It was just the short trip to Staker Wallace for our U21 hurlers on Thursday evening to take on Croagh/Kilfinny/Rathkeale on a wintery evening that saw the strong winds blowing and heavy rain falling at various stages throughout the game. Ahane made a positive start to the game with points coming from Conor Heffernan and Peter Donohoe. Conor’s strike just curled in and over the bar, while Peter showed great skill in controlling the ball before he popped it over the bar. That’s were things started to turn however as Croagh/Kilfinny/Rathkeale scored 1-02 from frees in the following four minutes. The goal dropped into the top left corner from a free. Ronan Fox got the Ahane charges moving again though with a point from a free, his first of many for the evening. Croagh/Kilfinny/Rathkeale scored two more points, one from a free and their first from play in the 12th minute. The rain started to come down in sheets at this stage but that didn’t stop Ronan popping over another free right before the water break. Score was Ahane 0-04 Croagh/Kilfinny/Rathkeale 1-04. Croagh/Kilfinny/Rathkeale came back out and scored two more points again one form a placed ball and one from a free before Ronan slotted over another free to keep Ahane within four points. Ronan brought the gap back to three with a free before it was widened to four again a minute later by the ever-accurate Croagh/Kilfinny/Rathkeale free taker. Ahane got a goal opportunity in the final moments of the half but heartbreakingly his attempt was denied by the Croagh/Kilfinny/Rathkeale goalkeeper. Ahane’s final point came from Peter Donohoe who scored a super point while off balance and facing away from the goal. Croagh/Kilfinny/Rathkeale had the final say of the half as they scored a point. Half time score Ahane 0-07 Croagh/Kilfinny/Rathkeale 1-08.
Keeping up tradition Padraig Hartnett made his way from midfield to make a runoff Ronan’s shoulder, Ronan passed off the ball to Padraig who made no mistake in firing it over beautifully, the perfect start to the second half. This was short lived though as Croagh/Kilfinny/Rathkeale scored three frees on the bounce to push the gap to six. But the ever-accurate Ronan Fox continued to keep the Ahane side’s scores ticking over as he scored from another placed ball. As was the theme of the game every time Ahane scored Croagh/Kilfinny/Rathkeale would come down the other end and score three points of their own. The score at the water break was Ahane 0-09 Croagh/Kilfinny/Rathkeale 1-14. With eight points between them, Ahane had left themselves a mountain to climb in the final fifteen minutes, a mountain that would prove too high to climb in the end but not for lack of trying by our lads. Ronan popped over another point from a free, Mark Donnellan got on the score sheet too with a point of his own, before Croagh/Kilfinny/Rathkeale scored four points two from play and two from frees. We never stopped fighting though and in the 31st minute Peter Donohoe got a cracker of a goal meaning the gap was seven points. Croagh/Kilfinny/Rathkeale ended the game the stronger though as they scored 1-02 from play despite our best efforts, they were just better than us on the day.
Team: W. O’Leary; L. O’Sullivan, A. Rowsome, E. O’Leary, S. O’Grady, A. Shanahan, E. Power; P. Hartnett, P. O’Grady, R. Fox, M. Donnellan, K. Morrissey, C. Heffernan, M. Hickey, P. Donohoe.
Substitutions: J. Barry (for L. O’Sullivan 2nd ½), J. O’Keeffe (for A. Rowsome 2nd ½), L. O’Mara (for M. Hickey 2nd ½), C. Slattery Wright (for E. Power 2nd ½), D. Hayes (for S. O’Grady 2nd ½).