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1997 U-14 Hurling Title

CASTLETOWN-GEOGHEGAN UNDER 14’S WIN FIRST TITLE IN 28 YEARS

Castletown Geoghegan bridged a gap of 28 years by annexing the Under 14 Premier Hurling Championship title at the expense of a gallant Raharney at Cusack Park on Sept 6 th last. At the end of an exciting and closely fought encounter, the black and ambers had one point to spare, 3-8 to 4-4.

Raharney, who were favored by a lively breeze in the opening half, held a three point advantage at the interval but Castletown-Geoghegan quickly overturned that lead courtesy of two early second half goals. Three point in front, the black and ambers had doubled that lead with 10 minutes of normal time remaining and Raharney's challenge appeared to have wilted. However, the Deelsiders - who until then hadn't registered a score in the second moiety - rattled in a goal to leave just three points between the teams, thus setting up a grandstand finish.

With two minutes remaining, Raharney scored an equalising goal and a replay seemed likely. In the most dramatic circumstances imaginable, though, Castletown Geoghegan's heroic captain Ronan Whelan pointed a free from an acute angle to record the crucial match winning score. The victory sparked scenes of unbridled joy and celebration amongst the Castletown-Geoghegan faithful who had waited since 1969 for this historic success. Under the stewardship of Keith Gorry, Gerry Whelan, Finbar Clarke, Padraig Bohan and Sean Keoghan, the fledging black and ambers accounted for Ringtown and Castlepollard (twice) before reaping the ultimate reward against a highly-rated Raharney in the decider.

In a well balanced side, Castletown-Geoghegan had a reliable netminder in Michael Maloney. PJ Ward gave a sterling display at full back while corner backs, Vincent Ahearne and James Cuskelly put in some useful work. The winners' half back line of Leon Carberry, Justin Kenny and Brian Garvin marked tightly while midfielders Shane Fennell and Alan Hickey excelled. Fennell, who sustained a first half injury, was magnificent when switched to full forward, notching 2-2 in the process. The Castletown-Geoghegan attacking sextet comprising Ronan Whelan, Kevin Smith, Andrew Fox, Joseph Clarke, Ger Linnane and James Stones all made valuable contributions to the victory as did substitute, James 'Bud' Brennan.

The black and ambers looked dangerous early on and duly opened match scoring through Ronan Whelan. Kevin Smith then added a point before Raharney swooped for the game's first goal. Raharney's lead was short lived, thus - as Andrew Fox was quick to land an equalising point. Raharney then enjoyed a period of dominance which yielded four points without reply. However, Castletown Geoghegan brought themselves back into contention when Joseph Clarke rifled home a much needed goal following goalmouth scramble. Almost immediately, Ronan Whelan restored parity when he slotted over a free.

Just on the call of half time, Raharney regained a three point advantage when Alan Doyle had the sliothar nestling in the Castletown-Geoghegan net. That left the interval scoreline reading Raharney 3-4, Castletown-Geoghegan 4. The black and ambers started the second half with a bang when Shane Fennell set off on a solo run before dispatching an unstoppable shot to the Raharney net. Two minutes later, the same player scored another goal following a Joseph Clarke pass to leave his team three points clear.

By now beginning to exert dominance, Castletown Geoghegan notched three points on the spin per Shane Fennell (two) and Alan Hickey to go six clear. However Raharney refused to accept defeat and two late goals from David Flanagan hauled them back onto level terms. There was still time for Castletown-Geoghegan to snatch victors and that they did courtesy of Ronan Whelan in the dying moments. After the final, Castletown Geoghegan captain Ronan Whelan was the fitting recipient of the John 'Jobber' McGrath Memorial Cup from the Chairman of the Westmeath Minor Board, Michael McHugh.

The victorious Castletown Geoghegan team was:
Michael Maloney; James Cuskelly, PJ Ward, Vincent Ahearne-, Brian Garvin, Justin Kenny, Leon Carberry: Shane Fennell (2-2), Alan Hickey (0-1); Ronan Whelan (Capt)(0-3), Kevin Smith (0-1), Andrew Fox (0-1); Joseph Clarke (1-0), Ger Linnane, James Stones. Sub used: James Brennan.
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