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Mungret St Pauls made their annual trip to the Newtownshandrum hurling tournament last Saturday. We were restricted to bring 20 players and the 20 that attended on the day showed that they were a match for all comers, and with a bit of luck could have brought home the Dermot Naughton Memorial Trophy, but as it was the young charges won the B Final ensuring that they were the first Mungret St Pauls team to do so in the years we have been attending this prestigious tournament.
First out we played the might of Tipperary’s Clonoulty Rossmore, a team that pipped us in the semi final of last years Holycross tournament which was still fresh in the memory of a few of our players. Mungret won by the narrowest of margins, 1-1 to 1 goal, but the score line did not reflect the dominance we had in this game.
Next out we took on Ballyhea from Cork in what was a very one sided affair and indeed the accuracy that was lacking in the first game was discovered in this match as we won 7-2 to 1 goal.
In what was already a warm day the heat was turned up even further when we played Kilnadeema Leitrim of Galway in an attempt to secure a spot in the A final. The lads put every ounce of energy into a first half that saw us lead at half time 2-1 to 3 pts however the efforts of the previous games saw Kilnadeema come back in the second half as our lads began to flag in the heat and we eventually went down to a score of 3-4 to 2-1. All 20 players had played in each of the first three matches and the disappointment was evident on all their faces despite their heroic efforts against a team which was to draw the final with Sixmilebridge.
We had qualified for the B final, the farthest any Mungret team had progressed in this tournament but there was a steely determination in the team when they discovered they we to play Ahane of Limerick, a team that had given a weakened Mungret team a hammering in the Ballygunner tournament last year. The game was tight throughout and Mungret were again wasteful when it came to scoring chances and should have pulled away from Ahane which made for an exciting last few minutes. In what was to be the second last play of the game the Mungret full back gave away a 21 yard free straight in front of the goal, Ahane mentors were heard to say ‘go for the goal’ in what the referee said was to be the last play of the game. Mungret piled onto the goal line and the young men warned each other that no one was to move. A Joe Canning like bullet of a free was dispatched at the Mungret goal and the young men were as good as their word and didn’t flinch. The sliotar struck the Mungret full back on the chest (he has been proudly showing the bruise ever since) and then was cleared into the stand bringing the final whistle to this pulsating encounter.
We are immensely proud of the way these young men hurled and behaved throughout the day and they were a credit to their Club and families. The panel on the day was Rian Murphy, Conor Morgan, Eoin O’Hagan, Ronan Smith, Fintan Fitzgerald, Jason Hassett, Mark Buckley, JJ Harrington, David Guilfoyle, Cian Moloney, Ben O’Hagan, Evan Hamill/Braddish, Liam Moran, Max Duggan, Evan Bennett, Andrew Ahearne, Mark O’Brien, John Wright, Jack Somers and Conal Balfe.
A special thank you to all the mentors and the parents that travelled to support this team, and especially to the hosts Newtownshandrum who again put on a fantastic tournament and made all feel very welcome with the hospitality provided.