The Leinster Post-Primary Senior “B” School hurling Round 1 clash between Gorey CS and Heywood CS set the championship season alight for the North Wexford school side. The panel of thirty have been training intensively since September under the watchful eyes of Rory McCarthy and Conor Wickham while Kevin Kennedy of Wexford GAA coaching lends his expertise and advice also. A damp and dreary October’s day was set upon the Gorey grounds for the championship opener, however the weather did not mirror this marvelled spectacle of hurling.
Gorey set the pace after a minute had passed when Conor Devitt and Conor McDonald pointed. Nevertheless, that attack was muted when Heywood started a ten minute onslaught of scores. Points from Kevin Byrne, Darragh Cribbs and Joe Champion quickened the tempo and a well-worked goal from the hurl of Conor Deegan captivated on the weaknesses of the home-side. Gorey CS crept back into play when Ben Egan set up Cathal Dunbar for a stylish point after twelve minutes. A spree of points followed by the accurate Conor McDonald and Yusuf Frih and Eoin Conroy while the Laois team replied with points from Darragh Cribbs and Eoin Fennelly. The first half showcased a contrasting set-piece of hurling as Gorey defenders like Eoin Conroy, Sean O Connor, David Kennedy and Conor Devitt repaired the flaws of the first quarter to give Gorey a halftime lead of a single point.
Physicality emerged to become a key component of the second half with neither side rushing to score. Heywood’s Joe Campion managed to level the sides with a point after five minutes but his efforts would soon become disjointed. With ten on the clock, a high ball thundered down into the goalmouth and Cathal Dunbar conveniently was present to score a slick goal for Gorey. Seconds later, Gorey were dependent on Gearoid Cullen to pull off miraculous saves on the goal line. Heywood became frustrated scoring wise and it was this indiscipline that led to pointed frees from Conor McDonald for Gorey. With six minutes left on the clock, a revitalised hunger for a Heywood victory was unleashed by the visitors. Bullets from MJ Dunphy and Eoin Fennelly rattled the net. Gorey’s Conor Devitt replied with a well needed point with two left. However, with seconds remaining, Heywood talisman Darragh Cribbs levelled the sides. With a scoreline that read Gorey CS 1-15; Heywood CS 3-09, referee James Owens viewed that extra-time was necessary.
The first period of extra time was the turning-point of this clash as Gorey CS conveyed their fitness, agility and passion to win. Conor McDonald was assisted by Tómas Morris for his first of five points of the ten minute spell. Kevin Byrne kept Heywood in touch when he sought a goal after six. The first half ended with a spectacular penalty save by Gorey workhorse, Conor Devitt. Conor McDonald furthered his scoring account with points also coming for Gorey from David Kennedy and Fionn Doyle in the second half. Laois’ Eoin Fennelly slotted a goal to the net near the end but it was too late as Gorey were victorious by three points.
This spectacle of hurling was remarked afterwards as the epitome of school hurling with a talented pair of teams showcasing great hurling skill-set, talent and power. As the GAA winter hibernation kicks in, keep an eye out for school fixtures in your area. While club championships might be settled, the school scene is intensifying as we speak.
Final Score, AET, Gorey CS 1-25; Heywood CS 5-10.
Gorey CS Team: Gearoid Cullen (Naomh Eanna), Sean O Connor (Liam Mellows), Sean O Brien (Craanford), Jason Redmond (Naomh Eanna), Michael O’ Brien (St Patrick’s), Eoin Conroy (Naomh Eanna) (0-01), Eoin Whelan (Buffers Alley), David Kennedy (Naomh Eanna) (0-02), Fionn Doyle (Naomh Eanna) (0-01), Kevin Molloy (Naomh Eanna), Conor Devitt (Ballyfad) (0-02), Daryl Murphy (St Patrick’s), Ben Egan (Naomh Eanna) Conor McDonald (Naomh Eanna) (0-18), Cathal Dunbar (Realt na Mara) (1-01). Sub’s: Yusuf Frih (Liam Mellows) (0-01) for Eoin Whelan, Tomás Morris (St Patricks) for Daryl Murphy, Gavin Stamp (Liam Mellows), Philip Kinsella (Liam Mellows), Marc Halpin (Liam Mellows), Liam Condren (Liam Mellows), Michael Hamilton (St Patricks), Kyran Kenny (St Patricks), Rhys Owley (Tara Rocks), Lee Owley (Tara Rocks), Darragh Hughes (Naomh Eanna), Darragh Bellanova (Naomh Eanna), Conor Levingston (Naomh Eanna), Eoin McGuckin (Naomh Eanna), Ben McGrath (Realt na Mara), Alan McPartlan (Naomh Eanna), Ross Murphy (Naomh Eanna), Peter Roche (St Patrick’s), Michael Dwyer (Naomh Eanna).
Heywood scorers: Kevin Byrne 1-1, Darragh Cribbs 0-4, Conor Deegan 0-1, Joe Campion 0-02, Eoin Fennelly 2-1, MJ Dunphy 1-1.
Report by Mick Dwyer