The Newmarket hurlers can look forward to a Duhallow final for the first time since their title in 2019, needing extra time to get by a spirited Kilbrin side.
With the game originally planned for Sunday afternoon in Tullylease, it had to be relocated to Banteer at short notice due to fog at the original venue.
The opening exchanges set the tone for much of the match, with the sides level after ten minutes four points a piece, Hugh O’Connor, Donal Hannon, Conor O’Keeffe and Cathal Browne on target for Newmarket. The pattern continued as the half progressed with Paddy Browne, Barry O’Connor and Hugh O’Connor replying to Kilbrin efforts. It wasn’t until the 20th minute that either side put some distance between themselves and the opposition, with Hannon and Hugh O’Connor scoring for Newmarket. The advantage was pushed out to three minutes later when Darren O’Keeffe registered his first point of the contest. The gap was reduced to two on 28 minutes, with Donal Hannon converting two injury time frees to give Newmarket a hard fought 0-12 to 0-08 lead at the break.
Kilbrin were first off the mark after the resumption, with Hannon and Cathal Browne to quickly respond for Newmarket. A busy start to the half continued with a Kilbrin brace being followed up by another Hannon free, to leave four between the sides. One of the key moments of the fixture came on 40 minutes when Shane McAuliffe was adjudged to have fouled the oncoming Kilbrin forward, who was bearing down on goal, with referee Simon Stokes pointing to the spot. McAuliffe picked himself up from the clash and pulled off a fantastic save to his right. Darren O’Keeffe maintained the four point window between the sides on 43 minutes, but a brace from Kilbrin meant that there was just two between the sides entering the last quarter. A Donal Hannon free on 51 minutes and a 65 a few minutes later, preserved a three point lead for the league holders, with five minutes on the clock. A dramatic five minutes they turned out to be, as a more accurate Kilbrin side levelled the contest on 58 minutes and pushed in front moments later. Much to the relief of the Newmarket support, Hugh O’Connor struck an equalising point from distance as time expired. Despite ample injury time, neither side could find the winner and with the scoreboard reading 0-19 a piece, the referee blew the whistle to indicate extra time would be required.
With two additional halves to play, each of ten minutes, Newmarket started the brighter, scoring the first two points through Paddy Browne and Donal Hannon. Kilbrin responded well, quickly levelling the contest. Much of the remaining time in the half belonged to Newmarket. With a new found accuracy, they rattled off four unanswered points through Kevin O’Sullivan, Darren O’Keeffe and Donal Hannon (2), to put some space between the teams. As the half expired Kilbrin pulled one back, but the effort was cancelled out by Paddy Browne in the last act of the period.
A Donal Hannon brace of the frees on the resumption, completed his impressive thirteen point haul and gave his side a valuable six point advantage. Not for the first time, Kilbrin found their way back into the tie with a well taken goal, reducing the game to a puck of a ball. On their next attack Newmarket, through the ever dangerous Darren O’Keeffe, found the perfect reply as he dispatched an opportunist ball to the Kilbrin net. With time running out Newmarket pushed further ahead through a Cathal Browne brace, to seal the physical encounter, 1-30 to 1-22.
Newmarket can now look forward to renewing old acquaintances with Dromtarriffe, a side they drew with in the opening round of the E. Tarrant and Son’s sponsored competition, to see who will be crowned the 2023 Duhallow junior A hurling champions.
The Newmarket team and scorers…
Donal Hannon (0-13, 10f, 1×45), Darren O’Keeffe (1-03), Hugh O’Connor (0-04), Cathal Browne (0-04), Paddy Browne (0-03), Conor O’Keeffe (0-01), Barry O’Connor (0-01), Kevin O’Sullivan (0-01).
|Paudie Allen||Alan Ryan||Paddy Browne|
|Aidan Browne||Josh O'Keeffe||Mikey Browne|
|Conor O'Keeffe||John Ryan|
|Hugh O'Connor||Cathal Browne||Barry O'Connor|
|Donal Hannon||Rory Lynn||Darren O'Keeffe|
|Subs: Ryan O'Keeffe for John Ryan (44), Kevin O'Sullivan for Rory Lynn (52), Rory Lynn for Josh O'Keeffe (Inj 14 ET)|