U13s in Na Piarsaigh tournament

On Saturday, 6th of June, the Kilmacud Crokes U13s took part in the annual Na Piarsaigh tournament in Cork which brought together the 2008 U12 County champions from Cork, Kilkenny and Dublin amongst others. On what was guaranteed to be a highly competitive tournament, the Crokes lads left the heavy rain in Dublin at 7.30am and arrived in a dry and sunny Cork. On two beautifully appointed pitches the Crokes boys entered the fray against the reigning 2008 Cork U12 County Champions, Killeagh.

Crokes started against a strong wind and after 10 minutes were down 1.01 to 0.01 and were under heavy pressure as Killeagh struck a series of wides from promising positions. The dry and firm ground was causing the Crokes defence some problems as the adjusted to the fast pace of the hurling and the firm sod. Nevertheless Desmond Dagg and Peter Herlihy on the left side of defence were heroic in stemming the tide but in the 13 minute, Killeagh struck for a second goal. Crokes continued to be under severe pressure against the wind but started to get more ball into the forwards which resulted in a well worked goal from Michael Crowley. Two more points for Crokes gave lots of hope as we neared the half-time whistle, however another Killeagh goal before half time left the score 3.02 to 1.03 in Killeaghs favour.

Hopes were raised early in the 2nd half when a Michael Crowley free reduced the margin. A good save from Tadhg Murphy early in the 2nd half lifted spirits but shortly afterwards another Killeagh goal left the scores 4.02 to 1.04 on the 30 minute mark.  Despite a sustained challenge over the last ten minutes, Crokes were only able to tack on one more point. Some excellent goalkeeping from the Killeagh keeper with a fantastic save following a deflection in the 3rd last minute secured a deserved win for the Cork boys on a final score of 4.02 to 1.05. Desmond Dagg and Peter Herlihy were outstanding for Crokes and in a forward line somewhat starved of possession, captain Conor Gowing played very well. Other notable contributions came from Sean Keating who tried manfully in midfield and Adam O'Neill & Lorcan Tucker who worked very hard throughout.

Scorers: M Crowley 1.01 (1f), E Allen, S Keating, A O'Neill, S Veale (0.01 each)

Following a 5 minute break, Crokes faced Belfast team St Johns. On this occasion, Crokes opened with the wind at their backs and started brightly with two quick points from Conor Gowing and the impressive Cian O'Connor. A series of Crokes wides followed and after a tough ten minutes, Crokes led by 0.02 to 0.01.  The last 8 minutes of the half were very costly for Crokes as they conceded 3 goals in quick succession. A goal from Conor Gowing and a point from Cian O'Connor on the stroke of half time left the scores 3.01 to 1.04 in favour of the Northerners. Facing into the wind, the lead was extended following a pointed free, but a well taken point from Stephen Doyle following a great run from centre back seemed to lift the Dubliners. Ten minutes into the second half and it was 3.03 to 1.05 but it was clear that a goal was needed to turn the game. It was St Johns who secured the next goal which effectively killed off any hopes of a Crokes revival. Two good saves from Tadhg Murphy were needed to prevent the concession of further green flags and a competitive game ended 4.04 to 1.06. Despite the concession of goals, the full back line of Desmond Dagg, Ryan Murphy and Dan Coakley tried manfully throughout but such was the pressure they were under throughout that some concessions were inevitable. Cian O'Connor impressed with limited possession and Niall Sweeney worked very hard at wing forward.

Scorers: C Gowing 1.01, S Veale 0.02, C O'Connor 0.01, S Doyle 0.01, E Allen 0.01(65)

The final match of the day was against the Kilkenny standardbearers Clara. Playing with the wind, Crokes opened the scoring with a point from Conor Gowing. It was a precursor to an outstanding display from the captain who ended the game with a impressive 1.05 from play. A further point from Eamonn Allen augered well for Crokes however Clara then responded with two goals of their own and an additional 3 points. Playing with the wind, it looked like Crokes were in big trouble. Up stepped Shane Veale with the first of his 2 goals and this was a major boost to the Crokes lads. After a whirlwhind 10 minutes of hurling, Crokes were down by 2.03 to 2.01. The scoring rate slowed for the remaining 10 minutes and the half-time break saw Clara lead by 2.04 to 2.02. Crokes were now playing their best hurling of the day and the greater concentration on ground hurling was paying dividends. On the resumption, Shane Veale scored his second major of the game with an excellent ground strike. Two additional points for Crokes and with ten minutes to go, they led by 3.04 to 2.05. A pointed free from Michael Crowley following a foul on Ronan Kennedy were followed by a succession of magnificent points from Conor Gowing. Helped by quick and low delivery to his corner, Conor reeled off 3 points from around the 35 metre mark in quick succession. A further ground delivery from Sean Keating to Eamonn Allen resulted in another major for the Crokes. A confident Crokes were now playing excellent hurling epitomised in a good passing movement which ended with Ronan Kennedy sending over a point following a great run and pass from Conor Gowing. Clara never gave and scored a good goal to leave the scores at the final whistle 4.09 to 3.05 for Crokes. Conor Gowing showed the full range of his extensive skills in the final and he was ably supported by Shane Veale, Niall Sweeney, Sean Crowe, Eamonn Allen, Peter Herlihy and Desmond Dagg in particular.

Scorers: C Gowing 1.05, S Veale 2.0, E Allen 1.02, M  Crowley 0.01 (1f), R Kennedy 0.01.

Once again it was a tremendous tournament organised and hosted by Na Piarsaigh with their usual excellence. The quality of hurling throughout the day was very high and it was certainly a great learning experience for the Dublin boys. While it took the Crokes lads some time to adjust to the faster pace of the game, they will know that further games against similar quality opposition will only be of benefit.  

Panel: T Murphy, D Coakley, S Doyle, D Dagg, S Crowe, R Murphy, P Herlihy, E Allen, S Keatinig, A O'Neill, C Gowing, L Tucker, R Kennedy, S Veale, N Sweeney, C O'Connor

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