Silver Hill Foods Minor Hurling League Final Replay
Emmet Grattans 2-14 Castleblayney 0-17 AET 5/11/11
Emmet Grattans eventually saw off Castleblayney after extra-time in an absorbing Minor Hurling League Final Replay at Oram on Saturday. For the second week in a row, the teams finished level after an hour, but Carrickmacross/Inniskeen amalgamation Emmet Grattans held the edge in the extra 20 minutes, mainly thanks to a goal by Donal Meegan, whose move from wing-back made a huge difference for the victors. Like last Saturday, the game developed largely into a free-taking duel between Fergal Rafter for Blayney and Jamie Guinan for Emmet Grattans. Rafter scored 13 points, but still ended up on the losing team, while Guinan hit 1-9, including a fine goal from open play. Guinan and Donal Meegan accounted for all but three points of the south-Monaghan side’s total, while Pádraig Garland, Kevin Crawley and Colm and Conal Meegan also contributed well. Rafter had good support from Cormac McNally, Patrick Finnegan, Niall Garland and Tony Forde, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a second final defeat of the year for Blayney.
Fergal Rafter gave Blayney an early lead with a point from a free, but a brace of frees by Jamie Guinan edged Emmet Grattans ahead by the third minute. Rafter equalised with a good point from play before converting a 40-metre free for a foul on Barry Duffy, but Guinan replied from a 30-metre free for a foul on Edwin Haran. Rafter hit another well-taken point from play for Blayney, who then had goalkeeper Kevin Mackin to thank for blocking a shot from Haran and the follow-up effort by Jamie Dooley. Emmet Grattans took charge, though, by scoring 1-2 in the space of three minutes. Guinan got the first point from a 55-metre free after a foul on Gareth Keenan and Stefan Fitzpatrick added a score from play, before Guinan cut through on a mazy run and slammed home the opening goal. Rafter converted a 50-metre free for a foul on Barry Duffy, but Guinan responded from 60 metres out, following a foul on Keenan, to send Emmet Grattans in at half-time leading by 1-6 to 0-6.
Blayney started the second half brightly, as Rafter won and scored a 20-metre free and Niall Garland got on the end of a long ball from Patrick Finnegan to hit a good point and close the gap to the minimum. Guinan and Rafter swapped points from 30-metre frees after fouls on Ryan Gartlan and Keith Smith respectively, before Blayney edged ahead when Rafter powered over a brace of 60-metre frees, punishing indiscretions on Liam McCooey and Niall Garland. Donal Meegan brought Emmet Grattans back on level terms with a nice point, but Rafter pointed a superb free from inside his own half after a foul on Garland, who then set up Jason Walsh to double Blayney’s lead. A Ryan Gartlan point kept Emmet Grattans in touch, though, and they drew level when Keenan dispossessed Rafter and laid it off for Donal Meegan to hit his second point. Keenan added a point of his own, before Guinan converted a 40-metre free for a foul on Gartlan to make it four without a reply for Emmet Grattans, who now looked set for victory. A Tony Forde point reduced the gap to a point, however, and Blayney got the reward for their persistence when Rafter kept his nerve from a pressure ’65 three minutes into injury-time. That made the final score Castleblayney 0-15 Emmet Grattans 1-12, so extra-time was needed to separate the teams.
Guinan and Rafter exchanged points from frees in the early stages of extra-time, following fouls on Donal Meegan and Garland, before Emmet Grattans went close to a goal when Tadhg Meegan narrowly failed to connect with a Donal Meegan cross. It looked set to remain deadlocked at half-time in extra-time, but just before the whistle, Donal Meegan produced a moment of magic when he won a long ball from Colm Meegan and burst through to drill to the net, which was enough to give Emmet Grattans a three-point lead on a scoreline of 2-13 to 0-16.
A Guinan ’65 put four between the teams, although Emmet Grattans keeper Niall Butler was called into action when he blocked a goal-attempt from a Rafter free. Patrick Finnegan then won a penalty for Blayney, but Rafter’s shot rose sharply over the bar. Rafter had one last chance of the goal Blayney needed in injury-time, but his free went wide and Emmet Grattans celebrated a famous win, as their captain Gareth Keenan accepted the cup from County Board Hurling Officer Noel Mullaney.
Emmet Grattans: N Butler; M Quinn, P Garland, Conal Meegan; Colm Meegan, K Crawley, D Meegan (1-2); J Guinan (1-9, 0-8f, 0-1 ’65), G Keenan (Capt., 0-1); S Fitzpatrick (0-1), R Gartlan (0-1), E Haran; J Dooley, C Faul, T Meegan.
Castleblayney: K Mackin; K McCooey, C McNally, K Smith; N Adair, P Finnegan (Capt.), L McCooey; F McGeough, F Rafter (0-13, 9f, 1 ’65, 1 pen); B Duffy, T Forde (0-2), C McGeough; J Walsh (0-1), N Garland (0-1), M Leonard.
Subs: K McNally for Leonard (H-T), M Kelly for Smith (72 mins).
Referee: P Boylan (Clontibret).