Unfortunately our U12s' great run in the football championship came to an end on Wednesday evening in Cashel, when they faced Durlas Óg in the County Semi Final of the A football championship. Both teams were undefeated in winning their respective divisional titles and so a close encounter was expected. Durlas got off to the ideal start when they were awarded an early penalty, which was dispatched to the net. Kilsheelan hit back with 2 pointed frees from Micheál Freaney. However Durlas had the physical advantage in almost every area of the field, and used that to score 2-2 without reply. It was looking like the tie was slipping away from Kilsheelan, but a well-taken goal from Tomas O Connor and another pointed free from Freaney cut the lead to 5 points at half time (Durlas Óg 3-2, Kilsheelan 1-3). The second half was a real war of attrition, with a number of frees for both sides. Senan Butler had starred in Kilsheelan's South final victory, but found chances hard to come by this evening. Early in the second half he took the ball and shot on the swivel, only to scrape the outside of the post. Kilsheelan won the resultant kickout but unfortunately kicked wide again. Durlas were more economical with their attacks and extended their lead with a point from play. 3 further wides from Kilsheelan proved costly, as their only score of the 2nd half was a pointed free. Durlas Og played with a sweeper, a system Kilsheelan found hard to break down, and as they poured forward, Durlas managed to hit them on the break for 4 pointed frees. The final score was Kilsheelan Kilcash 1-4, Durlas Óg 3-7, and Durlas were good value for their win. A look at the team sheets from the match shows the stark contrast in age profiles – Durlas Óg had 12 of their 13 players born in 2004, with the other born in 2005. Kilsheelan had only 5 on the age, with seven U11s and one U10. Besides that, Kilsheelan-Kilcash is a rural club, while Durlas have the pick of a large town in Thurles, evidenced by the fact that they have 4 U12 teams in different grades. When we take all this into account, the achievements of our young team should not be underestimated – they started the football season questioning whether or not they would be able to compete in the A division; not only did they compete, they went undefeated to win a South A title. 8 of the panel of 13 are eligible for U12s again next year, while the older lads have now won South B and A titles back to back.
The panel for the day was Jack Landy, Zac O Loughlin, Oisin Lavin, Harry Roche Nagle, Alex Hanrahan (captain), Ruairi Kelly, Thomas O Connor, Billy O Gorman, Michael Freaney, Liam Freaney, Senan Butler, Aaron Costin, Matthew Roche Nagle
They can now look forward to the hurling competition starting in June.
On Thursday evening, our U16s played Clonmel Óg/Clerihan in Grangemockler. As Kilsheelan, Carrick Swan and Clonmel Óg/Clerihan all finished level on points after the group stages, they entered a 3-way playoff. Having beaten Swan in a close encounter on Monday, Kilsheelan then had to make the short trip to Grangemockler to take on Clonmel Óg to determine who would finish in 4th place and claim the last semi final spot. Kilsheelan got off to a good start with a pointed free from full forward Cathal Kelly. Clonmel hit back with a point of their own before Kilsheelan opened a lead with a point from midfielder Mark Stokes and 2 from half forward Jamie Roche (1 free). Óg/Clerihan settled and rattled off 4 points of their own to take a slender lead. Despite Kilsheelan missing a penalty, centre forward Jason Madigan pointed just before the whistle to level matters at half time. However, influential Kilsheelan midfielder Mark Stokes picked up a back injury, hampering his mobility. The combination team started the second half better and opened a 3 point lead. Kilsheelan had to push forward which opened up the game and scores started flowing for both sides. We scored a point through corner forward John O Dwyer, but Clonmel raised a green flag to give them a 6-point lead. The effects of a very tough match 72 hours previous started to take its toll, but Kilsheelan never gave up. They scored 4 points from Barry Kehoe, Cathal Kelly, Jason Madigan and Jamie Roche to cut the gap to just 2. Then came the defining point of the match – another penalty awarded to Kilsheelan was saved, and Clonmel scored 3 unanswered points to open a 4-point lead. Full back Kian Quinn rampaged forward and was rewarded with a goal. Unfortunately Kilsheelan left themselves exposed at the back and the combination team worked another goal just before the final whistle. The lads gave everything in both playoff matches, but came up just short in an extremely tough campaign in A football. They couldn't be faulted and, like the U12s, can look forward to hopefully a successful hurling campaign.
The only Kilsheelan team still in their football competition is the U14 team, who play Grangemockler/Ballyneale in the semi final on sunday at 12.45, venue tbc.