WICKLOW MINOR HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP COUNTY FINAL
Michael Dwyers 0-17
Carnew Emmets 2-07
The name in every notebook leaving Aughrim yesterday was most definitely Eoin Byrne as the Michael Dwyers ace put in the display of all displays as he helped his Michael Dwyers side to a historic first ever Minor A Hurling Championship Title.
After heavy rain on Saturday, this clash was looking like it may fall foul of the weather and be moved to an alternative venue but the weather took a turn for the better on Sunday morning and it wasn’t just the autumn sun lighting up Aughrim as Carnew Emmets and Michael Dwyers lit up the hallowed Aughrim turf with a thoroughly entertaining Minor Final clash.
The aptly named Michael Dwyer Pipe Band led the two sides around Aughrim as the crowd roared on their young stars and no quarter was asked for or given from the moment the very capable referee Ciaran Manley threw the ball in to get the 2019 Minor Hurling County Final under way.
Carnew were hurling into the Herbst end and it was their mercurial talisman Owen Young who struck for first blood as he fired the Blue & Gold into an early lead with a well taken free and in the early exchanges the threat posed by the Carnew full forward was more than evident if the right delivery was to be made. Carnew had just the perfect candidate to provide such delivery in the form of the extremely talented Carnew Captain Eoin Kavanagh who is another man who will be in the notebooks of many in attendance and we will no doubt see him making a massive contribution to the adult sides of Carnew and Wicklow in the very near future. It was Kavanagh who latched onto a long clearance and with extreme artistry fired over a humdinger off his left side without ever breaking stride to put his side two points to the good.
Dwyers however were not be overwhelmed and worked the ball into Carnew territory before Eoin Byrne announced himself with aplomb with a beautiful point from play and Dwyers from the next play drew a foul and the free taking full forward assassin Brian Keogh was on hand to slot Dwyers second score and brush off any early cobwebs or nerves with the sides all square at two points each.
The tandem of Eoin Kavanagh and Owen Young was something Dwyers we’re acutely aware of and they deployed their defence to thwart the mainstay of the Carnew attack and they enjoyed early success with Darren Bermingham, Oisin Brogan and Daniel Van Alpen proving an equal match for early Carnew deliveries into the full forward line. The problem however was the danger from Eoin Kavanagh from any are of the pitch and he fired Carnew ahead with an unreal score off his left to put his side a point up. Owen Young showed his trickery near goal almost immediately after and fired his second point of the day, this time from open play and Carnew were back in possession of a two point cushion.
What hurling wizardry Eoin Kavanagh was producing off the left was matched in full by Dwyers number 12 Eoin Byrne who fired one of the scores of the game off his right to bring the deficit back to one and then the dual star Tom Moran showed he has the paw of Bengali Tiger as he rose and bravely fetched the sliotar above a host of players and swinging timber and he was brought down by a Carnew opponent as he headed for the Carnew goal and on hand was Brian Keogh who was unerring once again from the placed ball to level the game at 4 points each. At this stage Michael Dwyers were starting to edge the 50/50s but Carnew were not to be outhurled and once again it was Eoin Kavanagh who was the driving force behind a devastating Carnew move as he showed that Tom Moran was not the only man with a glue like hand as he fetched a long clearance and with one quick movement he had delivered a defence splitting ball into the same embrace of Owen Young who dispatched the sliotar past Meitheal Cleary in the Dwyers goal and the Carnew players and fans rejoiced as the onion sack rippled at the Herbst end.
While far from against the run of play it had looked like Dwyers were starting to edge the battle but the goal was just what the doctor ordered for Carnew and the tails were up but in Tom Moran, Michael Dwyers had a man who was not to be having his feathers ruffled and he fired over from a very tight angle to stop any Carnew momentum before it began and see his team back within two but a second dramatic twist was only moments away.
