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2009 U-16 Hurling Title

BY PAUL O'DONOVAN (Topic newspaper Thursday 15th October 2009)

Castletown Geoghegan: 3-28            Raharney: 0-5

A superb display of hurling by a top class, well drilled and extremely organised Castletown Geoghegan side, clinched the Under 16 Premier Hurling Championship, despite the best efforts of a brave Raharney team in Clonkill last Saturday afternoon.

Raharney are no different from any other Under 16 team in the county. Indeed they are probably a good deal better than most teams, but they were unfortunate to come up against an exceptionally good side from Castle-town, who can, if they stay together and continue to train and work hard, achieve great things in the future.

Raharney arrived in Clonkill determined to cause an upset and were focused on battling and hurling to the very end in order to surprise the decent sized attendance at this Under 16 final. The Raharney players and management tried everything, however, they had no answers to a stronger, slicker clinical Castletown side who possess some wonderfully gifted hurlers and who are a joy to watch. This Castletown side has an ability to stroke the sliothar around with great ease and control, and a knack of finding the posts from all angles. This ability just doesn't arrive overnight. It takes years of coaching and hard work and the knowledge to combine this talent into a cohesive unit, which Castletown displayed to a large degree last Saturday afternoon.

This Black and Amber side are very strong down the middle with Dean McDermott, David and Paul Fennell, and an attack led by Aonghus Clarke, and ably supported by a prolific full forward line of Niall O'Brien, Neal Kirby and Michael Heeney, to mention just a few. Raharney tried gallantly but while the scoreline shows a heavy defeat they certainly were not disgraced. Within eight seconds of the start Neal Kirby got the scoring underway and a minute later Ciaran Glennon had doubled Castletown's advantage.
Raharney responded and Jason Gorman hand-passed to Gary Greville, who reduced the margin with a point, although a goal was a possibility Aonghus Clarke got the first of his ten points when he calmly lobbed over a '65 in the seventh minute and the Black and Ambers forged ahead by scoring four more
points in quick succession from the sticks of Paul Fennell, Niall O’Brien and Neal Kirby, with these quartet of scores completed by Clarke yet again.

Raharney needed a few scores to stay in contention but it was Castletown who zoomed ahead with their first goal on 14 minutes. Neal Kirby found Niall O'Brien and while Raharney goalkeeper Stephen Lynam did very well with some earlier shots, he was unable to gather this one, giving Paul Fennell the opportunity to
finish to an empty net, which he duly did. In contrast, Raharney responded in a positive fashion with Jason Gorman sending over a quick reply from the right corner, but as if hurt by the concession of a score, Castle-town responded with three points, with Neal Kirby notching two points and Niall O'Brien another, following a good sideline ball by Paul Fennell. Raharney looked as though they would finish the half strongly when Gary Greville converted a 25-metre free and Robbie Greville sent over a point, after good
approach play by Shane Farrelly and Matthew Shannon.

However, these scores were quickly cancelled out as Castletown grabbed their second goal and finished the half with a further four points. Niall O'Brien scored the goal when he collected a good delivery by Paul Fennell and cut in from the left wing, with Stephen Lynam finding O’Brien’s shot too hard to handle.

Four Castletown points followed with Ciaran Glennon finding the range from the right wing, Paul Fennell from the centre, and Aonghus Clarke successful with one effort from play and another from a 25-metre free.

Raharney had their chances but Sean Scally could only kick the sliothar wide when bearing down on goals and Gary Greville was off target from a free that he would have expected to score from. As a result, Raharney trailed at the break by 2-14 to 0-4.

The second half turned into a procession of Castle-town scores as they completely dominated all areas of the field demonstrating their hunger and passion to win games and put the result beyond doubt when the opportunity arises. Aonghus Clarke got the second half scoring underway after just 22 seconds, and Clarke added the next two scores from a 35-metre free and from play from over 60 meters. Raharney keeper Stephen Lynam was kept busy in this half and coped very well while under pressure, but Neal Kirby and David Lynch added points and Niall O'Brien chipped in with two scores of his own, to leave Castletown 23 points ahead. Aonghus Clarke is just one of the many outstanding talented players on this
Castletown side, but his neat touch, skill and ability to score with ease from distance is a massive asset to this team.

Clarke added a further three points between the 50th and 54th minutes, scoring from a ’65, from a 45 meter free and from play to bring his tally to ten points for the afternoon, before being rested.

As Castletown dominated all sectors of the field, David Lynch and the hugely impressive David Fennell both scored points from distance. David Fennell was outstanding all through the hour and he set up the third goal for Castletown when Niall O'Brien gathered his pass to finish to the Raharney net. Raharney tried valiantly throughout and their best player on the day, Darragh Brady, who had a tremendous game at full back, notched their only score of the second half, a good point from distance in the final few minutes.
In injury time, David Fennell converted a 68-metre free and substitute David Pidgeon proved there is also plenty of strength on the bench by notching the final score of the match, to leave Castletown very comfortable winners by a massive 32 points.

This extremely talented Castletown side have now set the bar as regards standards of underage hurling in the county. It is now up to the other clubs to follow suit, if possible, but for the moment Castletown Geoghegan can enjoy another county title, which on the basis of this performance they thoroughly deserve. 

