Last night (Wednesday) in Knocklong Bruff played Naomh Eoin in the County Minor ‘A’ Hurling Championship Final. This was an all ticket affair and even the County Board drafted in Paul Dennehy to keep a close eye on ticket touts! Even before the throw in, this match had the makings of a very tight affair with the local derby factor and it did not disappoint! It was score for score during the first fifteen minutes, with Josh Keating and David O’ Riordan unerring from placed balls. At the water break it was five points each. On resumption of the first half, Naomh Eoin got a stranglehold of the game and raced into a four point lead. However, after some good work by the Bruff backs the ball was worked to Josh Keating who was only denied by a superb save. The rebound came to Rory Coleman who unselfishly hand passed to Michael O’ Riordan to put the ball over the bar to leave the half time score 9 points to 6 in favor of Naomh Eoin.
Once the ball was thrown in for the second half, Naomh Eoin laid siege to the Bruff goals but some fantastic defensive work by our backs kept them at bay time and time again. When they did get through to the goals Darren Naughton was like man possessed and brought off two brilliant saves! Bruff kept the score board ticking over with Sean Murnane, Darragh Butler, Killian Bennett and Josh Keating all getting the umpire to raise a white flag. At the last water break Bruff were down by 3 points. Evan O’ Neill was introduced to the game and with his very first touch, he turned on a six pence and struck it straight between the posts. The white flag was greeted with a bigger cheer than his father winning in Cheltenham! Naomh Eoin responded with two points which Josh happily replied to with his own two points from frees to leave just two points between the teams with five minutes left in the game. A sideline ball taken by Oisin Mulqueen resulted in Diarmuid Dennehy working the ball up the side only to be impeded which resulted in a free. David O’ Riordan stood over the ball. There was a deafening silence as he rolled the ball up from forty yards. You could hear Dave Clarke say he’s going for it Ger! Without interruption the ball struck the top right hand corner of the net. From the resulting puck out Naomh Eoin got a point which Bruff replied to through captain Killian Bennett. Time was beginning to run into injury time and tensions were rising our fullback line stood firm. With the last play of the match James Callinan demonstrated a masterful blockdown which was picked up up by Patrick Finn who hit the ball the length of the field directly into Evan O’ Neills’ hand. It was at that moment that the referee blew full time. This was greeted by huge cheers and the occasional fist bump all done within the two metre guidelines. Killian Bennett was presented the cup by Hugh Murphy (Co PRO) who gave a lovely speech, thanking Garryspillane for field, the officials on the night and he gave special thanks to the team management of Eamon Butler, John Mulqueen, Declan Murnane, Dave Clarke (defence co-ordinater) and Liam Buckley (S&C coach). Finally, Killian gave special thanks to all the parents for the lifts to training and matches over the years, the players for their huge effort and to the Club who were very good to them. He finished with 3 cheers for Naomh Eoin for a very sporting and entertaining match. The team was Darren Naughton, John Foley, James Callinan, Daire O’ Brien, Oisin Mulqueen, Patrick Finn, David O’ Riordan, Sean Murnane, Darragh Butler, Diarmuid Dennehy, Killian Bennett, Gavin Bracken, Josh Keating, Rory Coleman, Michael O’ Riordan, Evan O’ Neill, Eoin O’Loughlin, Conor Hynes, Colm O’Loughlin, Oisin Feely, Brian Meany and Owen Meany. The scorers were Josh Keating (0-8, 0-6F), David O’ Riordan (1-2), Michael O’ Riordan (0-1), Killian Bennett (0-2), Darragh Butler (0-1), Sean Murnane (0-1) and Evan O’ Neill (0-1). The final score was Bruff 1-16 Naomh Eoin 0-17. Well done to all involved!!