Passage U15 Hurlers Claim Historic County Title in Thrilling Final Showdown
Passage 1-21 Sliabh Rua 3-11
On Sunday last in Bishopstown GAA Club, we witnessed a historic moment as the Passage U15 hurlers clinched the club’s fourth-ever underage County title, defeating a formidable Sliabh Rua team in a fiercely contested match. This victory was undoubtedly well-deserved after an extraordinary and impressive year for this young Passage team. In an amazing year, Passage had already secured the club’s first-ever Feile title during the summer and continued their winning form by claiming the championship just a few weeks ago. With these victories in their pocket, there was a quiet confidence that the club would add the County trophy to their list of achievements.
From the opening whistle, both teams showcased their skill and passion, treating the huge amount of supporters present to an exhilarating display of hurling. The match flowed end to end, carrying spectators on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, as each side fought tooth and nail for victory. Every tackle and challenge exhibited an unparalleled level of commitment, highlighting the intensity of the contest. Throughout the year, Passage had consistently demonstrated their ability to excel in close games, relying on their sheer determination and skill. Sunday’s final was no exception, as they once again showcased their remarkable resilience when it mattered most. In the closing stages of the game, Passage managed to break away from their opponents, securing a hard-fought victory that left the Passage supporters ecstatic with joy. From defence to attack, every member of the Passage team seemed to rise to the occasion, delivering standout performances that left their mark on the match.
As the final whistle blew, jubilation swept over the Passage supporters, whose unwavering support had undoubtedly helped the team’s success. This victory will forever hold a special place in the hearts of the players, coaches, and supporters alike, as it marks a significant milestone in the club’s history. The Passage U15 hurlers have cemented their legacy in the history of the club. Their remarkable achievements throughout the year, culminating in this historic County title, serve as a testament to their dedication, skill and talent. Looking ahead, Passage will undoubtedly continue to build upon this success, using it as a stepping stone hopefully to further glory. It is clear that the future of Passage Hurling is in capable hands.
Passage playing against the strong wind in the first half, raised the first white flag of the game from a 65 from Sean Coughlan after Zac Hanlon had a goal chance blocked. Sliabh Rua responded with several balls being launched into the Passage full back line. Rueben Ring cleared two quick balls and Shane Whyte won a free after he was fouled catching the ball in the air. The siege continued, Sliabh Rua, hitting two wides before they finally registered their first point at the five-minute mark. In the next few minutes, Sean Cash, Shane Whyte and Oisin O’Sullivan batted down some high balls coming in. It was back to the walls for the Passage team and Sliabh Rua went ahead for the first time with a well-taken point from their centre forward. From the puck out Alex Meagher and Callum Griffin worked the ball into Zac Hanlon. His shot on goal was superbly saved by the Sliabh Rua goalkeeper. Zac was again the target man for the next Passage attack and this time he was fouled. Sean Coughlan made no mistake from the resulting free to level the scores once more.
Sliabh Rua responded and fortunately for Passage, they shot three wides in a row. Two of these wides were forced errors from great defending by Oisin O’Sullivan and Alex Meagher. Callum Griffin was hurling well around the middle of the park and he played a great ball into his younger brother Brian. Brian won the ball and was fouled as he turned towards goal. Sean Coughlan drove the free in towards full forward Zac, who broke free of his man to fire an unstoppable shot to the back of the net. The ground shook with the cheer from the Passage supporters. In the next passage of play, Sean Cash cleared the long puck out and you couldn’t take your eye off the game for a second. Sliabh Rua attacked again and scored two well-taken points in a space of a minute to narrow the gap. Alex Meagher, Callum and Eoghan O’Byrne linked up to set up sharpshooter Sean Coughlan for another point almost immediately. Sliabh Rua responded with two efforts that went wide and another that Passage goalkeeper David O’Connor came out and cleared. Sliabh Rua wereawarded a free in their own half and their full-back sent it over the bar. In the next few minutes, Diarmuid Buckley, Oisin O’Sullivan, Shane Whyte, Sean Cash and Rueben all made good clearances.
The Passage defence’s blocking and tackling were exceptionable and every ball was hotly contested. Sliabh Rua was awarded another free and their full forward made no mistake to level the game. Sliabh Rua then scored a goal when their forward found himself free with only keeper David O’Connor to beat. Like the semi-final Passage didn’t panic and quietly worked their way back into the game. Philip Heavey got a well-worked point and Sean Coughlan scored a 65 that corner forward Ollie O’Neill won by forcing the Sliabh Rua corner back to make a mistake. It was now a one-point game and both sides missed some scoring opportunities. Sliabh Rua scored a soft goal in the next passage of play when the Sliabh Rua forward found himself free again.
