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2010 Minor Hurling Title

Chaotic End as Clonkill and Castletown Finish All Square

2010 Westmeath Minor Hurling final: Clonkill 1-9, Castletown-Geoghegan 1-9


Niall Dowdall puts Clonkill on the offensive during the Minor Hurling Championship final in Lakepoint Park.

A poor 2010 Minor final ended in chaotic scenes as referee Declan Hogan was escorted from the field, as irate Clonkill players and supporters jostled him after a late, late Castletown goal had levelled matters and brought this final to a replay.

It looked as if the referee had red carded Clonkill's Niall Dowdall after the final whistle after consulting with his umpires and linesman and this further infuriated an already annoyed Clonkill who felt time was up when Neal Kirby scored the equalising goal, believing also that he was in the square.

Whether that be the case or not there is no place in any sport for the kind of behaviour that marred the end of what was a very tame game indeed and the fact that Hogan was jostled and harangued all the way to the dressing room will surely have repercussions for Clonkill. They were the architects of their own downfall however as they let a nine point lead slip and should have been home and hosed long before the final whistle.

As it was Castletown battled away and kept tipping into that lead as the Green and Golds faded strikingly in the last quarter.

The moving of Aonghus Clarke to midfield was the catalyst and his never say die spirit encouraged those around him to rise themselves from their slumber and somehow level matters as the game ticked into the 63 minute but unfortunately this game will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, with hurling not one of them.

The opening of the game was tense and instantly forgettable as neither side could live up to the pre match hype. It took almost 10 minutes for the first score from a ‘65 by hugely impressive Clonkill centre back, Cathal Scally. Scally doubled that lead on 11 minutes but Niall O’Brien pulled one back for Castletown from a another ‘65. The first score from play arrived via Niall Dowdall who punished some poor defence by Castletown for an inspirational score.

Castletown were struggling and giving away far too many frees and they were punished by Scally again with a monster conversion from the half way line.

The Black and Ambers were more than fortunate to get one back when O’Brien converted a free after Thomas Egan was pulled for lying on the ball. Another converted Scally free pushed Clonkill back three ahead again and then Niall Dowdall pounced on some truly awful Castletown efforts to score an opportunist point to put four between the sides. Castletown needed a boost and they nearly got the ultimate one when a goalmouth scramble ended with Aonghus Clarke pulling on the loose ball only to see it fly over rather than under the bar.

Clonkill had a penalty shout shortly afterward when Anthony Price looked to be hauled down in the square but play was waved on despite the Clonkill protests. Scally ended the scoring for the half when another Castletown indiscretion was punished from the dead ball and a pretty awful half of hurling ended with Clonkill leading 0-7 to 0-3.

Eoin Quinn replaced Luke Cassidy at the break but the opening exchanges of the second half were again all Clonkill. Dylan O’Regan picked off a super score from a very tight angle and Price put six between the sides when he caught and struck from distance.

On 44 minutes Clonkill fans were in full voice when a long delivery from Scally landed in the danger area and a scramble ensued. As the dust settled Niall Folan looked to have got a hurl to the ball and the green flag was raised for a disputed goal.

At this stage the cup looked destined for Loughegar but amazingly that was Clonkill’s last score of the game as they retreated into a shell

Clarke moved to midfield for Castletown and it had immediate results as he pointed after some sustained pressure. John Heslin added another moments later after some great approach work and a Niall O’Brien free made it three in a row but Castletown then missed three very scorable chances in succession two of them with O’Brien going for goal.

The end seemed nigh for the Black and Ambers but a Darren Ruane point lifted them considerably and when a Clarke free narrowed the gap to four there was certainly momentum.

Sub Michael Dever put just a puck of the ball between the sides after a wonderful field-long move but the desired goal did not look imminent. Up stepped O’Brien who made two great efforts to get the green flag but both were turned back until he saw Kirby on the edge of the square and flicked the ball across and the wing forward tapped the ball to an empty net for the equaliser, to break the hearts of the Clonkill faithful as moments later the final whistle blew.

