HURLING: Strong finish sees Chiaráin’s past St Jude’s

by Aaron Dunne
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Craobh Chiaráin 0-19

St Jude’s 0-15

Craobh Chiaráin deservedly claimed the Go Ahead Dublin Senior ‘2’ Hurling Championship title when finishing strongly to defeat St Jude’s by four points at Parnell Park on Sunday afternoon.

A close-run encounter was anticipated in advance and so it transpired with the teams level on no less than nine occasions but there was no denying the worthiness of Craobh’s victory as they largely controlled matters after the break.

The first-half was a hugely enjoyable affair with neither side particularly dominating any aspect and as a result, the lead exchanged hands at regular intervals.

St Jude’s made the brighter opening with an excellent run and point from David Andrews inside ten seconds added to by a cracking Joe McManus point from distance soon after.

The inside forward line of Craobh looked dangerous throughout with Billy Ryan opening their account through a 3rd minute free before Paul Kelly popped over a minute later to restore parity.

A brace of McManus frees restored St Judes’ two-point advantage but the lively Ryan and Kevin Warren soon had Craobh back on level terms with points of the highest quality.

The ebb and flow continued unabated with Danny Sutcliffe landing a superb score from the right flank in the 12th minute only for Warren to draw the teams level from the resultant puck-out.

Billy Ryan’s second point from play at the end of the first quarter edged the Donnycarney side ahead for the first time but their opponents struck back with three points on the bounce through McManus (free), Conor Nolan and Michael Foley to put some daylight between the sides.

Unsurprisingly, that daylight didn’t last too long as Paul Kelly and Conor Ryan replied for Chiaráin’s towards the end of the half with McManus converting his fourth free of the half to regain some level of initiative for the Templeogue outfit.

However, with Gary Kelly excelling in a sweeper role, the locals finished the half on the front foot with a Billy Ryan free and an excellent Robbie Mahon point leaving them 0-10 to 0-9 ahead by the interval.

The second-half resumed with Craobh maintaining that momentum and while a couple of shots went narrowly wide, they deservedly doubled their narrow lead through a fine Cian Derwin score in the 35th minute.

Their opponents were struggling to make any impression up front at this stage and were fortunate to see Craobh continue to spurn presentable chances at extending their lead.

A McManus free in the 38th minute helped settle St Jude’s and the same player turned sharply before splitting the uprights two minutes later to leave the sides deadlocked once again.

Chiaráin’s briefly found their shooting sticks as they regained their two-point buffer thanks to James Finn and Warren but St Jude’s were back in touch thanks to an inspirational score from Ciaran Hogan and a smart score by substitute Alan Connolly.

Sutcliffe was generally well held throughout but escaped his markers briefly to edge his team in front with another sublime effort from out wide but unsurprisingly, that lead proved a brief one as Billy Ryan converted a 47th minute free.

Ryan was heavily involved in the next attack as his shot rebounded off the upright into Darren Kelly’s hand but Ross O’Reilly performed heroics in the St Jude’s goal to acrobatically deflect the goal-bound shot over the crossbar.

A cracking Conor Ryan sideline pushed Craobh two points clear and while the hard-working John Carty replied for St Jude’s in the 55th minute, it proved their final score of the game.

From that point, Chiarain’s pushed on with two brilliant points by Paul Kelly and a Billy Ryan free leaving Enda Ryan’s team full value for their victory by the final whistle.

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