Craobh’s Ulster dream crushed by Kickhams
Tuesday, 29 October 2013
CRAOBH RUA 1-07 CREGGAN KICKHAMS 0-13.
CRAOBH Rua's dream of Ulster glory came to an abrupt end after losing to Antrim club champions Creggan Kickhams on Sunday.
The Junior Ulster Hurling Club Final was played in Armagh's Athletic Grounds and while the south Armagh hurlers battled and played with conviction, they understandably lacked the experience at this level to overcome Creggan.
Conditions weren't perfect for quick, free-flowing hurling with a strong swirling wind, mixed in with flashes of rain and a damp ground, making life difficult for the hurlers.
The Camlough/Bessbrook based side matched their Antrim opponents for effort and at times conviction, but Creggan possessed a decisive cutting edge in attack. They were the more composed side in front of the posts and were cute enough not to give away too many frees where Craobh Rua could punish.
And importantly the Antrim men got their hands on the sliotar in more dangerous positions and their excellent support play meant they usually had an outlet to continue their attack.
The south Armagh side scored more from play in injury-time than in the 60 minutes beforehand. They registered one point from play on 30 minutes - a fine strike from Paul Cunningham - and had to wait until injury-time when Kyle Kane kicked in a deserved goal and Fiachra Bradley notched a point.
But it was too little to late as Creggan won with three points to spare.
While the south Armagh men may be disappointed with the result it has still been a remarkable year for the club having finally won the Armagh Junior Hurling Club Championship this year after coming so agonisingly close over the past decade.
And to have reached an Ulster Final on their first attempt is a remarkable achievement, but not surprising.
While this season was the breakthrough year for the Senior team, the Camlough club has been on the rise at underage level over recent years, competing and winning silverware and those young players have helped Craobh Rua improve.
Players like Fiachra, Michael Bradley and Paul Cunningham have given over a decade of service to the club and they have coached many of the young players on their team, and while Sunday's defeat will hurt it shouldn't detract from the magnificent County Championship win earlier this season.
Creggan captain Stephen Colgan said his side had to lose an Ulster Final only two years ago before learning how to win one - and Craobh Rua can take heed.
While Craobh Rua finished the game in storming scoring fashion, it was already petering out on a sour note as the Camlough men finished the game with 13 players while Creggan were reduced to 14.
Camlough's Ryan Lewis was first to walk on 45 minutes after receiving a second yellow and then captain Michael Garvey was given a red card. Only a minute earlier Garvey was the victim of a horrendous challenge where he was barged to the ground and almost into the fencing beside the stand. Creggan's perpetrator Kevin Rice only received a yellow card and Garvey uncharacteristically sought retribution.
But with 60 minutes played, Rice did receive a second yellow card.
With 20 minutes played Craobh Rua trailed Creggan 0-3 to 0-4 with Eoghan Robb the sole scorer for the Camlough side, but by half-time the gap increased to 0-5 to 0-9 with Robb and Cunningham adding to Craobh's tally, but Oran and Conor McCann were in scoring mode for the Antrim side.
Creggan's Conor McCann dropped deep and he caught most of the high passes aiming for Craobh's forward line. Young Kyle Kane and Eoghan Robb showed flashes of skill with daring runs, but Creggan covered their goal-line.
Mark Fleming, Garvey and Fiachra Bradley impressed and the team couldn't be faulted for effort, but on the day they found it difficult to overcome Creggan.
Bradley's converted 65' closed the gap but that was Craobh Rua's only score until injury-time and although Creggan only tagged on another four points, it was enough to defeat Craobh Rua.
CRAOBH RUA: Ryan Lundey, Michael Lewis, Mark Fleming, Hugh Hanna, Sean Casey, Michael Garvey, Micheal Doran, Fiachra Bradley (0-2, 1 65'), Ryan Lewis, Paul Cunningham (0-1),
Micheal Bradley, Conor Devlin, Eoghan Robb (0-4, 65 and 3 frees), Paddy O'Connor and Kyle Kane (1-0).
Subs used: Fionnan Burns for Devlin 20', Aodhan Nutley for Hanna 33' and Jay O'Hare for O'Connor 43'.
CREGGAN KICKHAMS: Brendan Prenter, Declan McCann, Aidan Maguire, Dominic Totten, Frank McAuley, Aidan McKeown, Martin Johnston, Sam Maguire, Thomas McCann, James Carey, Oran McCann (0-7, 65', 5 frees), Kevin Rice, Conleth McGrenaghen (0-1), James Dougan and Conor McCann (0-3).
Subs used: Matthew Nelson (0-1) for Dougan 48'.
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