Scorers: 
Clonkill: Cathal Scally 0-5, 1 free 2 ‘65s, Niall Folan 1-0, Niall Dowdall 0-2, Anthony Price and Dylan O’Regan 0-1 each.
Castletown-Geoghegan: Aonghus Clarke (1 free) and Niall O’Brien (3 frees) 0-3 each, Neal Kirby 1-0, John Heslin, Darren Ruane and Michael Dever 0-1 each.

Clonkill: Daniel Sheridan, Thomas McLoughlin, Kelvin Reilly, Thomas Egan, Finbar Thompson, Cathal Scally, Ciaran Crentsil, Conor Thompson, Niall Folan, Paul Poynton, Niall Dowdall, John Heffernan, Enda Morrison, Anthony Price, Dylan O’Regan Subs: Ciaran Morrison for Heffernan 50 mins, Jack McGrath for Enda Morrison and Luke Loughlin for O’Regan 54 mins.

Castletown-Geoghegan: Niall Kelly, Ciaran McDonald, Diarmuid Garvin, Liam Varley, Jordy Cassidy, Paul Fennell, Dean McDermott, John Heslin, Darren Ruane, Luke Kelly, Luke Cassidy, Neal Kirby, Aonghus Clarke, Niall O’Brien, Ciaran Glennon. Subs: Eoin Quinn for Luke Cassidy H/T, Michael Dever for Glennon 49 mins.

Referee: Declan Hogan, St. Brigid's.


Minor Hurling Championship Division 1 final replay

Castletown always on top in disappointing minor replay

Castletown-Geoghegan 2-14            Clonkill 2-5

As often happens in replays, a one-sided game was on offer for the large crowd at St.Loman’s Lakepoint Park last Sunday morning, with a much sharper and more focused Castletown-Geoghegan side full value for their nine-point winning margin, when outplaying a generally lethargic Clonkill outfit to garner the Westmeath minor hurling crown for 2010.

The black and amber-clad lads were undoubtedly the better team all through. Even the tonic of a goal against the run of play late in the first moiety failed to lift Pat O’Toole’s charges. At one stage in the second half the lead was as much as 12 points for Pat O’Brien’s troops and, while complacency on the winners’ part allowed the green and golds to get the deficit down to seven points, there was really never any doubt as to where the trophy would spend the next 12 months. Thankfully, despite an unseemly side to the drawn final, there was never a hint of rancour in this contest, with referee Michael Mannion never having even a semi-rancorous situation to handle.

After a minute’s silence was impeccably observed in memory of the recently deceased John Fitzsimons from Clonkill, the eagerly-awaited game got under way, in cold but pleasant conditions. While fog persisted throughout, visibility was fine for all concerned. Niall O’Brien put Castletown-Geoghegan ahead in the third minute from a 25-metre free and, after a listless five-minute period from both sides, Cathal Scally equalised from another placed ball, this time some 60 metres from the winners’ goal. A great lay-off from Niall O’ Brien teed up Darren Ruane for a Castletown point, but Anthony Price levelled the scoring when
he rounded off a patient Clonkill move with a terrific point from a tight angle. Castletown-Geoghegan went into a lead they never looked remotely like relinquishing in the 11th minute, albeit with a very fortuitous goal from Niall O’Brien, whose speculative shot from 35 metres near the stand sideline went all the way to the net. The most skilful hurler on show, Aonghus Clarke then took centre stage when he rifled over three points in as many minutes - the first two from frees of a little over 65 metres and the third a classy score from play from 60 metres, after picking up the sliotar following a throw-in. John Heslin’s goal attempt was
blocked by Daniel Sheridan in the Clonkill goal, before Anthony Price mishit a scoreable free at the other end. With six minutes of normal time remaining in the first half, a quickly-taken free by Aonghus Clarke instigated a move which ended with a neat point from John Heslin. Enda Morrison replied with an opportunist point for the losers. Both sides spurned a scoreable opportunity, but Niall O’Brien was deadly accurate when he converted a 40-metre free. However, Clonkill were thrown an unexpected lifeline in the 30th minute, Niall Kelly only batting out Cathal Scally’s long-range free and Thomas Egan scooping the ball to the net. At the break, Castletown-Geoghegan led by 1-7 to 1-3.

