Mungret-St Paul’s claim Limerick Junior ‘A’ title after penalty shoot-out victory over Feenagh-Kilmeedy

By John Redington Limerick Leader Sport

MUNGRET-ST PAUL’S are celebrating Woodlands House Hotel Limerick junior ‘A’ hurling final success following their dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over a gallant Feenagh-Kilmeedy side at Kilmallock on Sunday afternoon.

The teams had been tied at Mungret-St Paul’s 2-16, Feenagh Kilmeedy 1-19 and again at 2-21 to 1-24 after extra-time before the city side claimed the title 4-1 following a dramatic penalty shoot-out.

“It took forever to get a result, but it’s a huge achievement for any club to win a county championship with their second team,” was how manager Mike Fitzgerald reacted to the Mungret-St Paul’s county final success, repeating their win of 2006 with their first choice selection at the time.

Although both the winners and Feenagh-Kilmeedy, squeezed out by the smallest of margins from returning to intermediate ranks after a seven-year absence, had their sides anchored around a few battle-hardened veterans, most of the players on the field were the product of youth policies that have turned around their fortunes in recent seasons.

The exuberance the players from both sides brought to an absorbing contest showed in the non-stop effort over 80+ minutes on a sticky, energy-sapping surface.

Maybe Mungret just about deserved the outcome given that they looked to have done just about enough coming up to the end of both normal and extra-time, but it was only when goalie Declan Browne stopped two shoot-out penalties and converted one of his own that they finally shook off the unquenchable determination of their opponents.

The winners led 1-11 to 1-7 at half-time in normal time, with Eoghan Mulcahy goaling for Mungret-St Paul’s and Maurice Fitzgibbon raising a green flag for Feenagh-Kilmeedy.

The Kilmeedy club’s all-action restart yielded points from Cian O’Connor and David Boyce. However, they were soon overtaken by points from their opponents courtesy of Mike Mullins, Chams Jagana, John Wright and O’Brien’s free.

However, Mungret-St Pauk’s intensity dropped once the lead reached eight points, allowing their opponents to take over the middle third.

Quickfire scores from Fitzgibbon and Luke Ryan got them moving. Points then from Ruairi O’Connor, a Diarmuid Coleman free and Luke Ryan brought the gap back to two points before the nerves caused a few chances to go astray.

However, Feenagh-Kilmeedy found their way back on track with Coleman sending oveer two frees to equalise and Seán Murray following up to put them ahead.

The Mungret-St paukl’s puckout found its way up to O’Brien to strike back and their next attack found Mullins who was fouled for a penalty.

Topscorer O’Brien drove into the far corner and the city side were still three points ahead as the watch ticked into added time.

However, to their credit, Feenagh found a second breath and, in a rip-roaring finish, drew two frees for Coleman to point before Ryan’s last gap puck sent the decider into extra time.

Early Feenagh wides were punished by O’Brien, but Ryan immediately pointed as did Fitzgibbon to JJ Harrington’s reply before giving his side the lead. O’Brien tied up the scores again, only for a Coleman pointed free to leave the Kilmeedy club ahead 1-23 to 2-19 ahead at the end of the first period of extra-time.

With muscles tying up and lungs emptying of gas, chances were missed at both ends before O’Brien sent over a 100-metre free and then followed up from play.

They could have sealed the deal when Harrington split the defence but Wright just failed to connect with his pass across the face of the goals and Feenagh-Kilmeedy, after fluffing a few chances, finally drew a last-puck free for Coleman to send the championship to penalties.

O’Brien struck first for Mungret, Browne then saved Coleman’s effort and then followed by burying his own effort.

His opposite number Mike Bergin then struck Feenagh’s first success before being beaten by Moloney and, after Browne brought off his second save off Boyce, Harrington strode up to promote the Raheen club’s second string hurlers to intermediate ranks.

SCORERS: MUNGERT-ST PAUL’S: Mark O’Brien 1-11 (1-0 penalty, 0-5 frees, 0-1 ’65’), Eoghan Mulcahy 1-1, Diarmuid Hynes 0-3, Mike Mullins 0-2, Cian Moloney, Chams Jagana, John Wright, JJ Harrington 0-1 each;
FEENAGH-KILMEEDY: Diarmuid Coleman 0-12 (10 frees), Maurice Fitzgibbon 1-3, Luke Ryan 0-4, James O’Regan, Bryan Hannigan, David Boyce, Ruairí O’Connor, Seán Murray 0-1 each.