of the officials in the closing stages. Up to those final minutes it had been a game where the referee had not been central to anything other than being a participant in a fine game of hurling.
Baffling, strange, weird, astounding, erratic, odd and robbery are just some of the printable words used on various Social Media platforms to describe the young Dublin whistlers last moments in a game that he should never forget either. It will make or break him but yesterday he and his contemporaries broke Glenealy hearts in those final moments as decision after bewildering decision went St Pats way.
A 45th minute Wayne O’Gorman goal had shook Nowlan Park as the big Glenealy following celebrated, it put him and his Glenealy team-mates into a 1-11 to 0-12 lead, but despite performing heroically, they couldn’t hold on as a late Kevin Kelly free as the clock showed 62 minutes and 32 seconds won it for Ballyragget. After O’Gorman’s goal St Pats pointed instantly but two more from Leighton Glynn and John Manley had Glenealy leading 1-13 to 0-13 in the 49th minute.
Kelly top-scored with 0-11, while Jonathan O’Neill led the Glenealy scoring charge with 0-8. Bosco was awesome in a clever display again showing that the first five yards are in your head as he hurled more ball on the day than anybody else.
Glenealy showed from the start that they were good hurlers. The worked really hard, and they used the ball well.
They led twice during the first half, and shared parity three times. Despite the accuracy of Kilkenny senior star Kevin Kelly, Glenealy led by 0-6 to 0-5 after 20 minutes and by 0-9 to 0-8 at half-time. In the end it was a late point from Joe Brennan that gave St Pat’s an interval lead of 0-9 to 0-8 after playing against the breeze. Robert and Jamie Byrne had pointed while Emmet Byrne was revelation in a man of the match display as he saw off a number of direct opponents.
Glenealy grew even stronger after the turn, and a small thing could have seen them pull off victory and one of the shocks of the season. Uncontrollable events determined otherwise.
The song that big Tony put on the Jukebox in that final episode was Journey’s “Don’t stop believing”, Glenealy will be back because they always believe.
Glenealy – Jonathan O’Neill (0-8); Wayne O’Gorman (1-0); Roberet Byrne (0-2); John Manley, Jamie Byrne, Enan Glynn, Leighton Glynn, Gavin Weir (0-1 each).
SCORERS: St Patrick’s – Kevin Kelly (0-11); Seoirse Kenny, Michael Brennan, Brian ‘Brook’ Phelan (0-2 each); Joe Brennan, Paddy Brennan (0-1 each).