Newmarket’s junior hurlers marched into the semi final of the Duhallow Championship following a well earned victory over championship stalwarts Freemount by 1-14 to 0-7 at Kilbrin on Saturday evening.
Newmarket began nervously as early touches deserted the side in the opening exchanges and Freemount capitalized to point within seconds of the throw in. Newmarket settled into the task at hand and gained parity in the fifth minute. Midfield dynamo Kevin O’Sullivan placed a ball into the corner from which team captain John Lane did superbly to gather possession and strike a fine point from a difficult angle.
Both sides wasted opportunities of points as shots drifted past the posts but Newmaket’s defence tightened and as a unit were outstanding throughout. Marshalled superbly in the central positions by Brendan and Robert Stack, they were flanked with magnificent displays from Ian Flanagan, Paudie Allen, Alan Ryan and Gavin Forde.
Donal Hannon edged Newmarket in front for the first time with his first pointed free from distance in the tenth minute and moments later Gavin Forde repeated the feat from an even longer range. Freemount ended their sixteen minute spell without a score as they pointed a free but Donal Hannon kept Newmarket in front by two with his artistry from placed balls.
As the tight contest unfolded both defences were extremely miserly but Freemount added a brace of points to tie the sides at 0-4 apiece after twenty two minutes. The sides exchanged frees as again Donal Hannon drilled a free between the posts from distance to tie the sides for a third time. Crucially for Newmarket they finished the half, in which they played into the slight breeze, in the ascendancy. The dazzling skills of Donal Hannon were a highlight and he placed John Lane in possession who in turn offloaded to Anthony Crowley and he landed a memorable point from out on the sideline.
As the half entered injury time, Newmarket created an inspirational score. Paudie Allen burst out from defence and together with Gavin Forde and Alan Ryan combined to place a text book pass towards Anthony Crowley whom again pointed in stunning fashion from a similar position to his first point. Donal Hannon added his fourth point of the half and Newmarket’s all round team effort was rewarded with a lead of 0-8 to 0-5 at the turnover.
Newmarket’s hopes were further lifted within two minutes of the restart. Anthony Crowley directed his shot towards the edge of the square which was gathered by Tony O’Keeffe and as the full forward rounded his opponent to close in on goal he was upended to force a penalty. Unfortunately for Newmarket the resultant shot was blocked but undeterred they created another clear cut opportunity three minutes later. Once again Tony O’Keeffe raced in on goal and from an acute angle he let fly with the boot which agonizingly flashed across the face of goal. A sixty five resulted in the following cameo and Donal Hannon registered the first point of the second half. The young talisman repeated the feat to increase the lead to 0-10 to 0-5 after seven minutes of the half.
Inevitably, Freemount stormed back but the Newmarket defence to a man were truly outstanding putting their bodies and hurleys on the line at every occasion demanded. The game became disjointed with several stoppages during a hard demanding encounter. Freemount added a point and with ten minutes of normal time remaining Barry O’Leary had to divert a goalbound effort over the bar as the lead was cut to three points. Newmarket withstood the challenge as again Brendan Stack led the heroic rearguard.
At the other end, once more Donal Hannon obliged to point before the significant score of the game arrived seven minutes from time. Gavin Forde directed a long ball forward and yet again the industrious Tony O’Keeffe caused havoc in rounding the defence before being brought to the ground and Newmarket were awarded a second penalty. This time the net bulged as Donal Hannon drilled home for Newmarket to gain a seven point advantage. Newmarket grew even more in stature as the introduction of Barry O’Connor brought to six the number of minor players on the team. The substitute made a most telling contribution scoring two class points. Donal Hannon and Kevin O’Sullivan combined to place the ball into the corner and Barry O’Connor gathered and finished in style before he repeated the feat as the contest entered injury time.
The final score typified the Newmarket effort. Forwards harried and overturned possession as team captain John Lane gathered possession and launched the ball between the posts to seal a superb victory.
Newmarket now advance to the semi final for the first time since 2008.
The Newmarket team and scorers…
Donal Hannon (1-7), Anthony Crowley (0-2), Barry O’Connor (0-2), John Lane (0-2), Gavin Forde (0-1).
|Ian Flanagan||Robert Stack||Paudie Allen|
|Alan Ryan||Brendan Stack||Gavin Forde|
|Kevin O'Sullivan||John Ryan|
|Jacko Flaherty||Anthony Crowley||Donal Hannon|
|John Lane||Tony O'Keeffe||Michael Kenneally|
|Subs: Barry O’Connor|