Limerick champions Monaleen celebrate All-Ireland Junior ‘B’ hurling final success:

By John Redington Limerick Leader Sport

“AFTER 28 years of adult hurling, it’s great to be still here with all these young lads winning an All-Ireland medal,” was captain Damien Cosgrave’s reaction to Monaleen avenging their Munster final defeat against Tipperary champions Drom- Inch by capturing the All-Ireland junior B hurling title on a 2-11 to 0-8 scoreline in Raheenagh on Saturday afternoon.

Pegged back to single point going into the closing minutes, Limerick junior B champions Monaleen found another gear to kill off the result with a scintillating goal and two points inside a minute.

On a pitch that had held up during despite a week of heavy rain, it was always going to be test of endurance and, despite their second half wobble just after they grabbed their first goal, the younger Monaleen line-up had the edge in stamina and finishing to close off a result they always looked like achieving.

Although the laboured to gain an advantage for most of the first half, four unanswered points coming up to the break gave them the cushion to soak up the Tipp team’s response.

However, the real difference between the sides was up front where hotshots Ben Hayes and Max Ivory not only bagged their side’s entire haul, but also showed the nerve and the eye for the opportunity whenever the lead was under threat.

For fifty-three minutes, Drom-Inch put everything into keeping them at bay, but missed opportunities before and after the break prevented them from ever getting their noses in front on the scoreboard.

Tight play in the middle third failed to produce a score in the opening five minutes until Ivory raided in from the right to give Monaleen a lead that was levelled by a Paul Kennedy free. The teams remained locked on the scoreboard as another Ivory strike was met by a Kennedy free.

Ivory then got a chance to show his free-taking talents, before Diarmaid Brennan intercepted a long clearance to equalise but, after Hayes put Monaleen ahead again, they were then denied the chance of putting daylight between the sides when Dylan Crowe was blocked bearing down on goal.

Bouncing back from the missed opportunity, Monaleen dominated the run-in to the break as Ivory pointed from play and then added a pair of frees after Kennedy’s penalty for a foul on Pat Lupton was saved on the line.

However, Kennedy had the final word on the first half, pointing a free to narrow Monaleen’s lead to three points, 0-7 to 0-4.

Early Monaleen pressure on the restart failed to deliver a score but then, when Drom-Inch got the chance to respond after the intensity dropped, they shot three wides and paid on the double when Hayes ended 10 scoreless minutes by collecting off Ivory move to drill to the net.

It should have been the signal for the Limerick champions to move on, but instead it was their opponents who found the response and, once points from Kennedy’s free and Lupton brought the gap back to four, they began forcing the mistakes and drawing the fouls for Kevin Butler, Joey Maher and another Kennedy free to reduce the margin back to a single point with seven minutes to go.

However, a break from the siege shattered their hopes. A snap move between Crowe, Harry Gleeson and Ivory found Hayes to grab his second goal. Ivory then sent the resulting puckout back between the posts and the next one taken quickly was intercepted by Hayes to undo the entire Drom-Inch rally inside a minute.

Back in control, the Castletroy side weren’t going to be caught again and, as the subs got their chance to play in an All-Ireland final, Hayes’ and Ivory’s free ended the scoring.

SCORERS: MONALEEN: Ben Hayes 2-3, Max Ivory 0-8 (4 frees); DROM-INCH: Paul Kennedy 0-5 (5 frees), Diarmaid Brennan, Pat Lupton, Kevin Butler, Joey Maher 0-1 each.

MONALEEN: Muiris Ó Dálaigh; Darragh Clifford, Damien Cosgrave, Conor Carew; Noel Clancy, Conor Nicholas, Tom D’Arcy; Ben Murnane, Conal Ó Duinn; Ben Hayes,Cian O’Dwyer, Diarmaid Lehane; Max Ivory, Robbie O’Sullivan, Dylan Crowe. SUBS: Harry Gleeson for Lehane (51 minutes), Luke Ryan for Ben Murnane (53 minutes), Mike Doyle for Robbie O’Sullivan (62 minutes).

DROM-INCH: David Kinnane; Cathal Flynn, Andy Mullen, Jamie Ryan; Liam Harty, Enda Walsh, Diarmuid Mullen; Kevin Butler, Jack Johnson; Joe Lupton, Joey Maher, Jimmy Mullen; Micheál Butler, Paul Kennedy, Pat Lupton. SUB: Daniel McAllister for Liam Harty (44 minutes).

REFEREE: John Keenan (Wicklow).