The sizeable crowd got some unexpected entertainment to cheer them up in the cold conditions as they jovially jeered the belatedly-returning umpires all the way to their positions prior to the resumption of play. When the match got under way the Castletown fans got even more to cheer about, Aonghus Clarke scoring a sublime individual goal for the black and ambers in the first minute. Further points followed quickly from Niall O’Brien (a great score from a tight angle), Luke Kelly (rounding off a patient move) and O’Brien again (from a 30-metre free). Another brace - a delightful effort from play by Paul Fennell and Aonghus Clarke from a 70-metre free - ensued, and a rout looked a distinct possibility with Castletown-Geoghegan ahead by 2-12 to 1-3, with a full 18 minutes remaining.

However, the winners took the foot off the gas somewhat and allowed Clonkill some leeway. After two bad misses, the green and golds rallied briefly with three scores, ironically all from substitutes. Ciaran Morrison rattled over a fine solo point, with Niall Murray kicking over another before Ciaran Morrison set up Luke Loughlin for a great low finish past Niall Kelly. Seven minutes of normal time still remained, but Aonghus Clarke settled the black and ambers’ nerves with a converted ‘65’ and the same player pointed a 45-metre free as the minutes ticked away.

Clonkill’s last-gasp attempts to put a better complexion on the scoreboard came to nothing and it was Castletown-Geoghegan’s Niall Kelly who received the minor cup from John Weir, Chairman of the Westmeath GAA Minor Board, shortly after the final whistle.

Castletown-Geoghegan: Niall Kelly (capt); Ciaran McDonnell, Dean McDermott, Liam Varley; Kieran Glennon, Diarmuid Garvin, David Fennell; Aonghus Clarke (1-6, 0-1 from a ‘65’, 0-4 from frees), Darren Ruane (0-1); Paul Fennell (0-1), John Heslin (0-1), Luke Kelly (0-1); Jordy Cassidy, Neal Kirby, Niall O’Brien (1-4, 0-3 from frees). Subs: Michael Dever (for Kelly, 57 mins), Luke Cassidy (for Cassidy, 58 mins).

Clonkill: Daniel Sheridan; Thomas McLoughlin, Kelvin Reilly, Thomas Egan (1-0); Finbarr Thompson, Cathal Scally (0-1, from a free), Ciaran Crentsil; John Egan, Niall Folan; John Heffernan, Paul Poynton, Conor Thompson; Enda Morrison (0-1), Anthony Price (capt) (0-1, from a free), Dylan O’Regan. Subs: Niall Murray (0-1) (for J. Egan, 34 mins), Luke Loughlin (1-0) (for Heffernan, 40 mins), Ciaran Morrison (0-1) (for T. Egan, 42 mins), Shane Carroll (for O’Regan, 57 mins).

Referee: Michael Mannion (Garrycastle).



Castletown-Geoghegan Retain Minor Title With Powerful Display
BY PAUL O'DONOVAN (Topic newspaper)

Castletown-Geoghegan 2-14            Clonkill 2-5

Castletown-Geoghegan turned in a powerful first half display to overcome the challenge of Clonkill and retain their minor championship, in what was a surprisingly one-sided minor final replay, which was played in Lakepoint Park, home of St. Loman's GAA Club, last Sunday morning.


A five-minute period midway through the first half saw Castletown score 1-3 without reply and they went in at the break, deservedly leading by 1-7 to 1-3. Then, a superb individual goal at the start of the second half by Man of the Match, Aonghus Clarke, propelled the 'Black and Ambers' into a commanding lead and by the 42nd minute, Castletown led by 2-12 to 1-3.

