This was a pulsating Nipper Quinn final between two evenly matched sides. The standard of hurling was incredible with all the attributes of quality hurling on display for the large contingent of supporters from both sides; first touch, catching, striking, hooking, blocking and score taking.
Naomh Pól opened the scoring with a well-taken point but we immediately responded with a nice point from K Gorman. S. Smyth pointed a long range free put us into the lead but Naomh Pól then struck the first goal of the day and followed up with a point to open up a goal advantage. This didn’t knock us out of our stride and points from S. Smyth (0-2) and C. Mulligan soon had us back on level terms. Both sides traded further points with M. Jones on the mark with a point following a pinpoint pass, which he took on the run and his shot sailed over the bar. We finished the half strongly and further points from S. Smyth, one free and a 65 gave us a 2-point half time lead 0-8 to 1-3.
Naomh Pól reduced the deficit with a point on the restart but as in the first half, K. Gorman responded to maintain our 2-point advantage. A brace of Naomh Pól points, one from a 65 brought the sides level but again K. Gorman pointed to edge us back into the lead. Naomh Pól then enjoyed a profitable spell in the game with three goals, however, points from S Smyth, (0-4) and A. Downey left a goal between the sides. A rasping shot to the back of the Naomh Pól net from S. Smyth then brought the sides level again and set up a pulsating finale to an excellent game. Naomh Pól added further points to gain the upper hand but P. Walsh struck the sliotar past the Naomh Pól keeper to give us the minimum lead. Naomh then replied with their fifth goal of the afternoon to move back into the lead and with the clock, ticking down we gave it one final effort. We were awarded a free in front of the goal and as S. Smyth stepped up to take it, he had no other option but to go for goal. He struck the sliotar with ferocity towards the Naomh Pól net but it was well stopped on the goal line and as the sliotar was cleared up field, the referee called time with Naomh Pól the winners on a score of 2-15 to 5-8.
While the players were despondent after the game they should be applauded for the effort and commitment they have shown and the enjoyment, entertainment and buzz they have created around the club. They are a credit to their coaches, mentors and parents. There will be other winning days in the future, for sure.
Congratulations to Naomh Pól on their win.
Click here for photos of the game