SWAN’S SONG LIFTS ‘KNOCK
Luke’s free-taking heroics vital in glory
DUBLIN U15 HC ‘A’ FINAL
BALLYBODEN ST ENDA’S………………………………….3-9
LUKE Swan produced an outstanding individual display at Blakestown on Sunday afternoon, when Castleknock held off a late rally from Ballyboden St Enda’s to secure the Dublin U15 ‘A’ Hurling Championship title, writes Daire Walsh.
An astonishing 0-14 haul by the impressive Swan had stretched Castleknock into a seemingly unassailable lead, and even though ‘Boden eventually responded with goals from Daragh Kenny, Rhys McDonnell and Luke Mulligan Lynch, the Somerton Park outfit prevailed at the end of an enthralling contest.
The conditions at St Peregrine’s GAA remained dry throughout the course of the action, but ‘Boden did have a wind advantage during the opening half. Castleknock broke the deadlock from their opening attack with a point by Luke Callinan however, and while St Enda’s captain Kenny did reply with an excellent point from long-distance, a brace of frees from Swan allowed Castleknock to create some daylight between the teams by the 11th minute.
Centre-back Conor Murray released much of the pressure on his defence with a series of eye-catching clearances, but as the half developed, ‘Boden slowly got to grips with the tempo of the play.
Midfielder McDonnell helped Johnny Kenny’s side to level matters with a couple of placed-ball efforts, before half-back Sean Murphy edged them in front with a superb score from inside his own ’65’.
Castleknock were now coming under sustained pressure from their Pairc Ui Murchu counterparts, and after McDonnell added another 0-2 salvo, Kenny’s terrific sideline cut from the right-wing split the posts in spectacular fashion.
They proceeded to increase their advantage with a Ryan O’Dwyer point, but despite registering seven first-half wides, another brace from the influential Swan meant that Castleknock’s interval deficit stood at just three points (0-8 to 0-5).
This placed Castleknock in a positive frame of mind for the start of the second period, and within six minutes of the resumption, they had restored parity to the proceedings once again. Swan found his range from 50 metres to secure his fifth point of the day, and after he added a routine free to his tally, he recorded his first score from play on the right-hand side.
They now appeared to have some momentum behind them, and when Swan converted another brace of frees, Castleknock had hit seven points without reply.
Ballyboden St Enda’s finally disrupted this scoring sequence when McDonnell raised a white flag under intense pressure from the opposition defence, but this only provided them with a temporary respite.
Points from Swan (three) and the industrious Callinan offered considerable leeway to Castleknock, and after Thomas Norton had a goal-bound effort turned away by Eoghan Deignan, substitute Michael Bohan was on hand to finish off the subsequent rebound.
Another mini-scoring burst by Player of the Match Swan had Castleknock ten points to the good (1-16 to 0-9) seven minutes from the end, but to their credit, a determined St Enda’s discovered a way back into contention.
Kenny dispatched a close-range free beyond the reach of Evan McSherry for a much-needed goal, and when McDonnell found the net from a tight-angle moments later, they were aiming for a dramatic finale.
A Norton point settled the nerves of the Castleknock faithful, though, and in spite of a third ‘Boden goal from Mulligan Lynch in stoppage-time, they held out for a hard-earned triumph.
Scorers – Castleknock: L Swan 0-14 (12f), M Bohan 1-0, L Callinan 0-2, T Norton 0-1. Ballyboden St Enda’s: R McDonnell 1-5 (0-4f), D Kenny 1-2 (1-0f, 0-1 s/line), L Mulligan Lynch 1-0, S Murphy (f), R O’Dwyer 0-1 each.
CASTLEKNOCK: E McSherry; O Farrell, S Forker, I Carroll; R O’Shea, C Murray, R Deehan; A Watson, D Murphy; L Swan, L Callinan, R Buckley; T Norton, K Murray, B Harding.
Subs: M Bohan for K Murray (36), M Lynam for Deehan (60).
BALLYBODEN ST ENDA’S: E Deignan; M Manning, J Maguire, O Dunne; D Monahan, A Gavin, S Murphy; D Kenny, R McDonnell; E Behan, L Mulligan Lynch, R O’Dwyer; C Hassett, H O’Sullivan, O King.
Subs: M McDonald for King (37), R Power for Behan (43), G O’Kelly for Hassett (51), D Sweeney for O’Sullivan (54), R O’Halloran for Manning (55).
MENTORS – Castleknock: Liam O Flannagain, Conor Corcoran. Ballyboden St Enda’s: Johnny Kenny, Paul Manning, Mick Keville, Emmett Carroll.
Referee: Andrew Larkin (St Peregrine’s).
WIDES – Castleknock: 10 (7+3). Ballyboden St Enda’s: 7 (4+3).
CONDITIONS: Dry and breezy conditions throughout.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Luke Swan (Castleknock).