Castletown Geoghegan: Aonghus Clarke (0-10, 0-3 from frees, 0-2 from ‘65’s), Niall O’Brien (2-4), Neal Kirby (0-5), Paul Fennell (1-2), Ciaran Glennon (0-2), David Lynch (0-2), David Fennell (0-2, 0-1 from free), David Pidgeon (0-1),

Raharney: Garry Greville (0-2, 0-1 from free), Jason Gorman (0-1), Robbie Greville (0-1), Darragh Brady (0-1).

CASTLETOWN-GEOGHEGAN: Shane Clavin, Michael Dever, Dean McDermott, Liam Varley, Niall Gunning, David Fennell, Alan Clarke, David Lynch, Paul Fennell, Ciaran Glennon, Aonghus Clarke, Eoin Quinn, Niall O'Brien, Neal Kirby, Michael Heeney. Subs: Cathal Tynan for Michael Heeney (41 minutes), Sean Mullarkey for Neal Kirby (49 minutes), David Pidgeon for Aonghus Clarke (53 minutes), Frankie Deegan for Paul Fennell (53 Minute), Leonard Gavin for Liam Varley (53 minute) and Ed Berminghan.

RAHARNEY: Stephen Lynam, Pierce Colgan, Darragh Brady, Matthew Shannon, Conor Raleigh, Joey Boyle, Jay O'Reilly, Jason Gorman, Robbie Greville, Shane Farrelly, Gary Greville, Shane Gorman, Dylan Raleigh, Sean Scally, Frank McHugh. Subs: Darragh Rock for Dylan Raleigh (42 minutes), Darragh Duggan for Pierce Colgan (injured, 49 minutes), Shane Conroy for Matthew Shannon (51 minutes), Lorcan McHugh for Frank McHugh (53 minutes).

REFEREE: James McGrath (Turin).

(Westmeath Examiner 10th October 2009)

Castletown Geoghegan: 3-28            Raharney: 0-5

A very skilful Castletown Geoghegan side had no difficulty in disposing of a game but ultimately limited Raharney outfit in the final of the Westmeath Under-16 hurling championship at a well-appointed Clonkill last Saturday afternoon. The black and ambers came into this game with a very big reputation and they
justified their hot favourites tag with a power-packed display from first whistle to last. The Deelsiders were under the cosh for the entire hour, but it is to their great credit that they hurled with the spirit associated with the club right to the bitter end. On the day, it was no disgrace to lose to a team who would not be out of place against the best club sides in many of the traditional counties.

Raharney had the aid of a slight wind in the opening half, but Castletown-Geoghegan looked the sharper side right from the off. Neal Kirby opened the scoring form 25 metres with only ten seconds on the clock and the lead was doubled by the third minute, courtesy of a fine angled shot from Ciaran Glennon. Within a minute, the losers opened their account when Gary Greville pointed, a goal briefly looking a possibility. However, a barrage of quick-fire Castletown-Geoghegan points opened a six-points margin by the 12th minute from the sticks of Aonghus Clarke (two, including a `65'), Paul Fennell, Niall O'Brien and Neal Kirby. A goal looked inevitable and it duly arrived in the 14th minute, Raharney goalkeeper Stephen Lynam (who had many fine moments throughout) fumbling Niall O'Brien's shot, allowing Paul Fennell to poke the sliotar to the net. At the midpoint of the half, Jason Gorman scored a terrific point for the blue and whites,
but a dominant Castletown side soon clicked into gear again. A few careless wides preceded three points in quick succession from Niall O'Brien and Neal Kirby (two). A mini-rally from Raharney yielded a point apiece from the Greville twins, Gary (from a free) and Robbie (open play). However, Castletown Geoghegan
showed no mercy and they tagged on another 1-4 without reply in the closing stages of the first moiety. Niall O'Brien's shot spun into the net off Stephen Lynam's hurley and points ensued from Ciaran Glennon, Aonghus Clarke (two, the second a from a 30-metre free) and Paul Fennell. For their part, Raharney spurned a great chance of a goal when Sean Scally kicked the ball wide from a great position in the 25th minute. At the break, the destiny of the cup was already decided with Castletown-Geoghegan ahead by 2-14 to 0-4.

There was to be no respite for the losers on the change of ends. Aonghus Clarke followed up his point after a mere 25 seconds with another brace, a great score from play from 60 meters and a 35-metre free. The one-way traffic continued with points from Neal Kirby, David Lynch and a brace from Niall O’Brien. The very promising Aonghus Clarke then took centre stage again with three further points in as many minutes - a converted '65', another from play and a third from a 45-metre free. With five minutes of normal time remaining, David Lynch slotted over a wonderful point, quickly followed by a routine score from David Fennell. Niall O'Brien proceeded to field the latter's delivery and plant the ball in the Raharney net. With time running out, the losers’ full back Darragh Brady got the point his heroic display deserved, but Castletown Geoghegan wrapped up the title with injury time scores from a long range free from David Fennell and a shot from 40 meters from substitute David Pidgeon. A few minutes later, John Weir, chairman of the Westmeath GAA Minor Board, presented the cup to the winning Castletown Geoghegan captain, Dean McDermott.