The ball had been pushed out to the terrace sideline about 30 yard from the Herbst Goal manned by Meitheal Cleary and as Thomas Hayden retrieved the sliotar near the sideline it seemed like there was no immediate threat looming for Michael Dwyers but as Hayden fired a stinging ball into the Dwyers square the sliotar just overshot the nearest players and with a violent hop off the surface of the square the ball deceived all spectators and ultimately the unfortunate Cleary in the goals who could never have allowed for the trajectory the sliotar took after making contact with the Aughrim sod and Carnew had there second major and a 5 point lead. Two body blows like this would unsettle the best of sides but Dwyers showed their mettle and Captain Brandon Ryan, Jack Reid and Ciaran Harmon really came to the fore as they began to put their stamp on the game and a good clearance was soon turned into paydirt as Brian Keogh won and slotted a free to reduce the deficit to four points with 22 minutes on the clock in the first half.
The final ten minutes saw Dwyers begin to really start getting a foothold in the game but the strong Carnew defensive spine of Thomas Collins and James McGing really we’re not in a humour to cough up any easy scores and that was exactly the case as Dwyers pushed hard. As Dwyers launched a probing ball into the heart of the Carnew defence a scramble ensued on the 45 meter line and a Dwyers goal bound shot looked to have lobbed a retreating Carnew Goalkeeper Caoimhin Rawson but somehow the diminutive Carnew stopper managed to connect to the sliotar with a despairing flick of his hurl to tip it onto the crossbar and somehow prevented a certain goal but that was only have the story as a Dwyers attacker followed up on the rebound and looked to have sent a low effort millimetres inside of the Carnew post but not on Rawson’s watch as he dove full length and parried the goal bound effort to the sheer delight of the Carnew faithful and a combination of the Carnew rearguard of Maurice Shiel, Max Keogh, Conor Byrne and Conor Wafer somehow managed to clear their lines and earn a relieving free out.
Rawson was not going to be far from the thick of the action as his unorthodox style provided some heart racing moments for the Carnew supporters as he raced out with a ball and was dispossessed and the resulting scramble lead to a Dwyers free in front of the sticks which Brian Keogh was never going to miss on his deadly accurate form and there was now only 3 in it despite the two Carnew majors. Eoin Kavanagh was working tirelessly around the middle third and was supported by the engine room of Ryan Guilfoyle and County Minor Football star Cillian McDonald and a delivery from the middle saw Darren Bermingham defending like a Lion but as the ball was being worked out the pressure applied by the Redmonds in the form of Dan and Cormac and Owen Young paid dividends as a turnover led to Owen Young being fouled and he dusted himself down to slot a close range free and move Carnew back to a 2-05 to 0-07 lead with 3 minutes to play in the first half.
Cometh the hour Cometh the Man and Eoin Byrne was just that man as he stepped up for Dwyers when the need was most. The Dwyers number 12 showed sheer brilliance as he fired over a point from play that would grace any point of the year shortlist to bring the deficit back to three but he wasn’t done yet and from the resulting Carnew puck out which were interestingly not being taken by Caoimhin Rawson, Byrne won possession and fired over his fourth point of the half, all of which came from play and the gap was just two as Ciaran Manley called time on an extremely entertaining first half with Carnew holding a 2-05 to 0-09 lead.
A lot of the scores were coming from the same sources with Carnews Owen Young bagging 1-3 with Eoin Kavanagh adding 0-2 from play and Thomas Hayden with the other Carnew goal while Michael Dwyers had 0-4 each for both Eoin Byrne and Brian Keogh and Tom Moran with 0-1 completed their scoring. The game was in the melting pot and you felt that it was going to be the team who could find that extra source of scoring and inspiration who would win the day with the Eoin Kavanagh/Owen Young and Eoin Byrne/Brian Keogh tandems cancelling each other out.
