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Raheny rally!

A MAGNIFICENT second-half performance proved decisive for Raheny at St Anne's Park on Sunday morning, as Dave Geary's side held off the challenge of Ballinteer St John's to secure the Under-15 Hurling League Division Two title.

A fortuitous Cian Shelly goal in first-half stoppage-time had given Ballinteer a three-point cushion (1-7 to 1-4) at the mid-way point, but with midfielder Sean Grenham and corner-forward Luke Magner leading the way, Raheny were ultimately the superior outfit.

The northsiders had seven points to spare (1-10 to 0-6) when the two teams met back in March, and after defeating St Brigid's in the same venue on the road to the decider, they were confident of going one step further in the competition.

Ballinteer were in a rich vein of form themselves, and got the better of the previously-undefeated Uí Chonaill-Fontenoy at the semi-final stage.

With all this taken into consideration, the prospect of a nail-biting encounter loomed large, but it was Raheny who the brighter start to the action.

After claiming a long-delivery from Jack Fagan three minutes in, Magner split the posts from a tight angle, and this was followed swiftly by a superb solo goal courtesy of full-forward Ben McHugh.

McHugh has enjoyed recent success on the field of play with his school, Ardscoil Rís, and he showed great pace before finishing coolly beyond the reach of Ballinteer netminder Ruairí Kennedy.

This was the kind of start that Ballinteer would have been hoping to avoid on a slippery surface, but they eventually opened their account up and running on eight minutes with an excellent point on the run by midfielder Ian Sheridan.

The roving Eoin Joyce was the architect for this score, and despite seeing Grenham restore Raheny's four-point lead, his first point of the tie supplemented an outstanding long-distance free by centre-back Ciaran Rafter.

Subsequent swapped scores between Grenham and Jack Kenneally kept Raheny in the ascendancy, and even though Seán O'Flynn and the dynamic Grenham were agonisingly close to raising green flags in the 22nd and 25th minutes respectively, a second point for inside forward Magner arrived three minutes before the break.


However, just when the local side seemed destined to enter the second period with a slender advantage, Ballinteer suddenly burst into life.

Consecutive points from Shelly, Kenneally and Rafter (free) levelled matters, and they then took the lead for the first time when Raheny shotstopper Mitchell Carroll failed to deal with Shelly's speculative strike.

This was a sucker-punch for Raheny after a mostly positive first-half from their point of view, but with Seán Farrelly introduced to the fray, they quickly reduced the deficit thanks to points from Grenham and Magner within 60 seconds of the restart.

The All Saints Road boys were now playing with renewed vigour, and although Farrelly was denied by Kennedy, Magner pounced to register a 34th-minute major.

There was a sense that the tide might be turning against Ballinteer, and in spite of a much-needed reply from a placed-ball by Shelly, three unanswered points via Grenham (two) and O'Flynn had Raheny in pole position at the end of the third quarter.

The impressive Joyce continued to take the fight to Raheny, though, and his points 14 minutes from time ensured that Ballinteer were still firmly in contention.

Ballinteer had struggled to build on their strong conclusion to the opening period, but owing to strong defensive displays from Rory Merriman, Naoise Cronin and the talismanic Rafter, they still had a fighting chance of securing the silverware on offer.

This was as close as they came to toppling their opponents during the closing moments, however, and either side of Grenham's brace, O'Flynn placed the outcome beyond doubt by kicking to the net at the end of a prolonged goalmouth scramble.

Ballinteer remained resolute as the final whistle beckoned, and Rafter added a 0-2 salvo to his overall tally.

McHugh received his marching orders for a second yellow card offence on the stroke of 60 minutes, but Raheny were not to be denied a precious victory.

Scorers - Raheny: S Grenham 0-7 (6f); L Magner 1-3; S O'Flynn 1-1; B McHugh 1-0. Ballinteer St John's: C Shelly 1-2 (0-1f); C Rafter 0-4 (4f); J Kenneally, E Joyce 0-2 each; I Sheridan 0-1.

RAHENY: M Carroll; B Doolin, L Owens, T Keogh; G Atkins, P Kenny, A Finn; J Fagan, S Grenham; L Bossonnet, K Cummiskey, D Robinson; L Magner, B McHugh, S O'Flynn. Subs: S Farrelly for Cummiskey (h-t), L Dunne for Robinson (48).

BALLINTEER ST JOHN'S: R Kennedy; G Byrne, R Merriman, D Smith; N Cronin, C Rafter, P Watchorn; I Sheridan, B Smith; T McLoughlin, J Kenneally, C Shelly; J Sheehan, A Abdullah, E Joyce.

Subs: T Aherne for Sheehan (21), C Kissane for McLoughlin (41), C Barry for Abdullah (53).

MENTORS - Raheny: D Geary, N Grenham, P Nolan. Ballinteer St John's: M Rafter, K Sheehan, G Watchorn.

REF: A Burke (Na Dubh Ghall).

WIDES - Raheny: 3(1). Ballinteer St John's: 6 (3).

CONDITIONS: Mild and sunny with a gentle breeze.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Luke Magner (Raheny).