Cunningham leads Tones back to Feile glory after 17 year gap
Feile na nGael final
By Michael O Connor.
A small revolution or return of hurling names is underway in Shannon if the team line up is evidence and most definitely the hurling style as they ripped up Cusack park with pace and hurling prowess to claim the 2011 feile na nGael title denying Clarecastle in some style in ideal conditions.
Prematch debate suggested a win for Wolfe Tones side against Clarecastle who scrapped home against 2009 under 12A champions Sixmilebridge. The opening five minutes resulted in one attack for Clarecastle in the opening salvo that was repelled with ease. Wolfe Tones had dominance but three wides. Clarecastle took heart from this and when Darren Crowe pointed the opening score from a free in the 6th minute one could feel that Clarecastle were not going to drop without a fight.
Paul Dolan had the ball in the Shannon net seconds later but had taken 10 steps. Whilst Wolfe Tones were the more physically developed side Clarecastle had real determination to be strong contenders. Aaron Shanagher finally had the favourites on the scoreboard from play in the 8th minute. The second score took five minutes to materialise and it fell to Shannon full forward Jack Cunningham under pressure from tight Clarecastle markers. Clarecastle Dean O Hara had a half chance for a goal straight from the puck out but his effort tailed wide.
A 16th minute free by Cunningham stretched the Tones lead to two but once again Clarecastle looked capable of creating chances. The battle between Hayden Starr and Paul Dolan was won in the first half by the Wolfe Tones centre back and eventually Wolfe Tones began through the dominance of Dean Devanney to pepper the Clarecastle rearguard with more regularity. Aaron Shanagher and Darragh McMahon added points with ease to stretch the Shannon lead to four points before the crucial score of the first half was blasted to the net by Jack Cunningham after 23 minutes. Jack Murphy struck for a Magpie point with five minutes to go in the opening half as the remaining minutes of the half were dominated by Wolfe Tones with Aaron Cunningham rounding off the scoring to leave the 1994 champions (1-6) to (0-2) clear.
Clarecastle engineered a variety of positional changes for the second half to breathe new life into the title race. They very nearly had a goal in the opening seconds as Adam Cassidy’s well struck shot was brilliantly saved by Cian Collopy. The puck out saw Wolfe Tones turn the save into a score as Cunningham once again showed too much for Clarecastle to handle. Adam Cassidy scored a hard earned Clarecastle point after Cunningham, Kevin Justice with a huge free and Brian O Connor with a score each left the Tones (1'-10) to (0-3) ahead. Paul Dolan with what appeared even with twenty minutes plus to play like a concession score from a free. Jake Kearney had to be alert to deny Cunningham from an acute angle. The 24 mentors and waterboys on the sideline over the course of the game ensured that the ear of Rory Hickey was always tested. Brian O Connor ground pulled for Shannons second goal in the 50th minute to open a 13 that finished as 16 at the end point as the Wolfe Tones support who have been starved for years could now taste success. Fittingly it was the first occasion since the Feile na nGael cup was donated by the Keane family in memory of Brendan Keane in 1997 who done so much for Shannon and was linked to the glory feile years in the 1980s that it was presented to a Shannon man. Best for the winners were Kevin Justice, Dean Devanney Daniel Claire, Darragh McMahon, Sean Costello, Aaron Shanagher, Evan O Gorman and Jack Cunningham. Clarecastle after a promising opening quarter were unable to cope with Shannon’s pace and strength at midfield and in the central attacking positions. Their best included Jake Kearney, Fiachra Cooney, Paul Dolan in the second half, Darren Crowe and Adam Cassidy.
WOLFE TONES: Cian Collopy, Michael Hayes, Daniel Clair, Sean Costello, Robbie Meaney Kevin Justice (0-2), Ross O Connor, Darragh McMahon (0-1), Dean Devanney, Cian Pettigrew (0-1), Aaron Shanagher (0-3), Evan O Gorman, Shane Nihill, Jack Cunningham (1-6), Brian O Connor (1-1). Subs: Jamie Divilly for Nihill, Philip Leahy for O Connor, Eoghan Gough for Hayes.
CLARECASTLE: Jake Kearney, Fiachra Cooney, Kevin Mulcaire, Kevin Hartigan, Darragh Crimmins, Hayden Starr, Josh Kelly, Adam Cassidy (0-1), Darren Crowe (0-1), Rory Crimmins, Paul Dolan (0-2), Jack Murphy (0-1), Dean O Hara, Jack Hayes, Mark McAuliffe. Subs: Mark O Loughlin for O Hara, Cian Donnelly for Murphy, Conor Ryan for Hayes, Matthew Fahy (1-0) for Cassidy,
REFEREE: Rory Hickey (Eire-og).
After the game Mrs Imelda Keane presented the Brendan Keane Feile na nGael memorial cup to Kevin Justice who represents one of the hurling dynasties within the Wolfe tones club.
Match Reports >