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Saturday 14 December 2019

Navan Road boys advance

St Oliver Plunkett/ER 2-24 St Jude's 2-15, Dublin U21 'B' FC semi-final

ON THE RUN: St Oliver Plunkett’s/ER’s Seán McGreevy get aways from St Jude’s Kevin Lahiff during their Dublin U21 ‘B’ Hurling Championship semi-final at DIT Broombridge, Cabra. Photo: Steve Humphreys
ON THE RUN: St Oliver Plunkett’s/ER’s Seán McGreevy get aways from St Jude’s Kevin Lahiff during their Dublin U21 ‘B’ Hurling Championship semi-final at DIT Broombridge, Cabra. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Darkness had fallen over Broombridge on Saturday evening. The crowd were shuffling out. Through the puddles of the car park.

Somebody recalled the genius of Joey Towell. One of the greatest artists of them all. The Eoghan Ruadh God that can change timber to gold.

Then a famous goal was mentioned - the day a player headed the sliotar to the net!

There were many memorable moments in this Under-21 Hurling B Championship semi-final.

The DIT venue is nestled in the heartland of Cabra. Beside the Broombridge Train station. A puck away from one of the finest Bogey Boys, the Trollier.

The venue has an all-weather surface. The throw-in was delayed for half an hour because of a Frisbee competition!

Well, that's beats Banagher, mused the crowd. And a decent crowd it was.

In the art of Frisbee, it's all in the wrist. And there were plenty of Shane supple wrists on display in the hurling.

Young Tom Gleeson was the distinguished referee, and, from the off, the pace was copyright of Electric Ireland. The sliotar was dancing on ice. Picking up pace on the magic carpet.

In the first half, a stick broke. Yet despite its intensity, it was the most sporting of duels.

Denis Carr looked on. His son, Brendan, was the Lord Mayor of Dublin. Several of the scores here would have graced the walls of the Mansion House.

In the second period, Cillian Hayes of Plunkett's sent over a nugget. Seconds later, James Nugent of St Jude's also struck a point-of-the-season contender.

The All-Star in the building would have been happy to put his names to many of the scores that were recorded - the Dublin diamond, Danny Sutcliffe, managing St Jude's.

"It was a super game," said the St Oliver Plunkett/Eoghan Ruadh mentor, Aidan Phelan. "Just like it was last year in the final when they took us to extra-time.

"We just about came through that day, but when they drew level in the second half, I thought they were going to avenge that defeat.

"Yet we then hit three scores without reply and I felt that had a crucial bearing on the result.

"Our meeting last season was a dinger, and this was the same. Our fellas really had to put in a huge effort. As far as I am concerned, they all gave man-of-the-match displays."

The Plunkett's captain, Tom Hynes, was an inspirational figure. He brought such craft and focus to the tie.

Ben McSweeney was the engine of the Navan Road. Involved in all their best work. And that was a lot.

Sean McGreevy and David Phelan impressed in a compact Plunkett's defence. And they had to keep things tight, especially with full-forward, Kevin Roberts, on the beat.

The Templeogue left half-back, Ciarán Hogan, is the most accomplished of hurlers. "Lovely hurling, Ciarán," was the call from the terrace. The Jude's goalkeeper, Ross O'Reilly, made one of the saves-of-the-season.

It came in the first half as Plunkett's attacked the Railway End. Hayes sent in a pass which saw O'Reilly dive full length to deny John Hudson's strike.

Hayes was superb with the frees. And in the midfield zone with Conor Scully. The Tymon lads also brought much energy to the hour. Kevin Lahiff is a tidy finisher.

Hudson scored the first goal for Plunkett's as early as the second minute after a storming run in from the right by Irinel Popa.

Five minutes later, Sean Wynne found a yard and arrowed a fine strike to the right corner of Plunkett's basket.

Plunkett's up by 1-11 to 1-8 at the break, but five minutes into the second half they were level when Roberts kept his eye on Wynne's flying Frisbee to flick the ball to the net.

Then came those three telling Plunkett's points from Hayes (free), Phelan and Hynes. Plunkett's began to stretch away after that. Sean Clerkin and Magurel Popa adding to their neat collection of points.

And ten minutes from time, Hayes's delivery from the left was turned brilliantly to the net from a tight angle by Ian Sherry.

That extended Plunkett's lead to six points. And it was home boys, home.

Scorers - ST OLIVER PLUNKETT/EOGHAN RUADH: C Hayes 0-12 (9f), S Clerkin, M Popa 0-4 each, J Hudson, I Sherry 1-0 each, D Phelan, B McSweeney, T Hynes, I Popa 0-1 each. ST JUDE'S: S Wynne 1-1, K Lahiff C Nolan (3f) 0-4 each, K Roberts 1-0, J Nugent, C Hogan (1f) 0-2 each, M Fitzgerald, D O'Callaghan 0-1 each.

ST OLIVER PLUNKETT/EOGHAN RUADH: G Ryan; B Bergin, F Boland, R Howe; S McGreevy, D Phelan, T Cullen; C Scully, C Hayes; B McSweeney, T Hynes, S Clerkin; I Popa, J Hudson, M Popa. Sub: I Sherry for Hudson (inj, half-time).

ST JUDE'S: R O'Reilly; J Cadwell, C Smith, P Kavanagh; J Nugent, C McLoughlin, C Hogan; J Carthy, M Fitzgerald; S Wynne, A Connolly, C Nolan; K Lahiff, K Roberts, D O'Callaghan. Subs: C McDonagh for Nugent (38); P Hogan for Kavanagh (43); L McDermott for Fitzgerald (52).

MENTORS - ST OLIVER PLUNKETT/EOGHAN RUADH: F Hayes, A Phelan, D Brennan. ST JUDE'S: D Sutcliffe, M Nerney, B Moran, R Fitzgerald.

REFEREE: Tom Gleeson (Naomh Fionnbarra).

WIDES - ST OLIVER PLUNKETT/EOGHAN RUADH: 4 (1+3); ST JUDE'S: 8 (5+3).

CONDITIONS: Dry and mild.

PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Ben McSweeney (St Oliver Plunkett/Eoghan Ruadh)

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