ESB GAA Hurling All Ireland Minor ‘B’ Championship Final – Kerry v Westmeath

Sublime Boyle breaks Westmeath hearts to seal title for Kerry

From the Irish Independent newspaper

Monday August 24 2009

A superbly drilled Kerry side saw off a gallant Westmeath outfit in this thrilling final, played in Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary, on Saturday afternoon. Kerry can thank the precocious Padraig Boyle for two sublime second-half efforts off the hurley and from play and with fellow wing- forward Patrick O’Keeffe firing over two more vital points, this proved enough to push Kerry clear in the final quarter. Westmeath had the wind in the opening half but it was Kerry who raced 0-5 to 0-1 in front with two points from Shane Nolan and one each from Padraig Boyle and Brian Leen. Westmeath fought back, however, with Barry O’Meara converting a succession of frees and then took the lead when Angus Clarke shot into the Kerry net in the 22nd minute. The Lake County led 1-7 to 0-9 at the interval but the second half was tension-packed with intense championship hurling from both sides.

Barry O’Meara extended Westmeath’s lead with an early second-half point but Kerry then took over and five unanswered points took the Kingdom two clear at the three-quarter stage. However Westmeath fought back and two more points from O’Meara and another from substitute Conor Thompson saw them regain the lead with 13 minutes remaining. Kerry responded in the style of champions though, with points from Sean Weir, O’Keeffe and the score of the game from 15-year-old Boyle that gave Kerry the cushion they managed to hold on to despite a late Westmeath flourish.

Scorers — Kerry: S Nolan 0-6 (0-4f) P Boyle 0-4 (0-1f) P O’Keeffe 0-3, B Brosnan (0-2 ’65s), S Weir 0-2 each, A O’Leary, C Harty, S Dunne, B Leen 0-1 each. Westmeath: B O’Meara 0-9, (0-2 frees) A Clarke 1-0, S Boylan 0-2 (0-1 free) S Donaher, C Thompson 0-1 each

Kerry — N Leen; T Maunsell, M O’Regan, B Murphy; A O’Leary, B Brosnan, J Bowler; C Harty, S Weir; P Boyle, S Leen, P O’Keeffe; S Dunne, S Nolan, B Leen. Subs: L Fitzell for B Leen, S Dowling for S Leen, C McCarthy for J Bowler.

Westmeath — C Scally; A Shields, D Gavin, D Healy; C Boyle, A McGrath, J Cassidy; S Boylan, C O’Brien; G Flynn, A Clarke, S Donaher; E Kincaid, B O’Meara, B Laide. Subs: C Thompson for P Laide, T Doyle for A Shields, D Gavin for G Flynn.

Ref — J O’Mahony (Limerick)

Westmeath edged out by hungry Kerry

Kerry 0-21, Westmeath 1-13

From the Westmeath Examiner newspaper

Westmeath’s Shane Donaher tries to get away from Kerry’s Sean Weir during Saturday’s All-Ireland Minor ‘B’ Hurling final in Cloughjordan. Short the services of many keys players from their memorable Leinster Championship run earlier this year, Westmeath minor hurlers fell at the last fence for the second year running. They lost to a fit and focused Kerry outfit in a very entertaining decider.

With injuries and a bereavement to add to the non-selection of two players who had failed to show for the semi-final win over Armagh, it was a depleted Lake County side who took the field at the well-appointed County Tipperary venue last Saturday, but there was still enough class in the maroon and whites’ squad to suggest that the cup could be won. However, the Kingdom lads’ destruction of Meath in the penultimate round was ominous and the green and golds proved to be a very useful team, roared on by a significantly larger number of fans than their opponents, given that the county had their Under-21 hurlers in action in the curtain-raiser. At the end of a ding-dong struggle, the Kerry lads just about deserved their win, with eight players contributing a very creditable total of 21 points between them, many of the scores of a very high quality. Undoubtedly, this is a trophy that slipped from Westmeath’s grasp and it is truly an enormous pity that not all players showed the competition the respect it deserved. Those who did and wore the maroon jersey with pride will be bitterly disappointed not to have garnered an All-Ireland medal, when Celtic Crosses in hurling are such a rarity in the Lake County.

Westmeath had whatever advantage was accruing from a mainly crossfield wind but it was the Kingdom lads who were the livelier in the early exchanges. They opened the scoring in the second minute with a well-taken point from Shane Nolan, after initial hesitation. Barry O’Meara soon equalised from a 30-metre free, but the winners raced into a four-point lead by the tenth minute with points from Padraig Boyle (a terrific score from 55 metres), a brace of Shane Nolan frees (from 45 and 25 metres respectively) and team captain Brian Leen (a neat point under pressure). Westmeath’s Barry O’Meara almost snuck in for a goal during this perid of Kerry dominance, but the Crookedwood lad was bundled out of it by a tight-marking Kerry defence. O’Meara then made amends with a great point from a tight angle but a lovely point from Shane Dunne put the Munster side 0-6 to 0-2 at the midpoint of the first moiety.