The Passage defence tightened up after this and Diarmuid Buckley and Sean Cash battled hard to ensure that Sliabh Rua didn’t extend their lead in this period. Callum Griffin caught a great ball out of the air to set up Sean Coughlan for the next score of the game. From the puck out Sean O’ Regan was fouled and Sean Coughlan fired over the resulting free to narrow the gap to two points. From the puck out, Alex Meagher showing a great work ethic managed to force the Sliabh Rua forward to shoot wide. Passage brought on Morgan Kelleher in the closing minutes of the half and his physical presence added another bit of steel to the Passage defence. Diarmuid Buckley went down injured on the edge of the square after clearing the ball and it allowed everyone in attendance to have a breather. Sliabh Rua won and pointed a free on the restart to leave them three points up coming up to the halftime whistle. A quick puck out found Sean Coughlan out in the halfway line. He turned his man and drove a monster shot over the bar to finish the half. The halftime score was Passage 1-8 Sliabh Rua 2-7.
Thankfully the wind dying down at the start of the second half made no impact to Passage. They made a few positional changes during the break and were fast out of the tracks at the throw-in. Philip Heavey set up Callum Griffin for the first point of the half inside the first minute. The play was stopped momentarily for an injury to Zac Hanlon. Diarmuid Buckley set up Sean Coughlan for another long-range point to level the score yet again. There was some confusion when the scoreboard indicated that Sliabh Rua had scored the point, but this was quickly rectified. The game flowed end to end with Morgan Kelleher, Rueben Ring, Sean Cash and goalkeeper David O’Connor getting in some great clearances. Sliabh Rua seemed to be getting a fair amount of 50/50 calls from the referee and they scored another point from a free to go back in front. The Sliabh Rua goalkeeper then saved two shots from Callum Griffin and Zac Hanlon. The save from Zac resulted in a 65, that Sean Coughlan converted.
Sean scored another point after Sean Cash managed to bat the sliothar down to him from the Sliabh Rua puck out. Passage seemed to be in control but conceded another goal after Diarmuid Buckley and David O’Connor batted out the ball and the Sliabh Rua player hit a ground shot that went into the far corner. It was noticeable that Morgan Kelleher and Oisin O’Sullivan were starting to dominate in the half-back line. Ben Horgan entered the game and it was great to see him back playing after spending a lot of the summer on the sidelines with a knee injury. He immediately made an impact setting up Sean Coughlan for a goal chance. Sean hit an unstoppable shot that came back off the crossbar. Alex Meagher and Brian Griffin managed to win the ball out of the resulting ruck and they set up Sean O’Regan for a great point. Sliabh Rua came back up the pitch shooting two wides much to the relief of the Passage supporters. Fionn Flaherty the youngest player on the squad was introduced for the final twenty minutes.
Sliabh Rua were lucky not to be reduced to fourteen players when their full forward pulled across Callum Griffin. Sean Coughlan pointed the resulting free to level the scores again. Within a minute he sent Passage into the lead with a wonder score from out by the sideline. Sliabh Rua to their credit didn’t drop their heads and came thundering back into the game. They scored two quick frees to retake the lead with eight minutes left on the clock. They then missed a free to extend the lead and Passage who have finished strongly in all their games this year upped the tempo. Sean Coughlan fired over a free after Fionn Flaherty was fouled. Zac Hanlon who moved out the field fired over two quick points to leave Passage in the lead coming up to the closing few minutes. The nerves and tension were unbearable as Passage battled for every ball as if their lives depended on it.
Morgan Kelleher stopped one possible attack and Sean Cash cleared another one. Callum Griffin showed outstanding skill to set up Philip Heavey for a point that left three points between the teams. The referee was now playing extra time and the worry was that Sliabh Rua would score a goal to break the hearts of this amazing Passage team. We need not have been worried Philip scored another point after great work from Brian Griffin set him up. There was still time for some more drama as Sliabh Rua scored yet another free. They launched two more balls into the square but the Passage defence cleared the danger. Philip Heavey scored a point and the referee brought the game to an end. There were scenes of joy at the final whistle as the treble was won, in what will go down as one of the best underage years in the club’s history.
Congratulations to all the players and management team. Special call out to Daniel Collier, Corey Browne and Finn O’Connor who didn’t get on the field but played a huge part in the overall success of the team during the year. Finally, the injured players Aidan O’Connor and the two Barry brothers Cian and Mark, all also played key roles during the year. Speedy recovery boys and I hope you all will be back fighting fit for the start of next season. Thanks also to Karl Murphy for being Maor Uisce all year.
Scorers for Passage: Sean Coughlan 0-13 (3 65’s, 4 frees), Philip Heavey 0-4, Zac Hanlon 1-2, Callum Griffin 0-1, Sean O’Regan 0-1.
Team: David O’Connor, Sean Cash, Diarmuid Buckley, Rueben Ring, Oisin O’Sullivan, Shane Whyte, Alex Meagher, Callum Griffin, Philip Heavey, Sean O’Regan, Sean Coughlan, Brian Griffin, Eoin O’Byrne, Zac Hanlon, Ollie O’Neill.
Subs used: Morgan Kelleher, Fionn O Flaherty, Ben Horgan