The Graigue Ballycallan U15 team recently lined out against James Stephens in a much anticipated County Final. Both teams were the teams that showed the best form throughout the year and when they met in the group stages earlier in the year the town team prevailed by the narrowest of margins after probably the best game of the season.
Very little has separated these teams over the last number of years with the locals beating them by 2 points in a Féile Semi Final last year.On the day it was the Graigue Ballycallan side that got off to a good start with a free won by Ryan Corcoran and converted by Aaron McEvoy to put a point between the teams but the Village responding quickly with a point from play.
At the water break it was 3 points to 2 in favour of the locals with two more frees converted by Aaron McEvoy and both sets of backs on top for the first quarter with Billy O’Neill and Sean Roberts hitting a lot of ball for the local team.
20 mins in it was level again with a point from the James Stephens corner forward. The Graigue Ballycallan midfield now on top but the scores weren’t coming easy.
At 28 mins the village went up a point but Graigue Ballycallan responded a minute later when Ryan Corcoran’s shot was saved and Jake O’Brien bravely got in to flick the ball past an onrushing James Stephens goal keeper.
James Stephens then pulled back a point from a free before a Ryan Corcoran point left the score 1-4 to 0-5 at half time.
From the start of the second half the Village put the Graigue Ballycallan backs under huge pressure which paid off as they quickly drew level again but minutes later Billy O’Neill struck a long range free to put the locals back in front and Aaron McEvoy a second free to put 2 between the teams.
Just before the whistle blew for the 2nd water break James Stephens got the second goal of the game when a shot taken by the half forward broke in the square and was finished to the net by a James Stephen’s man. The umpire called for a square ball but was overruled by the referee leaving James Stephens a point up at the water break. (It WAS a square ball)
Shortly after the water break a free by McEvoy brought the game all square again before three James Stephens points from frees put the town team back in front by 3 with 4 mins left.
Another point and a goal from play put the town team 7 points ahead with 3 mins to go.
A testament to the Graigue Ballycallan men they never gave up and responded with a goal from Ryan Corcoran and it was all the men in blue for the last 3 minutes putting massive pressure on the opposition defence, Billy O’Neill grazing the crossbar with a minute to go to leave a goal between the teams. Unfortunately for the men in blue they ran out of time and the final score remained Graigue Ballycallan 2-8 James Stephens 2-11.
These group of lads are a credit to their parents and the club to be competing with and beating the top teams year after year at the highest level of hurling in Kilkenny and we look forward to seeing more from them in the coming years. The future is bright!!
Well done lads!!
Team and scorers: Sean McGrath, Ben Young, Sean Roberts, Aidan Comerford, Dean O’Brien, Billy O’Neill 0-2 (1f), Pat Purcell, Jeff Neary, Ryan Cody, Martin Brennan, Paidí Egan, James Casey, Jake O’Brien 1-0,
Aaron McEvoy 0-5 (5f) Ryan Corcoran 1-1
Subs: Tony Butler, Aidan Cahill, Frank McCluskey, James Brennan, Cillian Hoyne, Shane Cody, Ciaran Murphy, Eoghan Cahill
Report by Alan O’Shea