ST. LACHTAIN’S 2-11 MULLINAVAT 0-15
Oh what a cracker of a game the U-21 ‘A’ 2012 County final was and all of the 1,000 plus who attended will long remember this game at Saint John’s Park. It was peppered with wonderful hurling and skill throughout from two excellent teams. St. Lachtain’s Fresford and Mullinavat represented everything that is so good about Kilkenny hurling with the majority of both teams scores coming from play. It maybe mid-January, with cold, wet and grey skies but you would have to marvel at the very impressive underfoot conditions. The new playing surface at St. John’s Park went a long way to making this game what it was, a thriller.
It was evident from the very start that both teams were evenly watched such was the skill level of both. Their first touch and delivery was excellent. In the early exchanges both shared scores until Freshford were awarded a 20 mitre free in front of goal, with captain Steven Farrell stepping up to blast to the net. This didn’t faze the Vat men and always looked threatening and both teams continued to swap scores. But the Southern champions were to suffer another body blow when Stephen Farrell again shot to the net from a 20 mitre free which should have been saved. They say that goals win games and those goals from Freshford proved to be the case come the end of this game. At half time Freshford led 2-06 to 0-06.
The early exchanges in the 2nd half were evenly matched with both teams adding 3 points each from play from the 31st minute to the 37th minute but it would take the Northerners until the 56th minute before scoring again. Fresford could be accused of been wasteful and really could have secured this game earlier if they had not persistently tried to go for goals. Mullinavat became the dominant team in the 2nd half but it was always felt they need to get a goal to have any chance of winning. They got back to within one point on the 54th minute and the game was squaring up for a draw. But Freshford weathered the storm and secured their win in the 60th minute with a late point to win their 2nd U-21 title which they first won in 1977. For the winners their corner forwards Shane Donnelly and Denis Lennon were the thorn in the side of the Southerners with both scoring three points each from play. Captain Steven Farrell was to prove the match winner with his two goals from frees and adding a point from a free also to his tally. The diminutive Philip Campion was very industrious especially in the second half while in the back line they were excellently served by Paul White, Criomthann Bergin and County player Brian Kennedy. Mullinavat gave their all but the goals were the difference in this game. Players that shone for them were Mark Mansfield, Liam Fennelly, Ian Duggan, Simon Aylward and the impressive Pat Mulhearn. A note of thanks to O’Loughlin Gaels GAA club for staging the U-21 final, their facilities are top class and are certainly the envy of many clubs throughout the county and further afield. Teams; St. Lachtain’s Freshford; Darren Brennan, Paul White, Lachtain Kennedy, Criomthann Bergin, Brendan Quinn, Brian Kennedy, Simon Rafter, Fintan White, James Maher, Philip Campion, Steven Farrell (Captain), Jack Boland, Denis Lennon, Colin Corcoran, Shane Donnelly; Subs, Alexander Rafter, Liam Hickey. Mullinavat; James Culliton, Mike Jones, Joe Fennelly (Captain), Darren Kenneally, Brian Phelan, Thomas Aylward, Paudie Gahan, Mark Mansfield, Ian Duggan, Pat Mulhearn, Liam Fennelly, Ger Malone, John Walsh.