Silver Hill Foods Minor Hurling League Final
Castleblayney 0-9 Emmet Grattans 0-9 29/10/11
Castleblayney and Emmet Grattans drew in the Minor Hurling League Final in difficult conditions at Oram on Saturday. The sides were level seven times in a low-scoring game which produced just four points from play – two for each team, all against the wind. Fergal Rafter edged his free-taking duel against Jamie Guinan by seven points to six, but it wasn’t enough to see Blayney over the line, while Carrickmacross/Inniskeen combination Emmet Grattans may feel they left this one behind them after they went in level at half-time, having played into the wind. Rafter, Niall Garland, Patrick Finnegan and Liam McCooey were prominent for Blayney, while Guinan, Donal and Conal Meegan, Pádraig Garland and Kevin Crawley had good games for Emmet Grattans.
Tadhg Meegan opened the scoring for Emmet Grattans after good work by Jamie Guinan, who won and scored a 40-metre free to double the amalgamated side’s lead, but Fergal Rafter converted a ’65 before winning and scoring a 30-metre free to bring Blayney level. Rafter went close to giving his team the lead when he took a pass from Patrick Finnegan and burst through only to drive his goal-attempt wide. Edwin Haren linked up with Ryan Gartlan to restore Emmet Grattans to the lead, but another ’65 from Rafter levelled it again after Jason Walsh had been blocked down when he had been put through on goal by Niall Garland. Guinan and Rafter swapped points from 20-metres frees – the former after Cormac McNally had been penalised for over-carrying and the latter after a foul on Garland – before Guinan sent over a fine score from a 55-metre free after he had been fouled. Rafter powered over an even better effort from his own 65-metre line, following a foul on Liam McCooey, and although Guinan won and scored a 30-metre free to edge Emmet Grattans ahead, a foul on Garland allowed Rafter to point another 60-metre free and leave the sides level at half-time on a scoreline of 0-6 apiece.
Garland became the first Blayney player other than Rafter to get on the scoresheet when he took a pass from Tony Forde to hit their first point from play a minute into the second half. Blayney went two clear for the first time when a 20-metre free by Rafter was deflected over the bar, after a foul on Mark Kelly, but Guinan kept Emmet Grattans in touch when he converted a 50-metre free for a foul on Jamie Dooley. Rafter was narrowly off-target with a shot at goal at the end of a strong run and his well-struck sideline cut almost caught out Emmet Grattans keeper Niall Butler, who reacted just in time to keep it out. A 30-metre free by Guinan, after a foul on Conor Faul, equalised, only for Blayney to edge ahead once again when Rafter won a Kevin Mackin puck-out before racing through and setting up Kevin McNally to split the posts. Emmet Grattans got back on terms through a great point from a long-range free by Donal Meegan, after a foul on Gareth Keenan. Blayney had another sight at goal when Butler was unable to deal with a cross from Rafter, but the keeper redeemed himself by blocking Jason McDonald’s shot. Neither side could manage a winning score, so they must return to Oram next Saturday for the replay.
Castleblayney: K Mackin; K McCooey, C McNally, K Smith; N Adair, P Finnegan (Capt.), L McCooey; F McGeough, T Forde; J Walsh, F Rafter (0-7, 5f, 2 ‘65s), N Garland (0-1); M Kelly, D Byrne, K McNally (0-1).
Subs: J Beatty for Byrne (15 mins), J McDonald for Kelly (42), N Flanagan for Beatty (inj., 58).
Emmet Grattans: N Butler; M Quinn, P Garland, Conal Meegan; Colm Meegan, K Crawley, S Crosby; J Guinan (0-6f), G Keenan (Capt.); S Fitzpatrick, R Gartlan, D Meegan (0-1f); E Haren (0-1), C Faul, T Meegan (0-1).
Subs: J Dooley for Crosby (34).
Referee: M Trainor (Clontibret).