Newcastle West complete senior and Premier Junior A football double:

By John Redington Limerick Leader Sport

NEWCASTLE WEST made history by completing the first-ever county senior/junior football championship double since restricted grading was introduced 35 years ago when their second string held off the challenge of Feenagh-Kilmeedy in Athea this Saturday afternoon.

Although they struggled to find form before the break despite the advantage of the slope and the stiff breeze, the experience their younger players gained from underage success and the more experienced in their lineup from senior championship titles gave them a tried and trusted gameplan that their opponents weren’t quite able to break down.

Feenagh-Kilmeedy gave it everything from the throw-in to grab a quick lead with the game’s only goal which wasn’t overtaken until the last kick of the first half.

Their dream start began with Luke Ryan collecting off a mark, skinning in from the left and laying off to John O’Gorman who crashed to the net.#

but it was immediately met by Stephen Kelly colleting off the resulting kick-out to split the posts. Pushing forward again, Ryan hit back through Ryan but their next forays forwards failed to make the final connection.

Exploiting Feenagh-Kilmeedy’s lack of prowess in front of goal, Joey Healy, Brian Hurley and Niall McAuliffe all struck from distance to level the score for Newcastle West by the quarter hour.

Feenagh-Kilmeedy continued to dominate possession as Newcastle packed everyone behind the ball and regained the lead when Colm Ryan raced onto the hand pass to hit the target.

Healy equalised once more for Newcastle West and then Hurley to put them ahead 0-6 to 1-2 for the first time before the sides headed into the dressing-rooms.

Newcastle pressed forward on the restart to deny their opponents getting an immediate boost from the breeze but, after they extended their lead off an Ethan Hurley free and were then hit back by O’Gorman’s strike on the turn.

Sub Michael Blashkiv pointed within a minute of being introduced while down at the other end, Feenagh’s shots in reply were failing to find the target.

Feenagh-Kilmeedy’s momentum faded when Ethan Hurley converted another free just past the three-quarters mark. Ryan managed to convert a free but that was met by a John Whelan reply and that was that as Newcastle West landed yet another county title.

SCORERS – NEWCASTLE WEST: Joey Healy, Brian Hurley, Ethan Hurley (0-2 frees) 0-2 each, Stephen Kelly, Niall McAuliffe, Michael Blashkiv, John Whelan 0-1 each.

SCORERS – FEENAGH-KILMEEDY: John O’Gorman 1-1, Colm Ryan (0-1 free) 0-2, Luke Ryan 0-1.

NEWCASTLE WEST: Andrew Ruddle; Joey Woulfe, Colm Foley, Oisín Brennan; John Whelan, Brian O’Doherty, Evan Sheehan; Joey Healy, Lee Woulfe; Brian Hurley, Stephen Kelly, Oisín Collins; Niall McAuliffe, Ethan Hurley, Ben Finnegan.

SUBS: Darragh Woods for Evan Sheehan (half-time), Michael Blashkiv for Colm Foley (40 minutes), Jack Duggan for Ben Finnegan (44 minutes), Jack O’Connor for Oisín Brennan (58 minutes), Ross Donovan for Stephen Kelly (61 minutes),

FEENAGH-KILMEEDY: Dan Gayer; Bobby Donegan, Maurice Fitzgibbon, Michael O’Connor; Seán Kelly, Bryan Hannigan, David Boyce; John O’Gorman, Dylan Murray O’Connor; Diarmuid Ryan, Cian O’Connor, Diarmuid Coleman; Luke Ryan, Colm Ryan, Ruairí O’Connor.

SUBS: John O’Regan for Michael Brennan (40 minutes), Pat Donnelly for Dylan Murray O’Connor (40 minutes), Ger O’Gorman for Diarmuid Ryan (46 minutes), Ronan O’Connor for Luke Ryan (58 minutes).

REFEREE: Mike Sexton (Bruree).