Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling All Ireland U21 B Championship Final – Kerry 0-16 Westmeath 1-9

NOLAN STARS AS KERRY COMPLETE HISTORIC 3 IN A ROW U-21 WINS

All-Ireland U-21 B Hurling Final

Kerry 0-16 Westmeath 1-9

By Murt Murphy for the Kerry GAA web site

Kerry produced a superb performance to capture the All-Ireland U-21 B Hurling title for the third year on the trot with a four point win over Westmeath at Semple Stadium Thurles this evening. Kerry led 0-9 to 0-7 and despite shooting sixteen wides, John Meyler’s young guns never looked in any danger of losing with Shane Nolan giving a Man of the match display. The Crotta O’Neill’s forward, , scored 0-11 as the Kingdom secured a four-point victory against Westmeath. Remarkably, Nolan has played in each of the last three years for Kerry’s successful under 21 teams and is eligible once again for this grade next year, but overall Kerry dominated in most sectors of the pitch.

However they could never relax against this Westmeath side because of some very wayward shooting but Kerry boss John Meyler will be pleased that the players that he hoped would step up to the plate, did exactly that. Martin Stackpoole, was ultra reliable in goal, making a number of crucial saves and his lengthy puck-outs were also a big bonus. He would appear to have leapfrogged JB O’Halloran as number two to Bernard Rochford on the senior squad and looks to have a bright future. Westmeath came with a big reputation in their full-forward but they were met head on by Kerry’s best line, which just like the semi final against Roscommon, was the fullback line.

Brian Murphy from Causeway, continues the catch the eye at fullback with another superb display of defending. His bravery under the dropping ball, his ability to read the game and his blocking were once again superb and he will be a senior in the near future. He got great help from his two cornerbacks, James O’Connor and captain Jason Bowler who hurled magnificently throughout, clearing their lines time and time again while they also swept up behind their fullback.

Centre back Anthony Fealy is improving with every outing and is developing into a top class defender, another with a tremendous positional sense. The diminutive PJ Keane was tenacious throughout ands got his stick in to effect some vital blocks, while Jason Leahy, was tight and cleared some great ball in the second half. Overall the Kerry defence, was superb in both games and John Meyler and his management team will be looking to get three or four players for next years senior squad, and should have little difficulty in finding them.

The selection of Sean Dowling at midfield with Brendan Brosnan might well have seen as a risk but Dowling hurled admirably and god in some great work for his team with Brosnan being his assured self after a torrid ten minutes before half time against Clarke. The Kerry attack was superbly led by Shane Nolan who was always threat, and his point taking from the wings was most impressive. He rallied his side when Westmeath threatened to spoil the party and he is fast developing into a classy performer.

Darragh O’Connell missed some frees early on, which may have affected his performance but when the game was getting tight, O’Connell showed his class with some great fetching and running at opponents. Ronan Kenny tried hard and got in some useful work, while young Pa Joe Connolly showed glimpses of the young talent that he is, and though Colm Harty and Patrick O’Keeffe have had better outings, they still played a part. Two of the substitutes who cam in early showed up well with Sean Weir adding pace to the attack while Alan O’Leary got stuck with some excellent defensive work late on.

Kerry were on top from the very outset and raced 0-5 to 0-1 clear by the 17th minute but Kerry shot six wides also. Darragh O’Connell at the fourth attempt posted Kerry’s first score in the 6th minute from a free, and points followed from Ronan Kenny, Brendan Brosnan, Pat Joe Connelly, and Shane Nolan with Barry O’Meara opening Westmeath’s account in the 14th minute. Kerry continued to rack up the wides but still led 0-6 to 0-3 after twenty three minutes, with Nolan adding another point. Kerry then lost their way a little coming up to half time with Westmeath’s John Gilligan and both midfielders winning vital possession, and points flowed from O’Meara, Boyle, McGrath and Dowdall. Kerry responded with three from Nolan, one from a ‘65, and Nolan and Kenny had by now swapped positions.

