Naomh Moninne celebrate their Minor Hurling Championship success. (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)
Minor Hurling Championship Final
Naomh Moninne 7-9 St. Fechin's 2-9
Waiting is the hardest time of all and how long Naomh Moninne have had to wait. The county’s most successful club ended a 19-year famine on Friday night, triumphing over the six-in-a-row chasing St. Fechin’s in the Minor Hurling Championship final at Darver.
While Ronan Geoghegan fired them to the senior title in September, his younger brother, Darren, was largely responsible for this victory. The centre-forward finished with 3-7, all but three-points of which came from play, as he proved a class apart in a game played in bitterly cold conditions.
His first and second goals were driven home with precision at crucial times, with his hat-trick strike a high effort which dropped in over the helpless St. Fechin’s ‘keeper Josh Murtagh. By that juncture, though, the match was well and truly decided with Moninne’s offensive superiority and physical edge too much for the battling holders.
Though second best throughout, the Termonfeckin side gave themselves little chance of remaining competitive with their opening to the game. A late first-half flurry produced a chink of light, however, having taken 26-minutes to register through the first of Ryan Walsh’s six-points, they handed Moninne the initiative, and a lead they never looked like relinquishing.
The Dundalk boys scored four minors in the opening 10-minutes with James Murphy and Ultan McEnaney shooting over either side of two fine Geoghegan efforts before the latter sent a rasping drive to the bottom corner of the net, installing Moninne with a 1-4 to no-score advantage. And two further Moninne points – Geoghegan frees – forced the John Murphy/Charlie Geoghegan-managed team into an unassailable nine-point lead.
Despite a late St. Fechin’s flurry, which saw them register four of the final five scores before the break with Walsh (3) and Seán Kerrish showing composure from dead-balls, they trailed at half-time – 2-6 to four-points. Eoghan O’Hora fired home Moninne’s second major in first-half overtime.
Maurice Murphy, Cóiste Iomana Lú, presents Naomh Moninne captain Matthew Fee with the trophy.
The Hoops hit seven wides prior to opening their account, but having finished strongly they emerged bullishly for the second-half. However, all their good intentions were dashed when Geoghegan shot a bullet to the bottom corner off his left. It was a goal that looked to have sealed the outcome despite there being 29-minutes still to play.
Danny Morgan and Geoghegan traded points – the latter’s being the point of the match following incredible stick work and a finish over his shoulder from 45-metres. Further minors were traded between the marksmen – Walsh and Geoghegan – before O’Hora scored his second goal of the match, following in to kick to the net after his original attempt had been saved.
Undeterred, Walsh raised a green flag at the opposite end with a high lob, deceiving James Prendergast in the Moninne goal before substitute Jay Hughes backed the effort up with his sole point of the contest, cutting the gap to ten-points with 47-minutes played; 4-8 to 1-7.
However, Morgan McCaughey cancelled out their good work, converting by Murtagh for Moninne’s fifth goal prior to Cian Fitzpatrick flicking home another goal for St. Fechin’s at the opposite end.
Geoghegan and Walsh pointed before a fabulous solo run and shot by Pádraic Fallon was deflected out for a ’65, from which Geoghegan’s effort dropped short and McEnaney swung to the net.
And it was to be seventh heaven for Moninne as Geoghegan’s point-attempt from 60-yards dropped in over the head of Murtagh as an already comprehensive victory margin was tallied to 15-points.
It completes a unique double for the Black and Amber and is surely the first of many championships for the club in the coming years.
Naomh Moninne: James Prendergast; Patrick Hickey, Eoin Murphy, Seán Magill; Alan Carr, Matthew Fee, Tadgh Litchfield; Pádraic Fallon, Feidhelm Joyce; Ciarán McGlynn, Darren Geoghegan (3-7, 0-3 frees), James Murphy (0-1); Eoghan Smith, Ultan McEnaney (1-1), Eoghan O’Hora (2-0)
Subs: Morgan McCaughey (1-0) for Smith, Luke Murray for Magill, Kyle Rafferty for McGlynn, Craig Callan for Carr
St. Fechin’s: Josh Murtagh; Evan Morgan, David Lally, Seán Gibney; Alan Connor, Danny Morgan (0-1), Jack Murray; Paul McEvoy, Ryan Walsh (1-6, 0-4 frees and two ’65); Dylan Tiernan, Eoin Ryan, Conor Higgins; Stephen Beirth, Cian Fitzpatrick (1-0), Seán Kerrisk (0-1, free)
Subs: Zac Lennon, Tómas McCreesh, Eoin Hackett, Jay Hughes (0-1), Ciarán Brennan, John O’Connell
Referee: Jim O’Rourke (Monaghan)