To their credit, while they were outplayed over the hour, Clonkill battled to the end and narrowed the deficit to nine points, but at the finish, there was no disputing who the champions were, as Castletown collected the minor title for the second year in a row. Interest in this replay was certainly heightened after the sides had drawn 1-9 each in the initial game three weeks ago. That game ended in controversial circumstances, with Clonkill's Niall Dowdall receiving a red card after the final whistle for an incident towards the end of the
match.

There's no doubt that Dowdall, absent through suspension, was a massive loss to the Clonkill side, but judging by Sunday's performance, one man would not have made a huge difference to the overall outcome.
Clonkill must be wondering just where it all went wrong, as they led by nine points with 19 minutes remaining in the first encounter, and then on Sunday last, they failed to reproduce any of the passion, fire or determination required to win county finals of this standard. A large crowd gathered in Lakepoint Park for the early morning throw-in, and they were greeted by a heavy cloud of fog, which hovering at a height, which just allowed the game to proceed.

RELENTLESS PRESSURE FROM CASTLETOWN
From the very first ball, Castletown showed they were intent on victory as they were first to the ball, decisive in their decisions, and sharp in their movement and execution of scores. Castletown's tackling was tenacious and they pressurised Clonkill at every opportunity. The first example of this arrived as early as the third minute, when Clonkill’s full back Kelvin Reilly was forced to over carry the ball, and from the resultant free, Niall O'Brien converted to register the first score. Clonkill leveled when Cathal Scally was successful from a 60-metre free, five minutes later, but parity didn't last long as a neat pass by Niall O'Brien allowed Darren Ruane to regain the lead for the Castletown men.

A good point from the left wing by Anthony Price brought the sides level once more at 0-2 each after eleven minutes, and the spectators must have thought they were in for an exciting match. However, that was where they were wrong, as Castletown, stepped up a gear to forge into a significant lead. Castletown struck for their first goal after 12 minutes and it was somewhat fortuitous, as Niall O'Brien collected possession from a sideline ball on the left wing and sent the sliothar goalwards in the hope of securing a point, but the sliothar drifted beyond the defence, and the goalkeeper, and all the way into the Clonkill net.

CLARKE SHOWS HIS CLASS
It was at this stage, that the influential Aonghus Clarke, made a significant impression for Castletown. Clarke converted two frees in quick succession, from distance, before collecting loose possession 40 metres out and sending the sliothar sailing between the uprights from a quick snap shot. Clarke almost added another point and then John Heslin saw his goal bound shot parried by Clonkill keeper Daniel Sheridan, as Castletown took complete control.

Darren Ruane and Paul Fennell should have increased the Castletown lead but their efforts were narrowly off target. The reigning champions eventually added to their lead, when Niall O'Brien found John Heslin, and the towering centre half forward supplied a point from a central position. The Clonkill attacks were rare but they did manage a point after 24 minutes when Enda Morrison latched onto a long delivery by Cathal Scally to register their third point. A point from a free by Niall O'Brien from a central position appeared to bring the first half scoring to an end, but Clonkill stunned Castletown by swooping for a goal in first half injury time. 

Yet another long free delivered into the Castletown square, by Cathal Scally, resulted in a goal-mouth scramble, and Thomas Egan, playing at corner forward, managed to stab the ball to the net from close range. This left the half time score 1-7 to 1-3 in favor of the Castletown men.

CLARKE'S INDIVIDUAL GOAL
Clonkill needed to build on this goal, when the sides resumed for the second half, but it was Castletown who scored a vital second goal, just sixty seconds after the restart, and what a goal it was. Aonghus Clarke fielded from a puck out and stormed through the heart of the Clonkill defence on a powerful solo run, before rifling the sliothar to the net from 20 metres. Just to emphasise the gulf in class between the sides on the day, Castletown quickly added to their tally with Niall O'Brien pointing, and then two minutes later, O'Brien set up Luke Kelly for a point.

Five minutes later, Castletown stretched their lead when Niall O'Brien converted a free. An excellent pass out of defence by Liam Varley enabled Paul Fennell to send over a point from the left wing, and the gap dividing the sides was now at eleven points. A massive strike, from a free, from half way, by Aonghus Clarke sailed neatly between the uprights, as Castletown looked set for a very comfortable victory.

