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U21 hurlers advance to final after entertaining contest

Robert Emmets recorded a fine victory over defending champions Croke Rovers in the Duhallow Under 21 Hurling Championship semi final, played at Tullylease on Tuesday evening. In doing so, Robert Emmets have qualified for the final for a third successive year, emerging from an excellent contest by 2-19 to 1-20.

Robert Emmets had the assistance of the breeze in the first half and opened the scoring thanks to a long range point from impressive midfielder Conor O’Keeffe. Barry O’Connor and Donal Hannon increased the lead before Croke Rovers landed their first point in the tenth minute. Donal Hannon added four points in succession from frees, open play and a sublime sideline cut as Robert Emmets built up a lead of 0-7 to 0-1 by the end of the first quarter. Croke Rovers added two points but Robert Emmets impressed as another string of points from Donal Hannon, Michael Cottrell, Michael McSweeney and Barry O’Connor stretched the lead to eight points by the twenty seventh minute. However, a couple of lapses, minutes before the interval cost Robert Emmets dearly as Croke Rovers exploited a few sloppy errors. In a two minute spell, Croke Rovers plundered a goal and three points to suddenly cut the deficit to just two points. However, Robert Emmets responded as a delivery goalwards from Barry O’Connor resulted in Michael McSweeney flicking home for a vital goal. Croke Rovers added a late point as Robert Emmets ended the half with a lead of 1-11 to 1-7.

Croke Rovers pointed a free within a minute of the restart as a memorable second half unfolded. Darren O’Sullivan replied with a point and the sides went on to share another two points, Michael Cottrell on target for Robert Emmets. Croke Rovers made use of the elements and four points in a five minute spell, tied the sides for the first time at 1-13 each after forty two minutes. Robert Emmets regained the lead instantly as substitute Tadgh Ryan pointed and he was a central figure in his sides fortunes for the remainder of the game. Croke Rovers had the next three points as they took the lead for the first time, with a two point advantage. Robert Emmets were in determined mood and Jamie Hayes was a colossus in defence with Daragh Kearney, Conor O’Keeffe, Donal Hannon and Tadgh Ryan also prominent performers. Tadgh Ryan and Donal Hannon from a free restored parity at 1-16 apiece as the game entered a gripping final ten minutes. Conor O’Keeffe landed a massive point from distance before Croke Rovers found an instant equalizer. Donal Hannon regained the lead for Robert Emmets from a free before the games critical score. With five minutes remaining, Jonathan Flaherty gathered possession and amongst a crowd of players he offloaded to Tadgh Ryan who kept his composure to drill a fine goal at a vital stage of the match. True to form, Croke Rovers were soon causing problems at the other end of the pitch and were awarded a penalty. A point was the outcome which ensured Robert Emmets held a three point advantage. Another Croke Rovers point followed but Conor O’Keeffe hit a crucial point for Robert Emmets as the final moments unfolded. Croke Rovers added a free but the Robert Emmets defence stood firm and as the final whistle was blown, they ran out victors by two points from a hugely entertaining game of hurling.

They will now face Kanturk in the final at Banteer on Saturday evening, August 16th at 7pm.


The Newmarket team and scorers…
Donal Hannon (0-8), Tadgh Ryan (1-2), Michael McSweeney (1-1), Conor O’Keeffe (0-3), Barry O’Connor (0-2), Michael Cottrell (0-2), Darren O’Sullivan (0-1).

Darragh Kearney
Colm Noonan Paudie Allen Jack Guiney
Sean McSweeney Jamie Hayes Alan Ryan
Gavin Forde Conor O'Keeffe
Michael Cottrell Donal Hannon Jacko Flaherty
Darren O'Sullivan Barry O'Connor Michael McSweeney
Subs: Tadgh Ryan, Daniel Norton

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