The answer to who would ultimately find that source came almost instantly at the start of the second half as Michael Dwyers midfield maestro Jake O Kelly fired over an inspirational point to inspire his Dwyers teammates and cut the Carnew lead to just one point. Eoin Kavanagh was a man who was all you would want and more from your Captain and he covered more grass than the last lawnmower to cut grass in Aughrim ever did and he fed his inside line with John Young also starting to come more into it and a Dwyers foul was punished by the accurate Owen Young to restore the Carnew lead to two but it just felt that Dwyers were really coming more and more into the game on the flanks and Arun Daly Danne was starting to really get through a mountain of work with Jack Reid in the pocket excelling. Eoin Byrne was not about to rest on his magnificent opening half performance and he brought his tally to 0-5 with another tasty score and Brian Keogh then found space to fire the levelling score from play and Dwyers were starting to really suck diesel.
The need for an alternative source of scoring rang true even more as both sides battled hard for every inch and it was Dwyers Rory Martin who stepped up to point a lovely score from play and give Dwyers their first lead in the game with the scoreboard now at 0-13 to 2-06 in favour of the men from the west and it was a lead that they were never going to release their grip on.
The score of the day was next to follow as the Dwyers talisman Eoin Byrne showed extreme work rate to harrass and ultimately disposess a Carnew defender as he attempted to clear his lines and he fired over a beaut of a point that really stirred up his teammates and a vocal Dwyers support. A killer blow looked imminent for Dwyers as Tom Moran once again won a ball he had no right to win and as he bore ominously down upon the Carnew goal a chasing defender took one for his team and felled the Dwyers centre forward just before he reached the edge of the square and once again Brian Keogh was on hand to fire over the resultant free and Dwyers were now 0-15 to 2-06 ahead and Carnew needed something to stop the rot.
Try as they might Carnew could not get a break from the now fired up Dwyers side despite an immense shift being put in from every Carnew man with a Carnew defender attempting to block a Dwyers effort with his hands after losing his hurl and it showed the real heart and grit in these great young Hurlers and they died with their boots on for the Carnew cause. Brian Keogh fires over another Dwyers free to push the score out to 0–16 to 2-06 in his sides favour with the clock winding down and Tom Moran followed that up with a display of stick work that TJ Reid himself would envy as he carried on the hurl without catching and fired over to put Dwyers into a 0-17 to 2-06 lead and bar a Carnew miracle the cup was heading west.
Carnew however fought to the bitter end and an Owen Young free closed the gap back to four points but time was not on their side as Ciaran Manley blew his whistle to signal an end to a fantastic game of hurling and sparked wild celebrations from the Dwyers players and mentors with a few lucky supporters managing to get out to their team on the pitch to join the celebrations with the pitch Steward holding back a large amount of the Dwyers faithful presumably to protect the pitch for the Senior Final to follow.
Michael Dwyers Captain Brandon Ryan who was as steady as a rock from his wing back berth was only too willing to accept the cup from Pat Dunne to the delighted roar of the Michael Dwyers fans and players and a second massive roar was heard as Dwyers Eoin Byrne was announced as a thoroughly deserved Man of The Match.
The talent coming through for both sides will make for great hope in both Kiltegan and Carnew and if these players can be nurtured along into the adult sides in the coming years we could well see the senior showcase being contested by Kiltegan and Carnew Emmets in the coming years. A word of praise must go to Ciaran Manley and his team who did their part in ensuring a great game of hurling was let flow and Ciaran Manley is very much a referee well equipped to officiate at the top level of hurling if this display is anything to go by. Another big positive was the behaviour of both sets of mentors who operated and interacted with each other and officials with the greatest of respect and it made for very positive viewing. The pitch in Aughrim appeared to have held up to the heavy rain very well and the decision to move the football semi final was a very good one allowing for optimum conditions for good hurling which we got in abundance. All in all a great game and a very entertaining encounter for all patrons in Aughrim and hopefully the extra work can be put into hurling as if that was a taste of what can be offered up then we want more helpings of that please.
The show must go on though and Monday brought with it the inevitable jersey wash😂