MINI CLONKILL REVIVAL
However, hurling is a game that you must concentrate on fully, for the full sixty minutes, and when Castletown became sluggish and took their foot off the pedal, Clonkill crept back into the game. Ironically, Clonkill missed their best chance of a goal from close range, before substitute Ciaran Morrison sent over a point, and fellow substitute, Niall Murray, kicked over a point.

Castletown paid little heed to these scores, but they were woken abruptly by Clonkill's next score, a goal after 53 minutes. Ciaran Morrison slipped a pass into Luke Loughlin and Loughlin fired low into the far corner of the net. In truth, Clonkill had left themselves far too much to do and their brief rally lasted all too soon. In the final minutes, Aonghus Clarke, who was in excellent form from placed balls, converted a '65, after Clonkill's Daniel Sheridan had batted a Paul Fennell shot around his post, while Clarke then completed the scoring when he lobbed over from a free, after John Heslin was fouled. In the end, it was a comfortable victory for the young men in 'Black and Amber' as they deservedly retained their minor title. On a day when Clonkill were below par, Castletown had outstanding performances from Liam Varley, Kieran Glennon, Niall O'Brien, David and Paul Fennell and Aonghus Clarke.

MATCH AT A GLANCE

MAN OF THE MATCH
Castletown-Geoghegan's Aonghus Clarke, not just for his scoring ability, which yielded a total of 1-6, but his overall contribution of skill and leadership, which was rounded off with a superb goal at a vital stage of the game.

SCORE OF THE MATCH
Clarke's goal in the first minute of the second half. Clarke collected the ball and soloed through the Clonkill defence, before firing to the back of the Clonkill net.

SAVE OF THE MATCH
While Clonkill goalkeeper Daniel Sheridan will have better days, he did manage to deny John Heslin a goal with a good save after 19 minutes.

TURNING POINT
Clarke's goal swung the game back in Castletown's favour just when Clonkill were hoping to get back into the contest.

TALKING POINT
Clonkill were nine points up with 19 minutes remaining in the first match, which ended in a draw, but the loss of Niall Dowdall, and a lack of bite from Clonkill, saw Castletown win this replay easily.

MINUTE'S SILENCE
Before the game, a minute's silence was observed, for the late John Fitzsimons from Clonkill.

Castletown-Geoghegan Panel: Niall Kelly (capt); Ciaran McDonnell, Dean McDermott, Liam Varley; Kieran Glennon, Diarmuid Garvin, David Fennell; Aonghus Clarke (1-6, 0-1 from a ‘65’, 0-4 from frees), Darren Ruane (0-1); Paul Fennell (0-1), John Heslin (0-1), Luke Kelly (0-1); Jordy Cassidy, Neal Kirby, Niall O’Brien (1-4, 0-3 from frees). Subs: Michael Dever (for Luke Kelly, 57 mins), Luke Cassidy (for Jordy Cassidy, 58 mins). David Lynch, Owen Quinn, Niall Gunning, Alan Geraghty & Lenord Gavin.

Management: Pat O’Brien, Ray Gavin, Kieran Kirby & Matt Kirby.

Clonkill: Daniel Sheridan; Thomas McLoughlin, Kelvin Reilly, Thomas Egan (1-0); Finbarr Thompson, Cathal Scally (0-1, from a free), Ciaran Crentsil; John Egan, Niall Folan; John Heffernan, Paul Poynton, Conor Thompson; Enda Morrison (0-1), Anthony Price (capt) (0-1, from a free), Dylan O’Regan. Subs: Niall Murray (0-1) (for J. Egan, 34 mins), Luke Loughlin (1-0) (for Heffernan, 40 mins), Ciaran Morrison (0-1) (for T. Egan, 42 mins), Shane Carroll (for O’Regan, 57 mins)

Referee: Michael Mannion (Garrycastle).
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