Kerry led 0-9 to 0-7 at the interval but had shot eight wides so nothing was secured as the teams retired to the dressing rooms. The introduction of Sean Weir gave Kerry more penetration in attack and if they had taken their chances in the third quarter, they would have been home and hosed. Westmeath might have goaled in the 38th minute when Dowdall shot across Stackpoole but outside the right hand post, as Kerry had to wait until the 40th minute for their score of the half from Shane Nolan who followed quickly with another class effort. When Pa Joe Connolly made it 0-12 to 0-7, it was almost game over considering r the way Brian Murphy and the Kerry defence were playing.

However by the 46th minute Kerry had amassed 13 wides and then Martin Stackpoole made a great save from McGrath in the 47th minute but Boyle pointed the ’65 and followed up with another from play and suddenly with twelve minutes left, the gap was three. There was to be no comeback by Westmeath however as Shane Nolan took over with Darragh O’Connor and Sean Weir providing the assists , he added three more points to push Kerry six in front.

It was now back to wall stuff by Kerry with some heroic defending as Keane denied O’Meara, and Stackpoole denied Boyle with a stunning save. O’Connor, Murphy, Leahy and Fealy all cleared dangerous situations. In the final minute Westmeath did get a goal from McGrath after a free had been blocked – but a superb Darragh O’Connell led to a free that Nolan converted and Kerry were All-Ireland Champions for the third year in a row. It has been a great year for Kerry hurling, with a Chritsy Ring Cup and All-Ireland U-21 title plus retention of Div 2 status so well done to John Meyler and his management team, for continuing to point Kerry hurling in the

Scorers — Kerry: S Nolan 0-11 (5f, 1 ’65’), PJ Connolly 0-2, B Brosnan, R Kenny, D O’Connell (f) 0-1 each.

Westmeath: A Clarke 1-1, C Boyle 0-3 (1 ’65’), B O’Meara 0-2 (1f), N Dowdall, A McGrath, C Murphy 0-1 each.

Kerry: M Stackpoole; J O’Connor, B Murphy, J Bowler; PJ Keane, A Fealy, J Leahy; B Brosnan, S Dowling; D O’Connell, R Kenny, P O’Keeffe; C Harty, S Nolan, PJ Connolly. Subs: S Weir for O’Keeffe (h-t), A O’Leary for Harty (38), S Leen for Connolly (59), B Leen for Kenny (60+2).

Westmeath: S McGovern; S Fagan, C Slator, A Fitzsimons; N Dowdall, J Gilligan, P Dermody; A Clarke, C Boyle; K Martin, A McGrath, T Doyle; C Murphy, S Boylan, B O’Meara. Subs: M Heffernan for Murphy (41), C Scally for McGrath (49).

Referee: C Lyons (Cork)

Team News

KERRY U21 HURLING TEAM FOR ALL IRELAND FINAL

The Kerry U21 team V Westmeath on Saturday 10th September has been announced and is as follows:

1. Martin Stackpoole (Lixnaw)
2. James O Connor (Abbeydorney) 3. Brian Murphy (Causeway) 4. Jason Bowler, Captain (Ballyduff)
5. PJ Keane (Abbeydorney) 6. Anthony Fealy (Causeway) 7. Jason Leahy (Causeway)
8. Brendan Brosnan (Lixnaw) 9. Sean Dowling (Kilmoyley)
10. Darragh O’Connell (Abbeydorney) 11. Ronan Kenny (Ballyheigue) 12. Patrick O’Keeffe (Glenflesk)
13. Colm Harty (Causeway) 14. Shane Nolan (Crotta O’Neills) 15. Pa Joe Connolly (Ballyduff)

Substitutes : 16. Nicholas Leen (Ballyduff) 17. Stephen Leen (Ardfert) 18.Anthony Carroll (Ballyduff) 19. Brian Leen (Abbeydorney) 20. Kevin Orpen (Ardfert) 21. Sean Weir (Crotta O’Neills) 22. Alan O’Leary (Kenmare) 23. Adam White (Causeway) 24. John Brendan O’Halloran (Kilmoyley) 25. Conor Fitzelle (Kilmoyley) 26. Micheal O Sullivan (Kilgarvan) 27. Gary Marshall , Douglas 28.Thomas Quill, Crotta O’Neills

Bainisteoir John Meyler

Trainer Joe O’Connor

Maor Foirne Frank Flannery

Selector John Hennessey

Selector Sean O’Shea

Physiotherapist Trudy Tait