Seamus Qualter’s charges then took control and rattled off three unanswered points. Sandwiched between a great brace from Stephen Boylan (a fine score from play and a 60-metre free), Barry O’Meara maintained his outstanding freetaking form with a converted 40-metre free. His opposite number, Shane Nolan was also on form from placed balls and he rifled over a 30-metre free in the 21st minute. The only goal of the contest arrived in the 23rd minute, a lovely pass from Barry O’Meara picking out Aonghus Clarke and the Under-16 star from Castletown-Geoghegan took a few steps goalward before unleashing a piledriver to the top of the Kerry net. Shane Donaher chipped in with an opportunist point after picking up the sliotar from Stephen Boylan’s long-range free, to put the losers two points to the good. However, this lead was quickly wiped out by Kerry points from Patrick O’Keeffe and a Padraig Boyle free (the change of freetaker indicative that the number 10 had a goal on his mind, but the ball flew over the bar). In the second last minute of normal time, Barry O’Meara converted a routine free to leave Westmeath ahead at the break by the narrowest of margins, 1-7 to 0-9.

Westmeath increased their lead within 25 seconds of the resumption of play, a stumbling Aonghus Clarke doing well to pick out Barry O’Meara who applied a neat finish over the Kerry crossbar. However, the winners clicked into immediate action and fired over four points in as many minutes to take a two-point lead. Four different scorers popped up – Patrick O’Keeffe (a wonderful effort), Shane Nolan (despite being heavily pressurised), Alan O’Leary (timing his run from defence to perfection) and Padraig Boyle (a great individual score). Indeed, it could have got worse for the losers when Shane Dunne’s ‘goal’ was disallowed for a chop en route to goal and Cathal Scally saved a weak shot from Shane Nolan, when a goal looked certain. In the 12th minute, Sean Weir got his name on the scoresheet with a great long-range strike. Westmeath badly needed a score to settle the nerves and it duly arrived from the ever-reliable Barry O’Meara from a 30-metre free. Substitute Conor Thompson then chipped in with an opportunist point after a period of scrappy play and when Barry O’Meara converted a tricky free, it was all to play for with a quarter of an hour remaining, with the sides tied.

Soon afterwards, Cathal Scally blocked Shane Nolan’s half-volleyed shot at the expense of a ’65’ which was expertly converted by Brendan Brosnan. Alan McGrath, who was carrying an injury into the game and operating at full forward rather than his conventional role as defensive pivot, almost got through for a much-needed Westmeath goal before an unmarked Patrick O’Keeffe slotted over a fine Kerry point from 45 metres. Barry O’Meara (a 35-metre free) and Sean Weir (after cleverly shortening his grip on the hurley) then swapped points. A terrific piece of individual stickwork freed Padraig Boyle to rifle over a lovely point, but Barry O’Meara’s frees were keeping the losers in touch and he whipped over his seventh placed ball with five minutes of normal time remaining.

The Kingdom boys were only two points to the good but they wrapped up the title in fine style in the closing minutes. A fabulous point from a tight angle by Colm Harty was followed by another successful Brendan Brosnan ’65’ and a converted free from 25 metres by Shane Nolan. Shane Dunne then came very close to netting for the winners and Westmeath’s wholehearted attempts to eke out a face-saving goal were thwarted when Nicky Leen pulled off a great save from Aonghus Clarke’s goalbound rasper, with Alan McGrath unable to bundle home the rebound in a massed goalmouth. Moments later the Kingdom lads were celebrating a rare but deserved title in the small ball game.

Kerry: Nicky Leen; Tommy Maunsell, Mark O’Regan, Bryan Murphy; Alan O’Leary (0-1), Brendan Brosnan (0-2, both from ’65’s), Jason Bowler; Colm Harty (0-1), Sean Weir (0-2); Padraig Boyle (0-4, 0-1 from a free), Stephen Leen, Patrick O’Keeffe (0-3); Shane Dunne (0-1), Shane Nolan (0-6, 0-4 from frees), Brian Leen (0-1). Subs: Luke Fitzell (for B.Leen, 54 mins), Sean Dowling (for S.Leen, 60 +1 mins), Chris McCarthy (for Bowler, 60 +1 mins).

Westmeath: Cathal Scally; Patrick Laide, Diarmuid Garvin, Derek Healy; Cormac Boyle, Adam Sheils, Jordy Cassidy; Stephen Boylan (0-2, 0-1 from a free), Colin O’Brien; Aonghus Clarke (1-0), Glen Flynn, Shane Donaher (0-1); Enda Kincaid, Alan McGrath, Barry O’Meara (0-9, 0-7 from frees). Subs: Thomas Doyle (for Sheils, half-time), Conor Thompson (0-1) (for Kincaid, 40 mins), David Fennell (for Laide, 45 mins), David Higgins (for Flynn, 51 mins).

Referee: Jason O’Mahony (Limerick)