The game started off with a display of great defence by Ciaran Flynn with James Hurley putting out fires before they even started.
The first score of the game came from Shane Moran as he rattled the back of the net – somewhat against the run of play as St. Pauls had done all the hurling up to this point.
St. Paul’s were then on their own attack with a 65’ dropping short and Cormac Reilly making a great goal line save. Shane Moran then followed up his goal with a beautifully struck point – turning on the afterburners and there wasn’t a defender in the country who could have stuck with him. Michael Stevenson opened his own account for the day with a well taken free after Tommy Kennedy was fouled.
St. Paul’s kept tipping away themselves and Mount Sion struggled to extend their lead beyond 2 points. At this stage of the game the first tactical switch of the game was made by the Mount Sion management with John Cash coming on at wing forward, Dean Griffin going back into goal and Alfie Ryan coming off (the crowd knew Alfie would return at some stage).
The very next St Paul’s attack almost resulted in what would have been a deserved goal but an intelligent foul was given away – the ball was misstruck and Mount Sion were lucky to clear their lines. After some back and forth play between both teams – Mr. Mulhall was irate as he ran onto the field to command his troops to tighten up and be more aggressive in their tackling.
Unfortunately, this fell on deaf ears as the backs were caught ball watching when St. Paul’s took a quick tap free. Bradley Penkert however threw his body in front of the resultant shot – showing complete disregard for himself – and stopped a certain goal.
St. Paul’s eventually worked the ball over the bar, but Mount Sion were not disappointed after what could have been. St. Paul’s followed this score up with yet another and the teams drew level as halftime edged ever closer. Cometh the time and cometh the man – Tommy Kennedy plucked the ball out of the air among a scattering of St. Paul’s players, marauded up the field, deftly passed off to James Hurley who absolutely buried the ball into the back of the net.
The crowd was heaving at the majesty of the two boys who completely took the game by the scruff of the neck at a time when it was needed. Shane Moran moments later went down after taking a belt and appeared to be in great discomfort.
Luckily Alfie Ryan was sprung from the bench to retake his place in goals with Dean Griffin returning to the forward line. Some further back and forth play between the 2 teams left the scoreline reading 2-5 to 0-7 in favour of Mount Sion as the halftime whistle blew.
The second half began with a frenzy as Michael Stevenson won the ball straight from the throw-in to link up with Conor McCabe who buried the ball into the back of the net. It was the perfect start from Mount Sion, but St. Paul’s responded immediately with a point to take the sting out of the goal. Tommy Kennedy made another one of his marauding runs with defenders bouncing off him before deftly handpassing to Sam Roberts who himself passed the ball into the back of the net with precision. The goals were proving vitally important for Mount Sion.
Sam Roberts then almost put the game to bed after a 70 yard pass from Michael Stevenson – the ball bounced on the edge of the small rectangle and Sam doubled on it only for the side netting to almost explode. Mount Sion were 8 points to the good at this stage but Mr. Power and Mr. Mulhall continued to drive their players on. It seemed to work as Dean Griffin made a spectacular catch on the edge of the goal and scored an even more spectacular goal. 1st year James McGrath then harassed and harangued the St. Paul’s defence refusing to allow them to come out with the ball and was eventually fouled himself earning a free which was converted excellently by Michael Stevenson.
Another well-deserved point from St. Paul’s after some loose marking from Mount Sion meant the Monastery men were leading 4-7 to 0-11 after 20 minutes of second half hurling. St. Paul’s to their credit refused to give up the fight and got a well-deserved goal to bring the game back to 5 points.
Conor McCabe responded immediately as he scooped the ball over the bar. Mount Sion started to look nervous, but Ciaran Flynn once again was the picture of composure as he sniffed out another St. Paul’s attack. John Cash – carrying an injury into the game – went down moments later and was replaced by Bobby Swift. St. Paul’s had one final attack where they needed a goal but luckily the ball drifted over the bar.
All in all this was a fantastic game of hurling. It epitomized all that is great about the game and credit to both styles for the atmosphere in which it was played.